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  1. ITV Report

Prince Charles to succeed the Queen as next head of the Commonwealth

Prince Charles has been approved to succeed the Queen as the future Head of the Commonwealth.

Leaders of the 53-member body came to the decision during a meeting at Windsor Castle.

The Queen had publicly endorsed Charles, giving his hopes of leading the commonwealth a boost.

Royal Editor Chris Ship confirmed the news on Twitter:

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In a statement issued at the end of the Commonwealth Heads of Government on Friday, the presidents and prime ministers of the member countries said: "We recognise the role of the Queen in championing the Commonwealth and its peoples.

"The next head of the Commonwealth shall be His Royal Highness Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales."

Prime minister Theresa May confirmed the body's decision in her closing speech at the end of the two-day conference, saying it was "fitting" Prince Charles should one day continue the work of his mother, The Queen.

Mrs May said: "His Royal Highness has been a proud supporter of the Commonwealth for more than four decades and has spoken passionately about the organisation's unique diversity."

The prime minister also paid tribute to the Queen's record as head of the Commonwealth since 1952.

"When Her Majesty the Queen assumed the throne, the Commonwealth had just eight members. Today it has 53," said the Prime Minister.

"We meet here today in no small measure because of the vision, duty and steadfast service of Her Majesty in nurturing the growth of this remarkable family of nations.

"On behalf of all our citizens, I want to express the depth of our gratitude for everything that Her Majesty has done and will continue to do."

The Queen said on Thursday that it was her "sincere wish" that the Commonwealth would decide that the Prince of Wales "should carry on the important work started by my father in 1949".

The succession for Charles was not automatic, as the decision rests in the hands of Commonwealth leaders.

For the Queen, who celebrates her 92nd birthday on Saturday, this will likely be the last Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm) she presides over in person.

At the formal dinner on Thursday evening, Ghana's president Nana Akufo-Addo proposed a toast to the Queen, saying: "We have been made to understand that she [the Queen] will be winding down her duties as head of the Commonwealth.

"My toast thus takes on an added significance for it falls upon me to express the depth of our collective regret that she will no longer be automatically present at out proceedings."

Prince Charles with Theresa May who confirmed he would be the next head of the Commonwealth. Credit: PA

Prince Charles also had the backing of Prime Minister Theresa May. Her official spokesman said: "The government supports the Prince of Wales as the next head of the Commonwealth. He has been a proud supporter of the Commonwealth for more than four decades."

Canadian PM Justin Trudeau also said on Thursday: “I very much agree with the wishes of Her Majesty that the Prince of Wales be the next head of the Commonwealth.”

And Keith Mitchell, the prime minister of Grenada has said such a move "would certainly not be an unhelpful act".

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks to the Queen Credit: CHOGM

Charles' future role within the Commonwealth has been much discussed at the Chogm - to an extent it has rather dominated the proceedings.

Tonga's trade minister, Tevita Tu'i Uata, told ITV News that while who heads the Commonwealth was doubtless important, issues such as climate change - which badly affects his home nation - were more crucial.

The Queen has been head of the Commonwealth since coming to the throne in 1952.