Commonwealth Day 2012
On Monday 12th March, Her Majesty The Queen marked Commonwealth Day in Westminster Abbey along with Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma, former Prime Minister and Chair of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust Sir John Major, Rt Hon Lord Howell of Guildford, Commonwealth High Commissioners and a thousand school children from across the UK.
In her traditional Commonwealth Day message, The Queen celebrated the 2012 Commonwealth theme, 'Connecting Cultures':
Performances included South African jazz musician Hugh Masekela, Canadian singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright who sang his haunting version of Hallelujah, The Descarga Dance Company, the Commonwealth Youth Orchestra, and Laura Wright and the Reading Blue Coat School Choir who gave the first live performance of a Diamond Jubilee Song, Stronger as One.
Renowned primatologist Dr Jane Goodall OBE delivered a heartfelt speech, which she began with a distance greeting call of the wild chimpanzee, before emphasising the importance of protecting our planet.
Award-winning Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie also spoke, highlighting the importance of recognising diversity, she said: "The single story creates stereotypes–¦they make one story all the stories". She urged the assembled guests to recognise the importance of multiple identities, and of shared human experiences: "We must know not only how people suffer, but also how they love".
Scottish Poet Laureate, Liz Lochhead, read a poem specially commissioned for the event, Connecting Cultures, which you can read here.
Each of the more than 1,000 students present in the Abbey –“ including the three young people who presented posies to The Queen, The Duchess of Cornwall and The Countess of Wessex –“ had submitted an entry to the Royal Commonwealth Society's ambitious digital history project, the Jubilee Time Capsule, which will be sealed in June and presented to The Queen as an innovative legacy of the Diamond Jubilee. Eight of the flagbearers have been brought to London by the British Council in recognition of their participation in British Council projects and for their embodiment of the 'Connecting Cultures' theme. One flagbearer, Merlyn Diamond, is a Namibian sprinter training for the London 2012 Olympics.