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COMMONWEALTH DAY SERVICE OF CELEBRATION

Organised by the Royal Commonwealth Society, the oldest charity dedicated to the Commonwealth, the Commonwealth Day Service of Celebration is the world’s premier public event to celebrate the Commonwealth. The Service provides an annual opportunity to promote the value and values of this voluntary association of nations bound together in common endeavour.

Guests of honour among the 2,000-strong congregation include Members of The Royal Family, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, High Commissioners, senior politicians and dignitaries from across the UK and the Commonwealth, alongside Commonwealth Games athletes, faith leaders, and over 600 school children from across the United Kingdom.

Not only does the Commonwealth mark its 75th anniversary, 2024 is the second year of the Year of Youth in recognition of the tremendous contributions of young people in strengthening the people-to-people links that make this family of nations so special.

This year will also see the bi-annual Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), where Rwanda will hand over to Samoa as the Chair-in-Office. Taking place in October, the theme of CHOGM and the theme for the Service is One Resilient Common Future: Transforming our Common Wealth. The Commonwealth theme echoes back to the Commonwealth’s founding pledges: a commitment 75 years ago to ‘peace, liberty and progress’ in the London Declaration that can only be achieved by building resilient communities and environments.

Damage to our natural world is an issue that particularly affects the Commonwealth, where nearly half of its members are Small Island Developing States. Whether through the protection of our forests and green spaces, which store carbon and cool our earth, or addressing plastics pollution, which spreads into our ecosystems and harms our oceans, protecting the environment for future generations is a shared aim. Learn more about our environmental work.

This theme of resilience is evident throughout the performances, spanning all five regions of the Commonwealth. From the extraordinary story of the Ugandan Ghetto Kids to the all-female Indian Dhol drummers to the Samoan opera singers, today’s music celebrates the hope that emanates from all corners of the Commonwealth, even and particularly during challenging times.

We are also delighted to announce that, once again, the event will be broadcast live in the UK on BBC One BBC iPlayer from 2.15pm, as well as being available on the BBC World Service and for an international audience on BBC YouTube.

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Eternal Taal is a uniquely all-female Bhangra performance group focusing on dhol drumming and dance. They have appeared at the Glastonbury Festival, on the BBC World Service, for Comic Relief, Bollywood and participated in The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012.The group has won the Contribution of Bhangra Music in the UK award from the House of Commons. They have performed at celebrations for the Commonwealth Games Legacy.

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The Ghetto Kids are a social phenomenon born from a passion to give as many Ugandan orphans an equal opportunity to education, accommodation, food, resources and a home. The group represents positivity and garners hope for deprived communities all over the world to overcome difficult circumstances. To create a fun environment, the NGO “Ghetto Kids” started to create fun activities like dance classes, which found their way onto YouTube. The content went viral and accumulated millions of views.

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Calum Scott is an English singer and songwriter who rose to prominence after competing on the ITV talent contest Britain’s Got Talent. With the arrival of his 2018 debut album Only Human, Scott landed at No. 1 on the iTunes album chart in over 20 countries around the world, approaching 10 billion total global streams and counting. Now certified platinum or gold in 21 countries, Only Human includes his five-times-platinum smash You Are The Reason, a track that cracked the top 25 on Spotify’s US Viral 50 and hit the top 10 on iTunes single charts in 38 countries. In 2023, Calum performed at the Coronation Concert and Festival of Remembrance and is currently on tour with Ed Sheeran. Scott is also a firm advocate for mental resilience and supports charities focused on mental health awareness.

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Jacob Portelli is the resident harpist of the Archdiocese of Malta and has occupied this position since 2020. He is a founding member and violist of the Cordia string quartet that regularly performs at private and state functions. In 2016, Cordia performed for Queen Elizabeth II during the 2016 Commonwealth Day celebration at Marlborough House, London. Jacob holds an LRSM in harp and violin and a Diploma in viola. He plays the baroque violin and baroque cello and is a member and leader of the continuo section of the Valletta International Baroque Ensemble. Jacob released four studio albums in 2020: Kinnor, Nevel, The Christmas Song and We Three Kings. Jacob’s lifelong passion for music has led him to perform in various European cities, including Athens, Caltagirone, London, and Torino.

