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Commonwealth Day Observance at Westminster Abbey

9th March 2015

Their Royal Highnesses arrive for the Commonwealth Observance at Westminster Abbey

Their Royal Highnesses arrive for the Commonwealth Observance at Westminster Abbey

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The Queen and senior Members of the Royal Family have led a service celebrating the Commonwealth in London.

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh were joined by The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall and The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge for the Commonwealth Observance.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who arrived first, chatted with The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall as they waited for The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh.

They then joined a procession that included a group of Brownies, down the nave of the historic ecclesiastic building before The Queen's Commonwealth Day message was played via giant screens.

In the message, which is also being broadcast by radio in Commonwealth states today, The Queen hailed its continued role, saying what the member states share is more important now than at any point in its history.

She said the 53 nations, whose combined populations total 2.2 billion people, are "guardians of a precious flame" with an obligation to keep it burning brightly for decades to come.

She warned that "when common goals fall apart, so does the exchange of ideas. And if people no longer trust or understand each other, the talking will soon stop too".

She added that the organisation's members have drawn on their shared history to act on the "huge advantages of mutual co-operation and understanding" to the benefit of their citizens.

The annual event, which has the theme of "a young Commonwealth", also featured dancing, hymns and readings.

Realms and Commonwealth timeline

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The Duchess or Cornwall leaves Westminster Abbey after the Commonwealth Day Observance

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Their Royal Highnesses spoke with performers from the event as they left the Abbey.

They also spoke to Indian poet Sharanya Manivannan, 29, who performed a piece called Gathering that was specially commissioned for the event.

Miss Manivannan, from Chennai in southern India, said: "It was an extraordinary feeling. The Queen said I read beautifully and then Charles asked if I wrote it for the event. I said yes and he said 'that's amazing, you are brilliant'."

A procession of the flags of all the Commonwealth states led them from the Abbey at the end of the ceremony.

This year will see The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall support The Queen at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Malta on 27th- 29th November.

A speech by HRH The Prince of Wales to open the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), Colombo, Sri Lanka

Published on 15th November 2013

President Rajapaksa, ladies and gentlemen.

Thank you for your kind welcome.  My wife and I are very glad indeed to be joining you here in Colombo.  At the personal request of The Queen, I am delighted to be addressing you this morning on behalf of the Head of the Commonwealth.

Her Majesty's deep affection for the Commonwealth, and the special importance she has attached to it throughout her reign, are well known to you all.  And if I may say so, those very sentiments have been an ever-present cornerstone in my own life also.  It is therefore my particular privilege and pleasure to be representing The Queen at this, the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

Now, I am especially pleased to be back among the people of Sri Lanka who, in recent years, have confronted great adversity. My last visit here, in 2005, came just weeks after the devastating tsunami had struck these shores.  I visited communities affected by the disaster and met many of the relief workers who were doing so much to help rebuild broken lives and livelihoods.  I recall my admiration for the fortitude shown by them all at that time and commend the progress that has been made since in healing those dreadful scars.

Sri Lanka was one of the founding countries of the modern Commonwealth.  Historians of this family of nations will recall that, in the circumstances of that time, the Commonwealth showed an exceptional spirit of accommodation over how the organisation should be constituted.  This le ...

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