London- Queen Elizabeth II opened a biennial summit of the British-led Commonwealth on Thursday, as the host nation urged the 53 member states to take action to cut plastic pollution.
“We are one of the great convening powers… and we seem to by growing stronger year by year,” the queen
told the 53 heads of government, including British Prime Minister Theresa May and
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
She highlighted Commonwealth initiatives including a “blue charter” to protect the marine environment,
saying the British royal family was “proud to play a part” in them.
May paid tribute to the queen’s “service and dedication” to the Commonwealth, which Elizabeth has headed since 1952.
“You have been true to the deepest values of the Commonwealth – that the voice of the smallest member country
is worth precisely as much as that of the largest; that the wealthiest and the most vulnerable stand
shoulder to shoulder,” May said in a speech.
“For your service, for your dedication, for your constancy – we thank you.”
May earlier urged the other nations at the two-day summit to follow Britain’s plan to end the sale of plastic
straws, drink stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton buds.
“Plastic waste is one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world, which is why protecting the
marine environment is central to our agenda at the Commonwealth heads of government meeting,” she said.
Most of the 53 states in the Commonwealth, which was formed in 1949, were once ruled directly or indirectly