Reeta Chakrabarti introduces live coverage of a service of celebration for Commonwealth Day from Westminster Abbey in London, attended by HM the Queen.
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Good afternoon and welcome to Westminster Abbey for a special
service to celebrate the 52 nations of the Commonwealth
This service is held every year at Westminster Abbey and today
Our relationship with the Commonwealth stretches
back decades, but it could be that it is about to assume
Soon, with our upcoming exit from the European Union,
Britain's place in the world will change forever.
We'll be looking for new partners and new relationships
as well as endeavouring to renew and refresh some of our traditional
alliances and representatives from those old alliances will be
The Commonwealth has been the most enduring achievement
of The Queen's reign and today, here at Westminster Abbey,
it will be celebrated as it is every year.
But this year of all years it may be with renewed vigour
with an eye on Britain's future as much as our past.
Well, as Head of the Commonwealth the Queen will lead the congregation
With her will be the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales
and the Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Harry.
The Commonwealth has always been hugely important to the Queen
in a very personal way, and she has passed that
commitment down to the younger members of her Family.
Last year Prince Harry visited seven Commonwealth countries
The Royal Family's attendance here today, and every year,
reflects their continued support of the Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth has an exceptionally young population.
Of the its two and a half billion people, 60% are under 30-years-old.
So gathered here in the congregation are over 600 school children,
reflecting the Commonwealth's commitment to youth.
They recognise that the continued success of the Commonwealth
rests with the young promoting its principles and values.
As you would expect from an association that spans
almost every corner of the globe today's service has
There will be music and readings from across the Commonwealth.
Baroness Scotland is playing a significant role in today's
proceedings. Patricia Scotland made history by becoming the sixth
Secretary-General and I know Secretary-General you have referred
to yourself as a classic child of the Caribbean. How does that
background prepare you for this role? Well, of course, because I've
always been a child of the Commonwealth. I've got an Antiguan
father. I was born in Dominic ka, but I grew up in the United Kingdom.
Classic Commonwealth territory. And it makes me so proud now to be here
as Secretary-General, head of the secretariat and sefring all 52
countries in our Celt and 2.4 billion people. You've been serving
that many people for almost a year now and in those 12 months so much
has changed. How do you think the Commonwealth has to adapt to the
challenges? I think one of the great things about the Commonwealth is 60%
of our citizens are beneath the age of 30. So young, vibrant, forward
looking, their future is all there before them and now the people say
if the Commonwealth didn't exist we'd to make it up. We've got six
regions, all races, all colours, all nationalities within our
Commonwealth, but just as importantly, we share common
language, common institutions and common values and that's binding us
together and that friendship has been absolutely phenomenal. Is that
where the Commonwealth draws it's main strength from? I think it is
because we have so much in common and we have been together for so
many years that that nexus is really tight and binds us and this year we
are doing a peace building Commonwealth. We are starting with
peace in our home. One in three women will suffer from domestic
violence at some stage. We would like to reverse that and we want the
Commonwealth to be right up there in front, planning, and working
together, trying to decide what works and what doesn't work and then
doing that which works to make us a safer, better, more peaceful
Commonwealth. Secretary-General, thank you very much. We look forward
to hearing your affirmation later. Thank you.
Watching this service with me, sitting Inside Westminster Abbey is
Dr Sue Onslow, we heard from Baroness Scotland. She is the
Secretary-General, but if we take a step back, how important do you
think the Commonwealth really is? Well, in these days of conflict
politics, more than ever. The Commonwealth is an extraordinary
people organisation. It's an association that relies on multiple
connections across the world and it's an opportunity for people to
work together. It works by consensus and by peer encouragement rather
than coercion and compulsion and its DNA is everyone has an equal voice
and I think right now, we need the politics and activities that foster
co-operation. It is interesting you say that because it is a pivotal
time, isn't it, with the Prime Minister intending to notify the
European Union of Britain's intention to withdraw from the EU
very shortly. This is a rapidly changing world. Given the context,
what role do you think the Commonwealth can play? The modern
Commonwealth is, it is not a nostalgic organisation. It grew out
of Britain's relations with its former colonies, but it is a
different entity now. It is a political organisation as well as a
developal association and it works in multiple ways, strengthening,
democracy in its member states and on the big themes that touch
people's lives every day. The Secretary-General made reference to
women's rights and issues. Issues of climate change to support youth, so
much of the Commonwealth's work goes on below the surface. It is like an
iceberg. Its professional associations of which there are over
80 form a Matrix of networks across the world, covering professions,
judges, lawyers, Local Government, Parliament. Sharing knowledge and
expertise. So, a lot of people might think of the Commonwealth as quite a
quaint organisation, something with its roots in the past. But with not
very much of a presence in the present. Is that fair? I don't think
it is. I understand why you might think that, but I go back to my
point about it being an iceberg. It has hard-headed practical value as
well as important spiritual and political value in terms of its
support for the values within the Commonwealth Charter. So, it has, as
I said, a relevance in today's world, more than ever before. Well,
one of the most established and well-known institutions of the
Commonwealth must be the Commonwealth Games and this morning,
we saw the start of the Queen's Baton Relay from Buckingham Palace.
