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Commonwealth Day Service of Celebration 2024, 11 March 2024

Updated: Apr 4



Last week on 11 March 2024, the Royal Commonwealth Society welcomed Her Majesty The Queen, HRH The Prince of Wales, TRH The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh, HRH The Princess Royal, TRH The Duke and Duchess of Kent, TRH The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and HRH The Duke of Kent to the Commonwealth Day Service of Celebration at Westminster Abbey. They were joined by dignitaries from across the Commonwealth, including The Honourable Dr George Vella, President of Malta and The Right Honourable Patricia Scotland KC, Secretary General of the Commonwealth.

 

This Service looked ahead to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), where Rwanda will hand over to Samoa as the Commonwealth 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.

This theme of resilience was evident throughout the performances and readings of the Service, spanning all five regions of the Commonwealth.


His Majesty The King’s Commonwealth Day Message, viewed during the Service, emphasised the people, energy and ideas of the Commonwealth and the links that tie them together.



Celebrated author and poet Sir Ben Okri OBE recited his poem Transcending History, specially commissioned for this occasion, marking the 75th anniversary of the Commonwealth.


Lise Honsinger representing Notpla, a UK-based start-up making sustainable packaging materials from seaweed, gave a reflection on environmental resilience and the importance of concrete action. Notpla won the Earthshot Prize in 2022, which was founded by The Prince of Wales.


Eternal Taal, performed outside the Great West Door of the Abbey, welcoming guests with their dhol drumming. The group has long worked to promote Bhangra music more widely and encourage women to participate. Trinity Laban Conservatoire Junior Department from Greenwich provided the preservice music.


The first performance, representing Africa, were The Ghetto Kids, a dance group formed from a charity to help children in the impoverished Katwe area of Kampala, Uganda. Their aims are to provide equal opportunity to education, accommodation, food and other resources to children in need.  The group’s music represents positivity and garners hope for deprived communities all over the world to overcome difficult circumstances.


Europe was represented by a double act of British singer Calum Scott and Jacob Portelli, a harpist from Malta; Calum Scott is an English singer and songwriter who rose to prominence after competing on the ITV talent contest Britain’s Got Talent. He performed at the Coronation Concert and Festival of Remembrance. Scott has been a firm advocate for mental resilience and supports charities focused on mental health awareness. Jacob Portelli is a resident harpist of the Archdiocese of Malta and founding member of Corida string quarter, which performed for the late Queen Elizabeth II.


Spencer Klymyshyn, a young Canadian pianist, represented the Americas and Caribbean region. Named by the Canadian Broadcast Corporation as one of Canada’s 30 top classical musicians under 30, Spencer has won numerous awards, including the Canadian Music Competition.


The final performance was from the Pacific, a husband and wife pair of Samoan opera singers, Isabella Moore and Benson Wilson, who sang a traditional Samoan song Tofa Mai Feleni, which bids farewell to old friends.


The Commonwealth Mace was carried by Matthew Ward, a swimmer who excelled at the 2023 Commonwealth Youth Games. The Commonwealth flag was carried by Maya Kirti Nanan, Commonwealth Young Person of the Year 2023, for her work with those with special needs in Trinidad and Tobago.


Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, The Rt Hon Baroness Patricia Scotland KC, led the Act of Affirmation to the Commonwealth and the scripture reading was given by His Excellency Johnston Busingye, representing Rwanda as Chair-in-Office.


Watch the service in full:






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