Former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan has said it has never been more important for the Commonwealth to stress the bonds of human compassion and solidarity that unite everyone across the divides of race and religion, gender and geography.
And Zambia’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom His Excellency Mr. Muyeba Chikonde and his fellow High Commissioners accredited to the Court of St. James’s on Monday joined Her Majesty the Queen to celebrate Commonwealth Day at the Commonwealth Service held at Westminster Abbey.
Her Majesty The Queen, the Head of the Commonwealth for 64 years, attended the annual Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey, the largest multi-faith service in the UK. Her Majesty was joined by The Duke of Edinburgh, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, The Duke of York, and Prince Henry of Wales. The Commonwealth Service was the first major ceremonial event for Her Majesty in her 90th birthday year.
Guests of honour included UK Prime Minister David Cameron, the Prime Minister of Malta and new Chair-in-Office of the Commonwealth, Dr Joseph Muscat, diplomats, High Commissioners, and faith leaders. Highlights of the Service included a principal reflection from former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and a performance from singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding. The Service was also attended by almost 1,000 school children from across the UK.
The theme for this year’s Commonwealth Day is ‘An Inclusive Commonwealth’ and was broadcast live on BBC One for the first time.The celebrations, which take place across the Commonwealth on the second Monday in March every year, provide an opportunity to promote understanding on global issues, international co-operation and the work of Commonwealth organisations.
Although not a trading bloc, trade and investment within the Commonwealth are thriving.
In 2013, intra-Commonwealth trade was estimated to be $592 billion and projections suggest this will surpass $1 trillion by 2020. Several factors unique to the Commonwealth may account for this, including historical links, shared values, common language and rule of law.
Speaking at the Commonwealth Day service held at Westminster Abbey Kofi Annan said that, as a Ghanaian he felt very much part of the Commonwealth family: “It has never been more important for the Commonwealth to stress the bonds of human compassion and solidarity that unite us across the divides of race and religion, gender and geography.”
He paid tribute to the monarch who, in her annual address to the family of nations, called on the Commonwealth’s citizens to support those in need.
Mr. Annan said the Commonwealth not only strengthened links between member countries, but offered practical support from election monitoring to promoting security co-operation.
And Lord Howell, President of the Royal Commonwealth Society and Chairman of the Council of Commonwealth Societies said: “The Service at Westminster Abbey not only brings the great Commonwealth family together but gives us a glimpse of a future in which the Commonwealth network of nations and peoples, young and old, will be an increasing source of strength and reassurance to us all in an unsettled and uncertain world.”