In a first-ever departure from a 44-year-old tradition, Queen Elizabeth II will skip the Commonwealth Games in Delhi due to a packed schedule. In her place, Prince Charles will read out a message of support from the British monarch to the athletes during the opening ceremony.
Interestingly, the news seems to have taken even the organizing committee by surprise. While the organizing committee head, Suresh Kalmadi, made light of the decision to skip the Commonwealth Games, claiming that the OC had prior knowledge, spokesperson Lalit Bhanot was more ambivalent, admitting that the news was ‘‘recent’’.
‘‘We were told only some weeks ago that Prince Charles would be representing the queen,’’ admitted Bhanot. Kalmadi meanwhile said, ‘‘We are okay with it. The queen had attended the baton relay ceremony at Buckingham Palace. This time, the Queen is sending the prince.’’
‘‘Prince Edwards, the earl of Wessex, will be coming as vice-patron of the Commonwealth Games Federation as well,’’ added Bhanot.
‘‘Charles will represent the Queen and it’s okay,’’ added Kalmadi, also the President of the Indian Olympic Association. The queen has not missed a Commonwealth Games in 44 years.
A Buckingham Palace spokesperson said the queen had a packed autumn schedule, making it impossible for her to visit Delhi for the October 3-14 Games.
‘‘The sheer volume of her engagements this autumn, coupled with other overseas visits, means she will not be able to attend,’’ the spokesperson said.
‘‘It is correct to say the queen will not be attending the Commonwealth Games this year. Prince Charles will represent the royal family in India and will read out a message of support from the monarch to the athletes,’’ he added.
The British High Commission also issued a statement, saying Prince Charles would represent the queen at the mega event.
‘‘We are delighted to announce that His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales will represent Her Majesty The Queen at the opening of the Delhi Commonwealth Games in October,’’ the statement said.
Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium will be the venue of both the opening and closing ceremonies.