The Queen has celebrated the contribution of the Commonwealth diaspora to the UK at a glittering Buckingham Palace reception attended by the Prince of Wales and Prime Minister.

Charles, Camilla, Theresa May and Boris Johnson made a surprise visit to the event which heralds the start of a series of major Commonwealth events this year culminating in a heads of government meeting for global leaders in London this April.

The Queen speaks to Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, left (Jonathan Brady/PA)The Queen speaks to Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, left (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Among the guests were England rugby stars Billy and Mako Vunipola, of Tongan descent but raised in the UK, and celebrity chef Monica Galetti from New Zealand. 

The Prince of Wales meets rugby players Mako and Billy Vunipola (Jonathan Brady/PA)The Prince of Wales meets rugby players Mako and Billy Vunipola (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The heir to the throne’s appearance comes a day after the BBC claimed Commonwealth officials have been discussing who might succeed the Queen as the head of the institution.

But the Commonwealth Secretariat has denied that a high level group of Commonwealth officials has met in London to consider who might follow the monarch. 

The Queen greets Prime Minister Theresa May (Jonathan Brady/PA)The Queen greets Prime Minister Theresa May (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Charles spoke passionately about the potential of the family of nations to make a difference to the major challenges facing the world during his tour of south-east Asia and India last autumn.

He is likely to use the opportunity of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in April as an opportunity to meet leaders and discuss common issues.