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King Charles joins Royal Family, diplomats and school children to celebrate the Commonwealth

Posted on: March 14, 2023 9:26 AM
His Majesty King Charles III delivers his Commonwealth Day Message during a celebration service in London’s Westminster Abbey
Photo Credit: Westminster Abbey / Picture Partnership

His Majesty King Charles III led senior members of the Royal Family at the 2023 annual Commonwealth Day Service of Celebration at Westminster Abbey in London yesterday (Monday). Commonwealth Day has been marked every year since the 1970s to recognise the unity and diversity of the 56 member states. Spanning countries around Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe and the Pacific, the 2.5 billion citizens of the Commonwealth are home to a myriad of cultures, religions and traditions.

The years’ Service of Celebration was the first with King Charles as head of the Commonwealth, following the death of the late Queen Elizabeth II last year. Following the King’s entrance, to the fanfare of the State Trumpeters of the Household Cavalry, the service began with a procession of the flags of all 56 member states, carried through the Abbey by young citizens from each country.

Young people from the Commonwealth prepare to process into Westminster Abbey with their Nation’s flags

Young people from the Commonwealth prepare to process into Westminster Abbey with their Nation’s flags.
: Westminster Abbey / Picture Partnership

Performers from across the Commonwealth shared their traditions of music and dance with the 2000-strong congregation of High Commissioners and Ambassadors, faith leaders, honoured guests, and 750 school children and young people from across the United Kingdom. Performances included Roshani Abbey and Nuwan Hugh Perera from Asia performing Anagathaye, the Amalgamation Choir of Cyprus in Europe singing Exile of Eros and the Urukerereza, National Ballet of Rwanda, Africa, performing Uzaze Urebe.

Other members of the Royal Family present at the service included Prince William and Princess Catherine, the Prince and Princess of Wales; Princess Ann, the Princess Royal, and her husband Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence; and Prince Edward and Princess Sophie, the newly-created Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh.


Their Royal Highnesses the Prince and Princess of Wales, Prince William and Princess Catherine; the Princess Royal, Princess Anne; the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh, Prince Edward and Sophie; and the Amalgamation Choir of Cyprus, at the annual Commonwealth Day Celebration Service in Westminster Abbey
: Westminster Abbey / Picture Partnership

The theme for Commonwealth Day 2023 is Forging a sustainable and peaceful common future. The Royal Commonwealth Society said that the theme combines the “active commitment of member states to support the promotion of peace, prosperity and sustainability, especially through climate action, so as to secure a better future for our young people and improve the lives of all Commonwealth citizens.”

In his address to the congregation, the King paid a heartfelt tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth and her commitment to the Commonwealth. He then expanding upon the Commonwealth Day theme and said that the richness and diversity of the Commonwealth continues to be a source of personal inspiration and that its member states have the potential to be a tremendous source of good in the world, fostering peace, justice and protection for the most vulnerable.

“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,” King Charles said. “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.”

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His Majesty King Charles III at the annual Commonwealth Day Celebration Service in Westminster Abbey
: Westminster Abbey / Picture Partnership

The King emphasised environmental concerns and the imperative to act to prevent climate change and a loss biodiversity. He said the members states had the “extraordinary potential” to play a pivotal role in tackling climate change and building a secure future for the planet and people of all nations; “Let ours be a Commonwealth which not only stands together, but strives together for a global common good.”

The service concluded with the Act of Affirmation to the Commonwealth, led by the Commonwealth Secretary General, Baroness Scotland KC. The congregation affirmed that: “every person possesses unique worth and dignity” and a “respect for the natural world, and that we will be stewards of the earth by caring for every part of it, and working together for a sustainable future.”

The Commonwealth of Nations is an association of 56 member states with a combined population of 2.5 billion citizens, almost a third of the world’s people. Commonwealth countries span Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe and the Pacific and are diverse – they are amongst the world’s largest, smallest, richest and poorest countries.