On 12 March 2018 people across the Commonwealth and beyond observed Commonwealth Day with community gatherings, services, flag-raising ceremonies, school assemblies and meetings in celebration of the diversity, unity and values that define the Commonwealth.
In London, the UK's largest multicultural, inter-faith service was held at Westminster Abbey in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, accompanied by members of the Royal Family. Also in attendance will be the UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, High Commissioners, Commonwealth Secretary-General, Baroness Scotland, dignitaries, faith leaders and senior politicians. The annual theme reflected was ‘Towards a Common Future'.
The Service was broadcast live on BBC One and the BBC World Service and featured a procession of Commonwealth flags, with a young flag bearer representing each of the 53 nations of the Commonwealth. Attendees were treated to musical performances from Ghanaian drum collective One-Drum, Ngāti Rānana London Maori Club, Portsmouth Gospel Choir, and British musician Liam Payne. Spoken reflections were given by award-winning spoken word artist Jaspreet Kaur, and Dr Andrew Bastawrous, Co-Founder and CEO of Peek Vision.
About The Commonwealth Service
The Commonwealth Service is the UK’s largest multi-faith celebration and takes place annually on the second Monday in March at Westminster Abbey. The one hour service features a mixture of testimonies, readings, and musical performances. Each year the Service is based around an annual Commonwealth Theme.
This unique event is traditionally attended by Her Majesty The Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, High Commissioners, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, and dignitaries from across the UK and from around the Commonwealth as well as senior politicians and 800 school children and young people.
The Royal Commonwealth Society organises the Service on behalf of a group of Commonwealth organisations, known as the Council of Commonwealth Societies (CCS).
Commonwealth Day has been celebrated across the Commonwealth, every year since the 1970s. In recent years, there has been a shift away from celebrating a single day towards celebrating Commonwealth Week, with Commonwealth Day at its focus on the first day. The aim is to celebrate the unity, diversity and links of the modern Commonwealth and to foster greater understanding of the Commonwealth’s achievements and role, particularly among young people.