The 288 day journey began when Anna Mears had the privilege of accepting
the baton from Her Majesty the Queen.
APPLAUSE Anna is joined by fellow
international cycling great and nine times world champion, Great
Britain's Victoria Pendleton. Its third baton bearer is Cody
Simpson. A van arrives outside the gates of
Buckingham Palace to take the baton on the next stage of its journey.
And we can see the combi van on the last part of its journey coming up
to Westminster Abbey. Bringing that baton containing the message from
the Queen and Sue, it is interesting, isn't it, I suspect
that most people, when they think about the Commonwealth will think
about the Games? Commonwealth Games? Sport is a visual fun part of the
Commonwealth. We saw that in Glasgow in 2014 when Usain Bolt came and
sprinkle his stardust on the Commonwealth Games. I'm looking at
the surf board on the back of the combi van. In the Commonwealth small
countries are able to compete at respected credible international
level. There are 23 small states in the Commonwealth and may have
limited training and coaching resources so competing at
Commonwealth level really is an important afamation. We see Dame
Jessica Ennis-Hill arriving with the Queen's baton. The global superstar,
of course, world heptathlon champion and herself a participant in the
Commonwealth Games and the Youth Games from 2004. The Commonwealth
has an exceptionally young population, doesn't it, Sue, in a
way it is not surprising that sport would be central to its identity?
Well, sport helps young people connect with the Commonwealth in a
unique way and wise Commonwealth heads have long realised this. As I
said, it offers the point of team building. It supports peace
building. All part of that bigger jigsaw of the Commonwealth's work
and of course, there is also cricket which is such an enjoyable sport
across the Commonwealth. And inpenetrable who anyone that's not a
member of it. We can see the baton being held by Dame Jessica
Ennis-Hill. The two of them are followed by a procession of
Commonwealth athletes. Included in the group is the Australian track
cyclist Anna Mears who shared a friendly rivalry with Victoria
Pendleton and also is Kurt Fearnley who will be reading later on in the
service. Cody Simpson is singing, who was at the age of 12 a gold
medal swimmer. # I think to myself what a wonderful
world. # We see the baton being placed on the
High Altar by the Dean of Westminster. It will remain there
for the duration of the service before it journeys across 70 nations
on its way to the Gold Coast Games in Australia.
# Saying how do you do. # But they're really saying I love
you. # I hear babies cry.
# They'll learn much more than I'll ever know.
# And I think to myself what a wonderful day."
There are many different facets of the Commonwealth reflected
Geri Horner is in the congregation. Geri brought along her ten-year-old
daughter, Bluebell. Geri tell us about your experiences of travelling
to Commonwealth countries? Well, first of all, it's such a pleasure
to be here and really celebrate each other and I think by having the
opportunity to travel, which is a gift, you suddenly see the beauty in
our differences, but we are alike as well. It is a wonderful thing to do.
There is such a focus on the Commonwealth on gender parity as
well and it's now more than two decades since the Spice Girls came
to the mainstream and really brought feminism back into popularity. Does
it surprise you that the fight for women's rights is so central at the
moment, on centre stage geopolitically? If we look back to
the suffragettes they had to really speak up and it is one of those
things you have to keep reminding. Of course, we want to live in a
society where everybody is equal, whatever gender you are, whatever
colour you are, whatever sex you are and that's a beautiful place to live
and I think, you know, it's about education really, isn't it?
