He said the organisation had an “imperative to act” in order to make a difference to the lives of its combined 2.6 billion-strong population, more than half of whom are under the age of 30.
“Whether on climate change and biodiversity loss, youth opportunity and education, global health, or economic co-operation, the Commonwealth can play an indispensable role in the most pressing issues of our time,” he said.
The King added: “Our shared humanity contains such precious diversity of thought, culture, tradition and experience.
“By listening to each other, we will find so many of the solutions that we seek.
“This extraordinary potential, which we hold in common, is more than equal to the challenges we face.
“It offers us unparalleled strength not merely to face the future, but to build it.”
Charles, whose speech theme was “forging a sustainable and peaceful common future”, said the Commonwealth had an “incredible opportunity, and responsibility” to create a future that was in harmony with nature and to preserve the planet for future generations.
He added: “The Commonwealth has been a constant in my own life, and yet its diversity continues to amaze and inspire me.
“Its near-boundless potential as a force for good in the world demands our highest ambition; its sheer scale challenges us to unite and be bold.”
The monarch also paid tribute to the late Queen, telling the congregation that the service was “an occasion of particular pride” for his beloved mother, from whose example he drew strength.
The service was due to include musical performances from saxophonist Yolanda Brown, West End stars Roshani Abbey and Nuwan Hugh Perera, and the all-female Amalgamation Choir, from Cyprus.
Among the guests of honour in the 2000-strong congregation were the Commonwealth secretary-general, the prime minister of Samoa, high commissioners, senior politicians and dignitaries from across the UK and the Commonwealth.
Also attending were athletes from the home nations who competed at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham last year, as well as faith leaders, and more than 750 school children and young people from across the UK.
Later, Charles, Camilla and the attending members of the royal family will entertain the Commonwealth secretary-general, high commissioners, foreign affairs ministers and other members of the Commonwealth community at a Buckingham Palace reception.
The Telegraph, London
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