Commonwealth ‘as vital as ever’, Charles tells hosts in St Lucia

The Prince of Wales has begun a major tour of Caribbean commonwealth countries by stating the family of nations is as “vital” today as at any point in its 70-year history.

Charles said the institution’s 53 member states have the power to tackle global challenges like climate change as he was welcomed to St Lucia by a military rally and parade.

Post-Brexit, the Commonwealth will be an important avenue for global trade, commerce and influence for the UK, and the heir to the throne has already been named as its future head, who will one day succeed the Queen.

The prince will spend 12 days touring the region, with an historic visit to Cuba the highlight, with the Duchess of Cornwall.

Charles being greeted at Hewanorra International Airport
Charles was greeted at Hewanorra International Airport (Jane Barlow/PA)

Charles spoke at the open-air event before St Lucia’s prime minister Allen Chastanet, governor-general Sir Emmanuel Neville Cenac, British High Commissioner Steve McCready and other guests including students.

Charles said: “The Commonwealth has been a cornerstone of my life for as long as I can remember and, through all the unprecedented global challenge of these past seven decades, it seems to me that the Commonwealth remains as vital today as it has ever been.”

The Prince of Wales has arrived in St. Lucia to join celebrations marking 40 years of the country’s independence.

To begin the visit, The Prince is meeting with Prime Minister Allen Chastanet and Governor-General Sir Emmanuel Neville Cenac. #RoyalVisitStLucia 🇱🇨 pic.twitter.com/2DQYagG2eV

— Clarence House (@ClarenceHouse) March 17, 2019

Speaking about the global threat posed by climate change the prince went on to say: “Importantly, the Commonwealth brings us together and gives us the means to harness shared opportunities, as well as to address common challenges.

“There is no greater challenge facing all of us, in my view, than that of global warming and climate change which, I know, poses nothing short of an existential threat to this island as it does to every part of this region.”

He went on to talk about his 2017 visit to the Caribbean in the wake of hurricanes Maria and Irma to see for himself the damage wreaked by the natural disasters.