On March 13th, 2023, Their Majesties, The King, and The Queen Consort celebrated Commonwealth Day at a special service held at Westminster Abbey.
Their royalties were accompanied by TRH The Prince and Princess of Wales, HRH Princess Royal and Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, and TRH The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh.
The event brought together dignitaries, political leaders, and members of the public to honor the rich cultural diversity and shared heritage of the Commonwealth of Nations. The King arrived at the Abbey in a grand procession, accompanied by members of the royal family and top government officials, as he received a traditional Māori greeting from Ngāti Rānana London Māori Clu.
In a report by anglican.ink, the service which was conducted by the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr. David Hoyle, had the King delivered his Commonwealth Day message from the Great Pulpit, saying:
‘Commonwealth Day was an occasion of particular pride for my beloved mother, the late Queen; a treasured opportunity to celebrate our Commonwealth family, to whose service she dedicated her long and remarkable life. The Commonwealth has been a constant in my own life, and yet its diversity continues to amaze and inspire me. Its near-boundless potential as a force for good in the world demands our highest ambition; its sheer scale challenges us to unite and be bold.’
It was followed by a reading of the Commonwealth Affirmation, which reaffirmed the values of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.
The service featured a variety of music and performances by West End stars Roshani Abbey and Nuwan Hugh Perara; the all-female Amalgamation Choir from Cyprus; and saxophonist YolanDa Brown. Marking Rwanda’s role as the current Commonwealth Chair-in-Office, there was also a performance by the Rwandan National Ballet, Urukerereza. There were also several speeches, including a heartfelt address by the King himself, in which he spoke of the importance of the Commonwealth and the need for unity in the face of global challenges.
A young Samoan environmental advocate and recipient of a Commonwealth Youth Award, Brianna Fruean, read a reflection, while the Representative of the Commonwealth Chair-in-Office, Minister Birtuta read from the book of Isaiah.
Prayers were made by the Reverend Robert Latham, Minor Canon and Sacrist; and faith leaders Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra, Lord Singh of Wimbledon, Rabbi Charley Baginsky, and the Venerable Bogoda Seelawimala offered words of blessing for the Commonwealth.
The event was attended by a number of dignitaries and political leaders from around the Commonwealth. Among them were the Prime Ministers of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as representatives from India, South Africa, and other nations. The presence of so many prominent figures underscored the importance of the Commonwealth as a global institution.
The service at Westminster Abbey was just one of many events held around the world to mark Commonwealth Day. From Canada to Australia, people gathered to celebrate the diversity and unity of the Commonwealth, and to reaffirm their commitment to the values of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.