Commonwealth Day Observation
Tuesday, 10th March 2009
An Observance for Commonwealth Day at Westminster Abbey was attended by HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh.
The President of Uganda, HE Yoweri Museveni, chairperson-in-office of the Commonwealth, also attended.
In his Bidding the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, said:
Just as the Abbey is a place where faiths, cultures and traditions encounter each other so too is the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth to which we all belong is enriched by the diversity which each nation brings to it. It is a community of nations which actively seeks to strengthen the bonds of understanding and where links of friendship can be forged, underpinned by the values we hold in common.
In her Commonwealth Day Message The Queen said:
Nearly one billion people of today’s Commonwealth are under 25 years of age. These are the people that this association must continue to serve in the future. It is they who can help shape the Commonwealth of today, and whose children will inherit the Commonwealth of tomorrow. To help them make the best of their opportunities, our young men and women therefore need the opportunity to become active and responsible members of the communities in which they live.
The Commonwealth Secretary-General HE Kamalesh Sharma attended. Personal testimonies were given by Ravi Gehlot, Kwame Kwei-Armah, Hafsat Abiola, Hugh Evans and Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson.
There were performances from the One Voice Community Choir, the Ebony Steel Band, the Commonwealth Young Artists’ Ensemble, the Kiribati Tungaru Association Dance Group, the saxophonist Jason Yarde, and South African baritone Njabulo Madlala.
The choristers of the Westminster Abbey Choir, directed by Organist and Master of Choristers James O’Donnell, sang Let them Praise the Name of the Lord arranged by Abbey Organ Scholar Léon Charles. The organ was played by Robert Quinney, Sub Organist
The flags of 53 Commonwealth countries were processed through the Abbey at the start of the service.