Sometimes we need reminding and educating and I think that comes
with kindness and just encouragement, some people just need
catching up, that's the way it is. There are more than 600 kids in the
congregation today. What would your message be to them? If any young
kids are watching now, you have the power to change the world. It starts
with you, your imagination and wonder and you have the power to do
it, just through reading and positivity. It can happen. I think
so. Geri Horner and Bluebell thank you. Thank you, it's lovely to be
here. Sonali, thank you. We are looking now at the 52 flags from the
52 nations of the Commonwealth as they process through the Abbey,
accompanied by music from the Commonwealth Resounds. The flags are
carried in the order that the countries joined the Commonwealth,
so the two you see at the back, Mozambique Andhra Wanda, the most
recent countries -- Rwanda. They have no historical connection to the
British Empire, interestingly. Dr Sue Onslow, that's fascinating. How
is it that they come to be in the Commonwealth? It may seem strange
but there is a logic. The Commonwealth supported Mozambique
after its independence, it was a frontline state in the struggle
against apartheid South Africa and it was thanks to Nelson Mandela that
Mozambique came to join in the 1990s. Rwanda was encouraged by
Uganda to join to support the progress Rwanda made since the
catastrophe of the genocide in 1994. And how unusual is that for
countries to join? Is it the case that there are countries leaving as
well? Yes, but it's not a revolving door. The Commonwealth does have
standards to which member countries are held. Those who transgress are
monitored by a Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group. And
countries like Fiji and Pakistan have left and then joined again. The
Gambia is going to be encouraged to join again. And we can see before us
the procession of the faith leaders. Faith Leaders Procession
largest annual inter-faith Leading the Zoroastrian Community
is Malcolm M Deboo. Representing the Baha'i Community
is Patrick O'Mara. Representing Orthodox Judaism
is Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis Representing the Jain Community
is Dr Natubhai Shah. Representing the Sunni Islam
Community is Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra. Representing Liberal Judaism
is Rabbi Rebeccas Birk Representing the Buddhist Community
is the Venerable Bogoda Seelawimala. Representing the Jewish
Reform Synagogues is Representing the Shia Muslim
Community is Moulana Razawi. Representing the Hindu
Community is Trupti Patel. Representing the Sikh Community
is Lord Singh of Wimbledon CBE. Then general comment
on representatives of We heard earlier from Baroness
Scotland. She's a truss tie of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee
Trust. It was established in 2012 to support those in need across the
Commonwealth. Once of its principal aims is to eliminate avoidable
blindness. We spoke to the Countess of Wessex to hear about the impact
this has had across the Commonwealth.
80% of the world's blind populations are living in Commonwealth
countries. The work of the Trust is profound. The goal is to eliminate
avoidable blindness. The dracoma initiative in Malawi has been having
unbelievable success rates. Dracoma is a bacteria which gets into the
eye, it's a horrible condition. It affects people of all ages. You
normally find it in rural areas. When it's not treated, the eye lid
is infected, which in the process turns the eye inside and the eye
lashes start to touch the eye ball leading to blindness. Maria's lived
with this condition for ten years which is quite a long time of pain,
a long time of not being able to provide for her household. She can't
even go and fetch water. The good thing is that she'll be able to get
surgery. Maria has been using a razor blade to cut the eye lashes
that have been disturbing her eyes. There were moments when she said,
I'd rather die than live with this pain. The surgery that can be
performed is very simple because they cut the eye lid and turn the
eye lid back out again so that it cannot turn inwards. It's very
effective, very low-cost treatment. There have been more surgeons
trained into how to do the basic surgery. Many millions have received
antibiotics and there's been a huge awareness campaign. My fellow
students, ladies and gentlemen, we...
By teaching the young ones how to prevent Trachoma, this is one of the
better ways of preventing it. We have been working with a number of
people guided by the Minister of Health. We are on the brink of
eliminating Trachoma which is a major milestone for the country. I'm
thrilled to be able to be travelling to Malawi very soon to be able to
see first hand the work that thief been carrying out and I'm looking
forward to saying thank you to the people that have been involved with
it because they worked extremely hard.
And Maria's surgery went well, the sutures are looking good and they
expect her to make a full recovery. She's very happy and relieved to no
longer be in pain. The Earl of Wessex, Prince Andrew
and Prince Harry all coming in and shaking hands with people in the
receiving line. All of them are active participants in the life of
the Commonwealth. Prince Harry, of course, visited seven Commonwealth
countries of the Caribbean in November last year, representing the
Queen, his grandmother. The Duke of York, Prince Andrew, who you can
see, a little behind him, behind the Dean of Westminster. He's the grand
President of the Royal Commonwealth ex-services league and the Earl of
Wessex, Prince Edward, behind him, is the vice patron of the
Commonwealth Games federation. Of course, his wife, the Countess of
Wessex is not here because she's on her way to Malawi as patron of the
Avoidable Blindness Association. Prince Harry there shaking hands
with the Prime Minister of Malta, Joseph Muscat. He is the chair in
office, with Malta having hosted the Commonwealth heads of Government
meeting in Malta. Lord Howell of Guildford and
Achaleke Christian Lek. Going back to Prince Harry's tour
last year of the Caribbean, he went to several countries, including
Antigua and Barbuda, St Lucia and Barbados. He unveiled four
dedications to the Queen's Commonwealth canopy, which is a
global forestry project to preserve forest land for future generations.