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Spencer Klymyshyn. Named by the Canadian Broadcast Corporation as one of Canada’s 30 top classical musicians under 30 and praised by International Piano Magazine for his handling of melody, Spencer Klymyshyn has won first-place awards in numerous national competitions, including the Canadian Music Competition. Spencer has performed in Canada, Europe, and the UK, and as a soloist on tour with the Symphony New Brunswick. Spencer graduated from McGill University before moving to London to study at the Guildhall School with Ronan O’Hora, Martin Roscoe, and Charles Owen, where he completed his Master’s degree and is now pursuing his Artist Diploma in Piano Performance.

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Isabella Moore is a New Zealand born Sāmoan soprano. She grew up in Auckland, New Zealand before moving to Wales and then San Francisco for her opera training before settling in London. She made her UK operatic and role debut singing Gutrune in the GAFA Arts Collective production of Wagner’s Götterdamerung.

Benson Wilson is an award-winning New Zealand born Samoan baritone. Benson is a recently appointed English National Opera (ENO) Harewood Artist and is quickly establishing himself as one of today’s most promising baritones. Benson returns to the ENO this season in Calixto Bieito’s iconic production of Carmen in the role of Morales and will sing the role of Horemhab in Phelim McDermott’s award winning production of Phillip Glass’s Akhnaten.

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Trinity Laban Conservatoire Junior Department, based in the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, is well known for celebrating musical, cultural and creative diversity. Singing is particularly important to life in the Junior Department, and every single student sings in at least one of their many choirs. The Vocal Consort is made up of some of their most talented and promising students. This performance represents the collaborative spirit often at the heart of Trinity’s music and involves music from across the Commonwealth, including a number of small island states such as Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago 

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The Choir of Westminster Abbey is a world-famous choir of boys and men which plays a central role both in the daily choral services in the Abbey and in the many royal, state, and national occasions which take place here. In addition, the choir’s schedule includes a wide range of high-profile recordings, broadcasts, concerts and overseas tours. All of the choristers are educated at the Abbey’s unique residential Choir School. Auditions take place throughout the year, and enquiries are welcome at any time.

The Speakers are as follows:

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Lise Honsinger represents Notpla, the company founded by Pierre Paslier and Rodrigo Garcia Gonzalez and is a London-based start-up and winner of The Earthshot Prize 2022, founded by HRH The Prince of Wales. Notpla is an alternative to plastic made from seaweed and plants. It is completely natural and entirely biodegradable and can be used to create a range of packaging products, such as a bubble to hold liquids, a coating for food containers, and a paper for the cosmetic and fashion industry.

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His Excellency Johnston Busingye was appointed as Rwanda's High Commissioner to the Court of Saint James in August 2021. He has a diverse background in law and justice. He began his career as a Legal Officer at Uganda Airlines and later served as the Director of Airports in Rwanda. Busingye played a key role in reopening the international airport post-war and genocide. He then practised as an advocate and served as the National Prosecutor, contributing to justice sector reforms. As Secretary General for the Ministry of Justice, he oversaw various justice-related services. Busingye later served as the President of the High Court in Rwanda and as Principal Judge of the East African Court of Justice. During his tenure as Minister of Justice and Attorney General (2013-2021), he significantly contributed to transforming Rwanda's justice system. Busingye is married to Phoebe Murerwa and is a father of six children.

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Sir Ben Okri OBE is a poet, novelist, essayist, short story writer, anthologist, aphorist, and playwright. He has also written film scripts. His works have won numerous national and international prizes, including the Booker Prize for Fiction. Sir Ben has received numerous honorary doctorates for his contribution to literature. Recently, his Grenfell poem on Channel Four YouTube has achieved more than 6 million visits on Facebook. His poem is engraved in the Memorial Gates, “Our future is greater than our past.”Sir Ben will be reciting a specially commissioned poem for the Commonwealth Day Service 2024, focusing on resilience and the Commonwealth.

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The Right Honourable Patricia Scotland KC became the first woman to take office as Secretary-General of the Commonwealth in April 2016. Born in Dominica, she moved to the UK at an early age and rose to become a distinguished barrister. In 1991, she became the first black woman to be appointed Queen’s Counsel. She was elevated to the House of Lords in 1997 and in 2007 became the first woman to hold the office of Attorney General in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. She was re-elected for a second term as Secretary-General in 2022 and continues to serve the 56 nations and 2.5 billion citizens of the Commonwealth.

​This webpage will host coverage of the Commonwealth Day Service after the day, please check back here after the Service.​For updates and announcements about the Service, make sure to follow us on X, Facebook and Instagram @RoyalCWSociety.

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