Prince Charles took selfies and team photos with hundreds of athletes ahead of the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
The Games open on Thursday and promise to be the UK’s biggest sporting event since the London Olympics ten years ago.
The event will open later in Birmingham at the Alexander Stadium, with the Prince of Wales in attendance representing the Queen.
In advance, Charles toured the main athletes’ village, meeting athletes from dozens of countries and posing for group photos with teams including Scotland, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and, naturally, Wales.
He chatted with competitors for half an hour, joking with members of the Australian team “everyone else is horrified by the Australians.”
The prince also brought smiles to the Rwandan squad by asking, “Good accommodation… is the food okay?”
I bet they don’t go to bed on time.Prince Charles jokes with Wales coach
He joked with the Wales coach: “Do they listen to everything you tell them? I bet they don’t go to bed on time.”
In the village, he was surrounded by a crowd of athletes who waited 30 minutes for his arrival, eager to take a selfie or broadcast live with family members who stayed at home.
Many countries presented him with their team badges, including the national teams of Pakistan, the Cayman Islands and the Isle of Man.
Charles also amused the facility’s security when he decided to walk through the metal detector’s archway, activating it, then smiled and raised both hands in an apologetic tone.
Boris Johnson has previously said he is “supremely confident” that the £778m of taxpayer money that went into the games being played as the country grapples with a cost of living crisis will be a legacy.
The outgoing prime minister said at the Commonwealth Business Forum in the West Midlands: “You can feel the excitement here in this mighty city of Birmingham because there are already thousands of athletes from 56 countries, 72 nations and territories around the world. ”
He added: “You can already hear voices in some media who doubt that all this will be worth it.
“And people say, can we afford it? Should we have done this with pressure on the cost of living? Will the £778 million of taxpayer money invested in these Games be left behind?
“So, right now, I want you to know that I am here to tell you that I am supremely confident that the answer to this question is yes. A thousand times, yes. I say this because I remember, almost exactly 10 years ago, exactly the same nervous moment before the start of the 2012 Games in London.”
Mr Johnson, who was mayor of London during the 2012 Summer Olympics, insisted they “even to this day continue to create thousands of jobs, growth and rebirth” in the capital.
Culture Minister Nadine Dorries also defended the cost of the £778 million event funded by the government and Birmingham City Council.
Ms Dorris dismissed claims that it was a “vanity project” and stressed the Commonwealth’s importance as a trading and geopolitical bloc.
Birmingham was awarded the Games after scheduled host Durban in South Africa withdrew due to financial problems.
Ms Dorris told Sky News: “This is not a vanity project… It is very important.
“Are you saying we shouldn’t have the Commonwealth Games? I think we are proud and proud to have picked up the baton when it was passed to the rest of the world and continue to host these Commonwealth Games in an amazing way, as we have done.
“Everyone here – thousands of people – are very proud, including the volunteers who are now standing behind me, very proud of what we are doing.”
Over the next 11 days, more than 5,000 athletes from 72 countries will take part in 280 competitions in 19 sports.
In his speech, the prime minister joked that “the whole EU” should become a member of the Commonwealth.
“I think we beat France consistently. Every time we consistently beat Germany and, more importantly, we beat Australia,” he said.
“And although France and Germany are not members of the Commonwealth or are not yet. Why not? Get them involved. Get the whole EU involved. Logical decision.
Ms Dorris also told LBC: “The city is buzzing, it’s alive. It reminds me of the 2012 Olympics. The feeling in Birmingham and the West Midlands is incredibly optimistic and positive.”
She added: “I think the Commonwealth is more important today than ever, especially with what’s going on in Ukraine, in Russia, and also in China.”