The Royal Family Celebrate Commonwealth Day 2017

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Commonwealth Day service
Queen Elizabeth II, The Duke of Edinburgh, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry and the Duke of York attend the annual Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey, London, on Commonwealth Day 2016.

The Queen and The Royal Family Celebrate Commonwealth Day 2017

Monday 13th March 2017

Her Majesty The Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Harry, The Duke of York and The Earl of Wessex will attend the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey on Commonwealth Day – Monday 13th March.

Organised by The Royal Commonwealth Society, the 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.

The Commonwealth is a vast community which embraces diversity among its 52 countries and almost 2.5 billion people, of which 60 per cent are under 30 years old.

Each year the Commonwealth adopts a theme, upon which the Commonwealth Service is based. In 2017 the theme is ‘A Peace-building Commonwealth’, reaffirming the Commonwealth Charter principle that “international peace and security, sustainable economic growth and development and the rule of law are essential to the progress and prosperity of all.”

Highlights of the Service will include performances by Australian musician, Cody Simpson, George the Poet, a British spoken word performer and social commentator of Ugandan heritage, Canadian soprano, Measha Brueggergosman and Maltese poet and writer, Dr Immanuel Misfud. The Prime Minister of Malta and Chair-in-Office of the Commonwealth; The Hon. Dr Joseph Muscat MP, and Cameroonian peace advocate; Achaleke Christian Leke, a former victim of radicalisation and violence, will give reflections.

The 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games will also feature in the Service as The Queen’s Baton, launched at Buckingham Palace earlier that day, is processed through the Abbey by Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill and escorted by Australian and UK athletes including Anna Meares OAM, Victoria Pendleton CBE and Kurt Fearnley OAM.

Guests of honour among the 2,000 strong congregation will include the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC, alongside High Commissioners, Ambassadors and dignitaries, senior politicians from across the UK and Commonwealth, faith leaders and 800 school children.

The Service will conclude 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. Following the Service, Prince Harry, The Duke of York and The Earl of Wessex will walk through the Dean’s Yard to attend a Reception.

Later that evening, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall will be guests of the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Baroness Scotland, at the annual Reception which traditionally takes place on Commonwealth Day at Marlborough House, the home of the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Background

The Queen has been Head of the Commonwealth throughout her 65 year reign. 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 52 members representing almost 2.5 billion people. During this time, The Queen has played a unique part as a symbol of unity and strength at the heart of the Commonwealth.

During her reign, 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.

Commonwealth Day is an opportunity to promote the Commonwealth’s shared values of peace, democracy and equality, and to celebrate the rich diversity of the Commonwealth’s 52 member countries. Across the Commonwealth, school children, communities, civil society organisations and governments will be marking the day with a wide range of events and activities.

Commonwealth Day was first celebrated in 1958. The year 2017 marks 40 years since it became a global celebration on the same day every year, the second Monday in March. On 1 January 2017, Her Majesty sent a message of congratulations to the people of Canada in the 150th anniversary year of Confederation – https://www.royal.uk/message-queen-people-canada

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