Today, The Duchess of Cambridge joined Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the members of Royal Family at Westminster Abbey for the annual Commonwealth Day Service. The service is conducted on the second Monday of March month every year.
Queen Elizabeth is head of the Commonwealth that includes 53 Nations with 2.4 billion population, a third of the world’s population, of whom 60 per cent are under 30 years old. Commonwealth Day, formerly known as Empire Day, is the annual celebration of the Commonwealth of Nations. The first Empire Day took place on 24 May 1902, celebrated prior to 1901 as the birthday of Queen Victoria, who died on 22 January 1901.
The day began with the release of a letter written by The Countess of Wessex to the people of Malawi congratulating them on their work to help prevent avoidable blindness – a particular area of focus for her work. The letter cites Malawi as having set an important example for other Commonwealth nations to follow.
The service was held at Westminster Abbey in London. The beautiful flowers which adorn the Abbey for today’s Commonwealth Day service are by National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies.
The flowers represent the 53 Commonwealth nations.
This year is the 70th anniversary of the London Declaration when nations of the Commonwealth agreed to move forward together as free and equal members and the modern Commonwealth was formed. Each year the Commonwealth adopts a theme upon which the Service is based. This year’s theme ‘A Connected Commonwealth’ refers to the cooperation between the family of nations, who work together in friendship and goodwill.
In April 2017, the leaders of 53 Commonwealth nations arrived at Buckingham Palace & Windsor Castle for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, where Prince Charles of Wales was unanimously selected as the next head of the Commonwealth. Like every year ahead of the Commonwealth Service, Queen Elizabeth issued a message:
Commonwealth Day has a special significance this year as we mark the 70th anniversary of the London Declaration, when nations of the Commonwealth agreed to move forward together as free and equal members. The vision and sense of connection that inspired the signatories has stood the test of time, and the Commonwealth continues to grow, adapting to address contemporary needs.
Today, many millions of people around the world are drawn together because of the collective values shared by the Commonwealth. In April last year, I welcomed the leaders of our 53 nations to Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, and we all witnessed how the Commonwealth vision offers hope, and inspires us to find ways of protecting our planet, and our people.
We are able to look to the future with greater confidence and optimism as a result of the links that we share, and thanks to the networks of cooperation and mutual support to which we contribute, and on which we draw. With enduring commitment through times of great change, successive generations have demonstrated that whilst the goodwill for which the Commonwealth is renowned may be intangible, its impact is very real.
We experience this as people of all backgrounds continue to find new ways of expressing through action the value of belonging in a connected Commonwealth. I hope and trust that many more will commit to doing so this Commonwealth Day.
Ahead of the service, the flags of 53 Commonwealth nations were flying in Parliament Square.
After Queen’s arrival, the royal procession led the service.
After the royal procession took their seats, the first performance was given by the Dhol Foundation from North India having members aged 7 to 18. Dhol is a double-headed drum widely used throughout the Indian subcontinent. The type of dhol used here is North Indian.
Next Clean Bandit performed their Number 1 hit ‘Symphony’ at the service.
Lewis Pugh, an Ocean advocate and UN Patron of Oceans gave the reflection at the service. He has worked to raise awareness of the vulnerability of the earth’s ecosystems and campaigned for their protection. In his reflection, he said, “There is nothing more powerful than a made-up mind.”
Next, the British Prime Minister Theresa May read 1 Corinthians 12: 14-26. ‘The body does not consist of one member but of many… If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together with it.’
Internationally-acclaimed didgeridoo player William Barton played ‘Kalkadungu’s Journey’. Barton is a member of the Kalkadunga people, based around Mt Isa, Australia. Prayers were said by Rabbi Debbie representing Reformed Judaism, Maulana Sayed Ali Abbas Razavi representing Shia Islam, Lord Singh representing Sikhism and Fr Daniel Humphreys representing Roman Catholicism.
Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Patricia Scotland, led the pledge and read The Act of Affirmation to the Commonwealth. ‘We affirm our belief in the Commonwealth as a force for good in the world, and pledge ourselves to its service, now and for the future.’
Organised by The Royal Commonwealth Society, the Commonwealth Day Service is the largest annual inter-faith gathering in the United Kingdom and at the end of the service, there was a procession of Commonwealth flags.
At the end of the service, the members of the royal family greeted the teams who performed at the service.
Catherine was presented with the flowers at the Abbey then she checks out the young Rainbow’s badges on the shirt of the children at the Commonwealth Day Service.
The Duchess of Cambridge talking to the Abbey Choir team.
A beautiful picture of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge outside the Abbey.
For the day, not disappointing our twitter squad who was hoping for a reward, The Duchess of Cambridge chose to bring back red Catherine Walker Russian Great Coat that we fist saw in April 2014, when William and Catherine arrived in New Zealand with Prince George for their first Down under tour.
Catherine paired the coat with her Emmy London Rebecca Cinder Suede Pumps that we last saw at the Last Post ceremony at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Memorial in July 2017. Thanks to the Middleton Maven for id.
And carried matching Emmy London Natasha Cinder Clutch.
The Duchess of Cambridge wore a new red hat and diamond floral earrings at Commonwealth Day Service. GabiK_blogoKate on Twitter suggested that Catherine might be wearing Lock and Co.’s hat and earrings that belonged to Princess of Wales, Diana.
Next, we will see Duchess Kate on Tuesday when she will visit the Henry Fawcett Children’s Centre to see how Lambeth Early Action Plans are using the Parent and Infant Relationship Service (PAIRS) to support parents, carers and their children in the afternoon and attend National Portrait Gallery Gala dinner in the evening.