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An Observance for Commonwealth Day 2008

Monday, 10th March 2008

An Observance for Commonwealth Day 2008

The Queen attended the annual Commonwealth Observance accompanied by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, together with President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, who currently chairs the Commonwealth Heads of Government, and Mrs Museveni.

The Queen suggested that the developed world should work with communities that are most affected to bring about lasting change:

Happily, this approach has always been a strength of the Commonwealth, and awareness of environmental issues is now widespread, with a determination that future generations should enjoy clean air, sufficient fresh water and energy without risking damage to the planet.

In his welcome, the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, said:

This Commonwealth Day focuses our attention on the environment and challenges us to give high priority to creating a new equilibrium as humanity’s responsibility to protect the environment is balanced against humanity’s right to development and wealth. It calls us away from concern only for ourselves and our own communities and towards a proper care for the needs of others.

The testimonies delivered at the Observance focused on the environment: Living with the Rising Seas (Fathimath Ghina), Using New Technologies (Gardiner Hill), Fighting Climate Change (Professor Mohan Munasinghe), Action by Local Communities (Rebecca Hosking) and Respecting Earth’s Living Systems (Dr. Charles Abugre). Spiritual leaders from the nine world faiths responded to the Testimonies quoting from their own religious traditions. Prayers were led by Christian leaders from several denominations.

The sixth testimony, The Commonwealth Challenge, was delivered by the Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Don McKinnon, with a response from President Museveni. The choristers of Westminster Abbey, conducted by the Organist and Master of Choristers James O’Donnell, the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Choir, the Royal College of Music Junior Department Choir, directed by Joy Hill, the Africa Children’s Choir, the Maori dance troupe Ngati Ranana, the award-winning flautist Keith Waithe, the New Zealand soprano Madeleine Pierard, the Brass Dectet of the Royal College of Music Junior Department directed by Peter Harvey and Youth Music all took part in the service, which began with the procession of the 53 flags of the Commonwealth nations through the Abbey.

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At different times of the day, or in different seasons, the light falling in the Abbey will light up something that you have walked past a million times and never seen before.

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Vanessa, Head of Conservation

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