Commonwealth Day: Service of Celebration
Organised by the Royal Commonwealth Society, the Commonwealth Day Service is the world’s premier, public event to celebrate the Commonwealth of Nations and provides an opportunity to focus attention on this voluntary association of 56 countries and their commitment to promoting democracy, human rights, the rule of law and equality for its 2.5 billion citizens.
This annual event, held at Westminster Abbey, celebrates the unity, diversity, and linkages of the modern Commonwealth and seeks to foster greater understanding of the Commonwealth’s achievements and role, particularly amongst its young people.
Guests of honour among the 2,000 strong congregation included the Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Prime Minister of Samoa, High Commissioners, senior politicians and dignitaries from across the UK and the Commonwealth, alongside athletes from the home nations who competed at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham last summer, faith leaders, and over 750 school children and young people from throughout the UK.
Upon Their Majesties’ arrival at Westminster Abbey, The King and The Queen Consort were met by the Dean of Westminster, before greeting members of the Ngāti Rānana London Māori Club, who performed at the Great West Door ahead of the Commonwealth Service. The Service commenced with a procession of Commonwealth member states’ flags. As 2023 is the Commonwealth Year of Peace, a specially designed Commonwealth Flag for Peace was also processed this year.
The King delivered His Majesty’s Commonwealth Day Message from the Great Pulpit. The Service also included special musical performances from saxophonist Yolanda Brown, West End stars Roshani Abbey and Nuwan Hugh Perera, and the all-female, Amalgamation Choir, from Cyprus. Marking Rwanda’s role as the current Commonwealth Chair-in-Office, having hosted the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in 2022, the Rwandan National Ballet, Urukerereza, also performed.
A reflection was given by young Samoan environmental advocate Brianna Fruean, who was the youngest recipient of a Commonwealth Youth Award aged, just 16 years old. Samoa is the incoming Commonwealth Chair-in-Office, and will host CHOGM in 2024.
The Commonwealth Day Service is now available to watch on BBC iPlayer and on the BBC YouTube channel for an international audience.