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Her Majesty The Queen attends the Commonwealth Service

Monday, 9th March 2020

Her Majesty The Queen attends the Commonwealth Service

Her Majesty The Queen led the congregation at the annual Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey on Monday 9th March 2020.

Her Majesty was accompanied by The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and the Earl and Countess of Wessex.

The 2,000 strong congregation included the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson; the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Baroness Scotland; High Commissioners and Ambassadors; senior politicians from across the UK and the Commonwealth; faith leaders; and more than 800 school children and young people.

Held on the second Monday of March each year, the Commonwealth Service is Britain’s largest annual inter-faith gathering, and celebrates the people and cultures of the 54 Commonwealth nations.

The service, which was conducted by the Dean of Westminster, David Hoyle, included performances by singers Alexandra Burke and Craig David; African drumming group One-Drum; and south London-based steel orchestra, Melodians.

Anthony Joshua OBE, British world heavyweight boxing champion and Olympic gold medallist, read a reflection in and which he spoke of his Commonwealth heritage:

I am proudly British and Nigerian and I join a long line – perhaps too long to count – of UK citizens of Commonwealth origin who’ve made enormous contributions to this great, multi-cultural society of ours.

Spoken word poet Suli Breaks also read a reflection.

The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, gave a reading from Luke 10.

The Commonwealth Secretary-General, Baroness Scotland, led the Act of Affirmation to the Commonwealth.

The service was sung by The Choir of Westminster Abbey, conducted by James O’Donnell, Organist and Master of the Choristers. The organ was played by Peter Holder, Sub-Organist, and before the service by Matthew Jorysz, Assistant Organist.

The Westminster Abbey Company of Ringers rang 270 changes of Grandsire Caters before the service, and 653 changes of Stedman Caters as The Queen and members of the Royal Family departed at the end of the service.

Posies were presented to The Queen, The Duchess of Cornwall, The Duchess of Cambridge, The Duchess of Sussex and the Countess of Wessex by: Ruby, aged 10, from Nash Mill Primary School, Tring; Zainah, aged 8, from Godwin Junior School, London; Ruby, aged 6, from 1st Magor Rainbows, Wales; Lily, aged 14, from Children's Hospital School Leicester; Connie, aged 9, from Northern Ireland.

Before the service, the Griffin Schools Commonwealth Choir and the Purcell School’s Brass Quintet performed in the Abbey, and the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo performed traditional Scottish dancing and music outside the Great West Door.

The Commonwealth

The Commonwealth is an association of 54 member states with a combined population of 2.4 billion citizens, almost a third of the world's people. Commonwealth countries span Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe and the Pacific and are diverse – they are amongst the world’s largest, smallest, richest and poorest countries. 

The Queen’s Commonwealth message

In her Commonwealth Day Message 2020, published in the Order of Service, The Queen writes:

On Commonwealth occasions, it is always inspiring to be reminded of the diversity of the people and countries that make up our worldwide family. We are made aware of the many associations and influences that combine through Commonwealth connection, helping us to imagine and deliver a common future.
This is particularly striking when we see people from nations, large and small, gathering for the Commonwealth Games, for meetings of Commonwealth governments, and on Commonwealth Day. Such a blend of traditions serves to make us stronger, individually and collectively, by providing the ingredients needed for social, political and economic resilience.
Throughout my life, I have had the opportunity to see and hear how membership of the Commonwealth family means so much to those living in all parts of the world, often in places that are quite remote. Advances in technology and modern media have now enabled many more people to witness and enjoy - with remarkable immediacy - this experience of Commonwealth connection, in areas such as education, medicine and conservation.
Looking to the future, this connectivity means we are also aware, perhaps as never before, that wherever we live, our choices and actions affect the well-being of people and communities living far away, and in very different circumstances. For many, this awareness awakens a desire to employ our planet’s natural resources with greater care, and it is encouraging to see how the countries of the Commonwealth continue to devise new ways of working together to achieve prosperity, whilst protecting our planet.
As members of this very special community, on this Commonwealth Day, I hope that the people and countries of the Commonwealth will be inspired by all that we share, and move forward with fresh resolve to enhance the Commonwealth’s influence for good in our world.

Broadcast

The service was broadcast live on BBC One and the BBC World Service, and is available to watch on the BBC iPlayer in the UK for the next 30 days.

The Order of Service

Order of Service for The Commonwealth Service 2020 (4.37MB)

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Gerlinde - Abbey Marshal

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