On 11 March 2019 people across the Commonwealth and beyond celebrated Commonwealth Day with community gatherings, services, flag-raising ceremonies, school assemblies and meetings.
In London, Her Majesty The Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, accompanied by The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex and The Duke of York attended the annual Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey. Also in attendance was the UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, High Commissioners, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, dignitaries, faith leaders and senior politicians. The annual theme reflected was 'A Connected Commonwealth'.
The Service was broadcast live on BBC One and across the BBC World Service, streamed live on the BBC YouTube channel and can be viewed on BBC iPlayer. The Service featured a procession of Commonwealth flags, with a young flag bearer representing each of the 53 nations of the Commonwealth. Attendees were treated to performances from Tropical Flowers Séga Dancers, The Hertfordshire Commonwealth Choir, The Dionysus Ensemble, The Dhol Foundation, Clean Bandit, William Barton, Alfie Boe, B Positive Choir and the Choir of Westminster Abbey. The principal reflection was given by UN Patron of Oceans, Lewis Pugh.
About the Commonwealth Service
Organised by The Royal Commonwealth Society, the Commonwealth Service is the largest inter-faith gathering in the United Kingdom and provides an opportunity to focus attention on this voluntary association of 53 countries and their commitment to promoting democracy, human rights, the rule of law and equality for its 2.4 billion citizens. The service features a mixture of testimonies, readings, and music performances. Each year the Service is based around the 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 the Council of Commonwealth Societies.
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.