Statement on the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Patron of the Royal Commonwealth Society
8 September 2022
The Royal Commonwealth Society is immensely saddened to learn of the passing of our Patron, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. We express our deepest sympathies and condolences to His Majesty The King, The Queen Consort and all Members of the Royal Family at this time.
From her public commitment to the Commonwealth family in Cape Town, South Africa, as a young princess in 1947, and throughout her long life and reign, The Queen was an instrumental figure in nurturing and inspiring this unique, voluntary association of independent, and sovereign nations.
Since becoming the Head of the Commonwealth and Patron of the Society in 1952 at the age of 26, The Queen’s dedication to the Commonwealth has been unparalleled. From her numerous official visits to nearly every Commonwealth country, to lending her name and support to programmes and events of which the Society has been honoured to deliver and support, including The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition, The Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy and The Queen’s Young Leaders, Her Majesty’s commitment to the value, and values, of this network of nations and peoples is humbling and irreplaceable.
Executive Chair of the Royal Commonwealth Society, Dr Linda Yueh, said:
“No-one has made a greater contribution to the Commonwealth over the decades than The Queen. As Head of the Commonwealth, Her Majesty personally reinforced the links by which this unique network brings peoples and countries from around the globe together in common cause.
Her life and tireless efforts will forever be linked to this voluntary association of 56 independent and equal, sovereign states, which encompass over 2.5 billion people, and to whom The Queen displayed an unwavering dedication.
As Patron of the Royal Commonwealth Society, The Queen was unstinting and gracious in her support, attending many of our highest-profile events, including the annual Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey and the High Commissioners’ Banquet. She also lent her name to a number of programmes that the Society has been honoured to deliver, including The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition, the world’s oldest international schools’ writing contest, The Queen’s Young Leaders, and most recently The Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy.
Her Majesty’s lifetime of indefatigable and selfless commitment to the Commonwealth and the Society will be truly missed.”
NOTES TO EDITORS:
About the Royal Commonwealth Society:
The Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS) is a network of individuals and organisations committed to improving the lives and prospects of Commonwealth citizens across the world. Through youth empowerment, education and high-level advocacy, the Society champions the importance of literacy, equality and inclusion, the environment and connected communities across the Commonwealth’s 56 member nations. The Society’s unique position within the Commonwealth family allows it to play a pivotal role in convening and connecting the Commonwealth’s political and diplomatic representatives, as well as industry, civil society, academic and business leaders, on a wide range of issues. Founded in 1868, the RCS is non-partisan, independent of governments and relies on public generosity to achieve its mission.
The Commonwealth Service
Each year, on the second Monday in March, the Royal Commonwealth Service organises the Commonwealth Service, the UK's largest, annual inter-faith celebration and premier public event to celebrate the Commonwealth at Westminster Abbey. The aim of the Commonwealth Service is to celebrate the unity, diversity, and linkages of the modern Commonwealth and to foster greater understanding of the Commonwealth’s achievements and role, particularly amongst its young people. The Commonwealth Service had the support of Her Majesty The Queen who attended the event each year since becoming Head of Commonwealth on all but three occasions.
Over the years, the Service has featured contributions from Nobel Laureates Kofi Annan, Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi as well as UN Patron of Oceans, Lewis Pugh, entrepreneur, Richard Branson and British world heavyweight boxing champion, Olympic gold medallist and RCS Ambassador, Anthony Joshua OBE.
The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition
The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition (QCEC) is the world’s oldest international writing competition for schools and has been proudly delivered by the Royal Commonwealth Society since 1883. In the past decade alone, this high-profile competition has engaged over 166,000 children, over 5,000 schools and around 1,000 volunteer judges. Past winners have gone on to become leaders in their fields, including the Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr Lee Hsien Loong, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Mei Fong, and the renowned author, the late Elspeth Huxley CBE.
The Commonwealth Essay Competition was renamed The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition in 2015 in honour of our Patron Her Majesty The Queen’s dedication to the Commonwealth.
The Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy
The Queen's Commonwealth Canopy (QCC), was launched at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta in 2015. It presents a unique opportunity to unite the whole Commonwealth family and save one of the world's most important natural habitats - our forests. By creating a pan-Commonwealth network of forest conservation projects across all 56 Commonwealth countries, the QCC will mark Her Majesty The Queen's service to the Commonwealth while conserving indigenous forests for future generations.
The QCC is the first environmental initiative in The Queen’s name and involves all but two Commonwealth nations, Togo and Gabon, who joined in the Commonwealth at the Rwanda CHOGM in June 2022. The QCC is a partnership between the Royal Commonwealth Society, the Commonwealth Forestry Association and Cool Earth.
The High Commissioners’ Banquet
The Royal Commonwealth Society has been the custodian of the High Commissioners' Banquet since it held its first 'conversazione' in 1874. It quickly became the highlight of the London social scene - by 1882, over 2,000 people attended. The event ceased in the 1960s, but with the encouragement of High Commissioners was revived in 2011 and has since been an annual event for High Commissioners and senior Commonwealth representatives.
For the last few years, the High Commissioners' Banquet has been held at Guildhall, in partnership with the City of London Corporation, and is an opportunity to bring together the Commonwealth's London-based diplomatic representatives and UK and Commonwealth thought and business leaders.
The Queen's Young Leaders (QYL)
Between 2015-2018, 240 exceptional young people from across the Commonwealth received a Queen’s Young Leaders Award in recognition of the work they were undertaking to transform their lives and the lives of those around them. The now complete network of Queen’s Young Leaders, many of whom are Associate Fellows of the Society, is a unique, dedicated and powerful group of young people from Commonwealth countries who are connecting, collaborating, and changing lives together.
Social media: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook: @RoyalCWSociety
Elizabeth van der Valk, Head of Public Affairs
E: firstname.lastname@example.org | T: +44 (0)20 3727 4309