Teachers' reflections on last year’s Observance:
‘On return to school the children related their experience to all the other pupils in an Assembly. Their pride at having attended such a prestigious event is almost too difficult to describe.’
‘My students were bowled over by the sense of occasion; seeing the members of The Royal Family; seeing and listening to the performances and speakers; but the highlight of the day was hearing Malala Yousafzai's address - very moving.’
‘Exceptionally well organised, topical, relevant and demonstrated the finest values of the people of the Commonwealth…’
We’re looking for 1,000 young people who would like to attend the Commonwealth Day Observance at Westminster Abbey on 9th March to help celebrate 'A Young Commonwealth'.
Each year the Commonwealth is celebrated throughout the world on the second Monday of March. Commonwealth Day is a unique opportunity to promote understanding of global issues, international co-operation and the work of Commonwealth organisations. In London, the flagship event takes the form of an Observance event held at Westminster Abbey and attended by Her Majesty The Queen, Head of the Commonwealth; the Commonwealth Secretary-General; High Commissioners; dignitaries from around the Commonwealth and specially invited guests, as well as 1,000 young people
The Observance is the largest multi-faith ceremony in the UK. The hour-long service features a mixture of testimonies, readings, songs, musical performances and an address to the Commonwealth recorded by HM The Queen and broadcast across the globe. In 2014 the keynote address was delivered by inspirational campaigner and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai - watch her speech.
Unity and diversity are two of the core values championed during the Observance. It provides an opportunity to look back and honour the linkages of the modern Commonwealth. It is also an excellent platform to foster greater understanding of the Commonwealth’s achievements and purpose, particularly among young people. The procession of the flags of the Commonwealth, the songs, the anthems and the multi-faith prayers never fail to leave an impression on and move the guests who make up the large and diverse audience.
Each year the Observance is based around the annual Commonwealth theme. The theme provides a focus for Commonwealth activities and is celebrated throughout the year. In the past, themes have included: ‘Women as Agents of Change, ‘Opportunity through Enterprise’ and ‘Connecting Cultures’. The theme for 2014 was ‘Team Commonwealth’, which expressed the spirit of friendship and motivation towards the shared goals and values that exist between Commonwealth members. It also set the tone for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in July and August. On Monday 10th March 2014, team spirit was palpable the Abbey. The Observance featured a very moving and specially-commissioned poem from South African poet Phillippa Yaa De Villiers; a musical performance by critically acclaimed singer-songwriter Laura Mvula, and addresses by Lord Seb Coe, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and Malala Yousafzai.
This year’s theme is ‘A Young Commonwealth’ underlining the fact that more than half of the people in the Commonwealth are under 25. ‘A Young Commonwealth’ also recognises the capacity, contribution and potential of young people, particularly in 2015 when the world will define a new global development framework. The Observance will be a great source of inspiration and empowerment for the 1,000 schoolchildren and members of youth organisations that will be attending. It will be the perfect opportunity for them to come together to celebrate the common values and history of the Commonwealth.