Every year on the second Monday in March, 54 countries join together in celebration of the links they share as members of one diverse and dynamic global family – the modern Commonwealth.
In the UK, one way in which this special day is celebrated is with a unique event in London’s Westminster Abbey coordinated by the Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS). The UK’s largest multi-faith celebration, the Commonwealth Day Observance is attended by Her Majesty The Queen, the Prime Minister, High Commissioners, up to 200 other VIPs and more than 1,000 schoolchildren.
The Commonwealth Day Observance takes a different theme each year. And in 2017 we are celebrating ‘‘a peace-building commonwealth.’
Her Majesty The Queen, accompanied by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, attended the annual Commonwealth Day Observance at Westminster Abbey at 3.15pm.
The theme this year will be ‘a peace-building Commonwealth’, and in a message to the more than 2.4 billion Commonwealth citizens in today’s Order of Service, The Queen wrote: ‘The cornerstones on which peace is founded are, quite simply, respect and understanding for one another. Working together, we build peace by defending the dignity of every individual and community.
In April 1949, Heads of State from Australia, Britain, Ceylon, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, and the Canadian Secretary of State for External Affairs met in London and deliberated over six days. The outcome was the Declaration of London which gave birth to the modern Commonwealth. The origins of the Commonwealth stretch back much further than sixty years, but 1949 marks the pivotal point at which the Commonwealth’s colonial legacy was positively transformed into a partnership based on equality, choice, and consensus. The organisation decided at a meeting in Canberra in 1976 that Commonwealth Day would be celebrated on the second Monday in March each year.