Britain's Prince Charles

London - Prince Charles will open the Commonwealth Games in Delhi next week, the heir to the British throne's office said on Monday, playing down reports of a row over who would preside over the ceremony.

Indian officials had said that following Queen Elizabeth II's decision in May not to travel to the Games, the piqued organisers had discussed whether Indian President Pratibha Patil should instead open the Games.

A spokesperson at Clarence House, Charles's official London residence, said both the president and the prince would play a role but insisted that Charles would formally open the games as the official stand-in for his mother, the queen, who is the head of the Commonwealth.

“Both the Prince of Wales and the President of India will have a prominent role in the opening ceremony in Delhi,” a Clarence House spokesperson aid.

“The Queen has asked the Prince of Wales to represent her at the opening of the Commonwealth Games.

“We cannot be specific about the choreography but the Prince will read out the Queen’s baton message, ending by declaring the Games open.”

The 84-year-old queen had cited her hectic schedule as the reason for not attending the Games, which she traditionally opens, but the move drew criticism in India.

The secretary to the Indian president, Archana Datta, told reporters in Delhi earlier on Monday the issue was still up in the air, while there was no immediate comment from the organising committee.

“The decision is yet to be taken,” Datta said. “If the decision is taken, I will let the media know.”

The Indian ANI news agency quoted unnamed government and Games organising committee sources as saying it would be the president who opened the event. - AFP