The Queen and Members of The Royal Family celebrate Commonwealth Day 2019
Monday 11th March 2019
Her Majesty The Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, accompanied by The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex and The Duke of York will attend the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey on Commonwealth Day – Monday 11th March.
Commonwealth Day has a special significance this year, as 2019 marks the 70th anniversary of the modern Commonwealth, with old ties and new links enabling cooperation towards social, political and economic development which is both inclusive and sustainable. The Commonwealth represents a global network of 53 countries and almost 2.4 billion people, a third of the world’s population, of whom 60 percent are under 30 years old.
Each year the Commonwealth adopts a theme upon which the Service is based. This year’s theme ‘A Connected Commonwealth’ speaks of the practical value and global engagement made possible as a result of cooperation between the culturally diverse and widely dispersed family of nations, who work together in friendship and goodwill.
The Commonwealth’s governments, institutions and people connect at many levels, including through parliaments and universities. They work together to protect the natural environment and the ocean which connects many Commonwealth nations, shore to shore. Cooperation on trade encourages inclusive economic empowerment for all people – particularly women, youth and marginalised communities. The Commonwealth’s friendly sporting rivalry encourages people to participate in sport for development and peace.
Highlights of the Service include special musical performances by Grammy-winning group Clean Bandit and the UK’s biggest-selling tenor, Alfie Boe. A reflection will be given by Lewis Pugh, an endurance swimmer, ocean advocate and the UN Patron of the Oceans.
Organised by The Royal Commonwealth Society, the Commonwealth Service is the largest annual inter-faith gathering in the United Kingdom. The Service will be broadcast live on BBC One and across BBC World Service, in celebration of Her Majesty’s lifetime commitment to the Commonwealth.
Guests of honour among the 2,000 strong congregation will include the Prime Minister, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC, alongside High Commissioners, Ambassadors and dignitaries, senior politicians from across the UK and Commonwealth, faith leaders and over 800 school children and young people.
The Service will commence with a procession of Commonwealth Flags. The Queen and Members of the Royal Family will meet people involved in the Service and walk by the Commonwealth Flag Bearers upon departure.
Later that evening, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall will be guests of the Commonwealth Secretary-General, The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC, at the annual Reception which traditionally takes place on Commonwealth Day at Marlborough House, the home of the Commonwealth Secretariat.
The Queen was 26 years old when she became Head of the Commonwealth in 1952. This is an important symbolic and unifying role. As Head, Her Majesty personally reinforces the links by which the Commonwealth joins people together from around the world.
Throughout Her Majesty’s reign, the Commonwealth has grown from just seven nations to 53 members. During this time, The Queen has undertaken more than 200 visits to Commonwealth countries and visited every country of the Commonwealth (with the exception of Cameroon, which joined in 1995 and Rwanda which joined in 2009) as well as making many repeat visits.
There are two major projects which have been launched in recognition of Her Majesty’s lifetime of service to the Commonwealth – Queen’s Young Leaders and The Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy.
The Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy (QCC)
Launched by The Queen at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Malta in 2015, an appeal was made to all 53 Commonwealth nations to dedicate areas of indigenous forest to be preserved in perpetuity to mark Her Majesty’s lifetime of service to the Commonwealth.
Since then, around 43 Commonwealth countries have dedicated more than 8.4 million hectares of indigenous forests to this visionary initiative, with a number of countries also planting new forests. Interest in the QCC continues, with a number of countries finalising their submissions. By the time of CHOGM in 2020, it is expected that all nations of the Commonwealth will have joined the QCC initiative to create a global network of indigenous forests to benefit communities and wildlife, now, and into the future.
Queen’s Young Leaders (QYL)
The Queen’s Young Leaders Programme was launched in 2014 by The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust in partnership with Comic Relief and The Royal Commonwealth Society. The programme recognises and celebrates inspiring young people from across the Commonwealth who are taking the lead in their communities and using their skills to transform lives.
Each year from 2014 to 2018, 60 exceptional young people have been selected to receive a Queen’s Young Leaders Award and become ‘Queen’s Young Leaders’ – one for every year that The Queen had served as Head of the Commonwealth at the time of her Diamond Jubilee. The complete network of Queen’s Young Leaders has now been established. Award winners and highly commended runners-up form a unique, dedicated and powerful group of young people from 53 Commonwealth countries who are connecting, collaborating and changing lives together – and will continue to do so for years to come.
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