By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal
LONDON (AA) - Queen Elizabeth II formally opened the Commonwealth Summit in London Thursday.
The opening ceremony was held at the Buckingham Palace, which saw the attendance of members of the royal family, heads of 53 Commonwealth member states, dignitaries and other guests.
In her opening speech, the queen said the Commonwealth was created with eight states with the ratification of the London Declaration in 1949 when her father, King George VI, hosted the event in London.
“We are one of the world’s great convening powers, a global association of volunteers who believe in the tangible benefits with flow from exchanging ideas and experiences and respecting each other’s point of view,” she said.
“We seem to be growing stronger year by year,” she added.
The Prince of Wales also spoke at the ceremony and underlined the “strong and affectionate bonds” between the 53 nations.
"I pray that this [meeting] will not only revitalise the bonds between our countries, but will also give the Commonwealth a renewed relevance to all its citizens," Prince Charles said.
Prime Minister Theresa May said in her speech the meeting will focus on “some of the 21st century’s biggest questions”.
“There have been difficulties, successes, controversies, but I believe wholeheartedly in the good that the Commonwealth can do," May said.
The ceremony followed a gun salute of 53 canon fires in central Green Park.
The two-day summit will discuss various issues, including environmental issues, cyber security, trade and the successor of the queen as the head of the Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth's 53 member states comprise of one third of the world's population with 2.4 billion people.
The U.K. is aiming to use the network to sign new trade deals with Commonwealth countries to boost British trade after the departure from the European Union in March 2019.
The Commonwealth member states include some of the world’s most populated and developed countries, including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting is held every two years.