Prince Charles, Prince Albert, Maldives president to grace Games inaugural

By Manish Chand,IANS,

New Delhi : Guess what is common between Britain’s Prince Charles, Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed and Prince Albert of Monaco? Well, nothing much yet. But they are set to be among a handful of foreign leaders who will be gracing the gala inaugural ceremony of the Commonwealth Games here Oct 3.

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Prince Charles has confirmed his presence at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, the first time New Delhi will be hosting the 53-nation sports spectacular.

He will represent Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, who said she could not come due a heavy workload around that time. This is the first time in over 40 years the queen won’t be attending the multi-sport event.

Compared to a bevy of world leaders who trooped to Beijing for the 2008 Olympics, the Oct 3-14 Games that will showcase India’s growing economic muscle and its emerging power ambitions, has not triggered much enthusiasm.

There won’t be more than a handful of foreign leaders for the inaugural ceremony, sources close to the government told IANS. “As of now, besides Prince Charles, we are expecting Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed and Prince Albert of Monaco,” a source said.

Nasheed, the 43-year-old former political prisoner, dislodged Asia’s longest-serving leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom in the 2008 elections, the first free polls held in the Indian Ocean island nation after decades.

Prince Albert of Monaco, a Mediterranean principality better known as the playground of the rich and famous, is expected to come with his South African fiance Charlene Wittstock, a former Olympic swimmer, said sources.

The soon-to-be couple – they have announced their engagement but are to marry in July 2011 – is set to add a sprinkle of regal glamour to the opening ceremony.

Prince Albert, who is himself an Olympic bobsledder, acceded to Monaco’s throne in 2005 after his father, Prince Rainier III’s death.

The prince, whose mother was the iconic Hollywood star Grace Kelly, has participated in five Winter Olympics as a member of the Monegasque bobsleigh team.