Colombo: Invoking India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru in his speech, Britain's Prince Charles appealed to the Commonwealth to intensify cooperation to resolve economic, social and environmental challenges at the grouping's summit here Friday.
"Sri Lanka was one of the founding countries of the modern Commonwealth. Historians of this family of nations will recall that, in the circumstances of that time, the Commonwealth showed an exceptional spirit of accommodation over how the organisation should be constituted," the Prince of Wales said.
"This led one prominent head of government, in other words Prime Minister Nehru (with whom, incidentally, I always felt proud to share a birthday), to declare that the Commonwealth seemed capable of bringing 'a touch of healing' to the management of contemporary world problems," he said.
"More than 60 years later, we should not need to be reminded of the many troubles that beset our world, some of them previously little understood, nor should we underestimate the importance and responsibility of the Commonwealth's role in addressing them," he added.
Prince Charles, together with Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa, declared open the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) at a short but glittering ceremony at the Nelum Pokuna Theatre.
The prince, who is standing in for his mother, Queen Elizabeth as the head of the Commonwealth, called on the gathering of 53 nations to increase cooperation to address a range of challenges, including fighting poverty, climate change and promote equitable development and technological connectivity.
"At this CHGOM, the Commonwealth is being charged to confront the many issues affecting the security and well-being of its nations and peoples, working to the agenda that has been outlined," the prince said.
He thanked the member countries for their continued assistance to increase the philanthropic work carried out by the Commonwealth and conveyed Queen Elizabeth's greetings to the gathering.
The Prince of Wales arrived in Sri Lanka Thursday for the opening of the CHOGM and celebrated his 65th birthday here.
He is scheduled to visit Saturday the iconic Temple of the Tooth, the British Garrison Cemetery and the historic Peradeniya Botanical Gardens, as well as a tea estate and a school for children with disabilities.