Earlier today, Her Majesty The Queen and Their Royal Highnesses The Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall, The Duke of Cambridge and The Duchess of Cambridge marked Commonwealth Day in Westminster Abbey. The Observance marked the launch of the 2015 Commonwealth theme ‘A Young Commonwealth’.
International child rights’ campaigner and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Kailash Satyarthi, gave a powerful address to assembled guests. “Whenever and wherever a society fails its children and young people, it fails itself…As we speak, around 160 million children are languishing in child labour. The world must listen to the voices of the young. They are rising up for freedom…We have to make the Commonwealth a Commonwealth free from child slavery.”
In her Commonwealth Day message, HM The Queen said: “…it seems to me that now, in the second decade of the twenty-first century, what we share through being members of the Commonwealth is more important and worthy of protection than perhaps at any other time in the Commonwealth’s existence. We are guardians of a precious flame, and it is our duty not only to keep it burning brightly, but to keep it replenished for the decades ahead…the Commonwealth can only flourish if its ideas and ideals continue to be young and fresh and relevant to all generations.”
Other speakers at the Observance included Queen’s Young Leader and community mobiliser in the fight against Ebola, PJ Cole and Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, the first female Speaker of the Parliament of Bangladesh.
Lord Howell, President of the Royal Commonwealth Society said: “This is a Commonwealth family occasion reminding us that this great world network of 53 countries belongs to the young and to the future.”
Director of the Royal Commonwealth Society, Michael Lake said: “It’s inspiring to be part of the Commonwealth, a network that exists for the common good of its member states and citizens. I believe there is a new appreciation of this association of countries with shared values and interests at a time when having friends in the world has never been more important for safety and prosperity. We’re delighted that each generation of the Royal Family at the most senior level, as well as many dignitaries and diplomats from around the world, attended the Observance today. There is a real sense that the true worth and relevance of the Commonwealth is being rediscovered.”
The multi-award winning South African a cappella group, The Soil performed ‘We are One (Celebrate Humanity)’ and a poem, specially commissioned for Commonwealth Day, entitled ‘Gathering’, was read by Indian poet, Sharanya Manivannan.
The Observance, Britain’s largest annual inter-faith gathering, was attended by nearly 1,000 children from schools and youth groups with Commonwealth links.
More video footage, images and speeches from the day coming soon...