Sri Lanka welcomes Charles to CHOGM after Queen backs out
Colombo: Sri Lanka on Tuesday welcomed the attendance of Britain`s Prince Charles in place of Queen Elizabeth II at the Commonwealth summit later this year in Colombo.
Buckingham Palace today said that the Queen would be represented by Prince of Wales Charles, next-in-line to the British throne in a bid to ease the burden on his elderly mother.
"Buckingham Palace stated that this decision reflects the wish of Her Majesty at this time in her reign to limit her long distance travel", a Sri Lankan statement said.
The statement on the Queen`s wish to skip the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo followed the confirmation of attendance by the British Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague.
Cameron`s office said he would defy calls for a boycott in the backdrop of Human Rights accusations levelled against Sri Lanka.
The Prime Minister wants to attend the summit while carrying tough messages to the Colombo government on rights accountability and reconciliation issues with the Tamil minority.
The British attendance would be in line with the decision of Australia and New Zealand to attend the summit but in variance with the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper`s non attendance.
This year`s CHOGM has been mired in controversy, with campaigners including Amnesty International calling for not holding the summit until an investigation is carried out into alleged human rights abuses in the final six months of the 26-year Sri Lankan civil war.
Britain is facing pressure to lead a boycott of the meeting, with Canada indicating that it will not attend unless specific criteria are met.
However, Buckingham Palace said the Queen`s decision not to attend was not related to the political situation in Sri Lanka.
"It has nothing to do with the political situation in Sri Lanka. The key point here is that the Queen will be represented, although she is not there in person, by the Prince of Wales", the spokesman said.
The CHOGM this year takes place in Sri Lankan capital Colombo from November 15-17.
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