He visited social projects like the nature fun ranch which allows people
to speak freely about important topics, including HIV AIDS. In
Barbados, he took an HIV test with the international star Rihanna,
encouraging others to get themselves tested.
Sue Onslow, watching these younger members of the Royal Family here
today, it shows how important the Commonwealth is to them? It does
indeed. The Queen has imBewled her love and devotion to the
Commonwealth among the younger mens of her family. -- members of her
family. She regards the Commonwealth as her life's work, she's exited
herself to it since 1952 and she really has been the invisible blue.
It's her version of identity politics which is inclusive rather
than exclusive. She takes it seriously and has passed this on.
Here is the Prince of Wales, accompanied by the Duchess of
Cornwall. The Prince of Wales has been a proud
supporter. The Duchess has accompanied him on every trip.
Sue, as we await the imminent arrival of the Queen, let's take a
moment to talk about the importance of her role as head of the
Commonwealth. The Queen has given the Commonwealth visibility, wisdom,
practical advice and support to help it smooth through the inevitable
rifts and political fights that have gone on within the family, such as
over apartheid South Africa, and she's conI believe the yewed
enormously to -- contributed to its cohesion and modernity. She's been a
unique, much-loved head. It's worth mentioning that, although the role
passed to Her Majesty the Queen from her father, the role of head of the
Commonwealth, it's not a role that will necessarily pass to Charles
when he becomes King? You are right, it's not a given that
Prince Charles will automatically take over as head of the
Commonwealth, although much of his life's work chimes in very much with
the modern Commonwealth's values and areas of activities. His work as
part of the Prince's Trust, his work on the environment and climate
change, all of these chime in with the Commonwealth's forward-looking
approach to the aspects of this which touch so many people's lives.
There's Prince Charles speaking to the wife of Joseph Muscat, the Prime
Minister of Malta. And it's obvious isn't it Sue that
the Royal Family have a real affection for the Commonwealth? They
do. It's added great pleasure, great interest, the opportunity to travel
and to meet so many different communities and nations across the
globe. It's really helped to balance the constraints of being
constitutional-month-old -- constitutional Monarch. We can
see people in the congregation as we await the arrival of the Queen.
There is the Prime Minister, Theresa May. She will host the next
Commonwealth heads of Government meeting or CHOGM as it's known next
year in the UK. She'll take over as chair in office in the Commonwealth.
Another famous face in the audience, that of the singer Annie Lennox who
addressed the congregation at the service in 2011. She's a spokeswoman
and advocate for HIV related causes. Sir John Major, the former British
Prime Minister who had a key role to play in the Commonwealth under
Margaret Thatcher during the period of apartheid in South Africa during
the late 1980s. And Sue, he is somebody who retains a great
affection for the Commonwealth isn't he? Very much so. John Major was
himself a consensus politician when he took over as British Prime
Minister. There was a collective breathing out among some
Commonwealth heads that Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was no
longer there because she was a divisive and controversial figure.
But Sir John Major's worked towards building Commonwealth activities.
He's of course himself a passionate follower of cricket. But he
supported helping debt forgiveness which was of serious practical value
to Commonwealth countries. We can see others. And now we see
the arrival of the car with Her Majesty the Queen. She is
accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh arriving in the sanctuary of
Westminster Abbey. The Queen is being introduced to
members of the clergy here at Westminster Abbey. The Dean of
Westminster Abbey, John Hall is at her side.
Dr Sue Onslow it is a fact, isn't it, that the life of the
Commonwealth almost exactly mirrors that of the reign of Queen
Elizabeth, so maybe it is no great surprise that it means so much to
her? The modern Commonwealth came into existence in 1949, but the
Queen had already made her vow to dedicate her life to it in 1947, but
yes, the Commonwealth has changed and grown with Her Majesty the
Queen. She, of course, is separate in her ceremonial role as Head of
the Commonwealth. # Meet for him whose
love espoused thee # All thy streets
and all thy bulwarks # Bright thy gates
of pearl are shining # Who for Christ's dear
Name in this world On behalf of the Dean and Chapter I
warmly welcome you to Westminster Abbey for our annual celebration of
the Commonwealth in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen whose role as
Head of the Commonwealth binds us together in peace. We celebrate this
year, the Commonwealth as a builder of peace. As we give thanks for the
diversity of faiths, of resources and circumstances in our countries,
we must pray that we maybe united in peace and friendship and together
promote peace in our divided world. So let us pray in the words of Jesus
for the coming of God's Kingdom of justice, and peace.
ALL: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name,
thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever.
And now an a capella performance from Canadian Soprano
# I looked over Jordan, what do I see
# We shall overcome. # We shall overcome.
# Deep in my heart I do believe we shall overcome one day. . .
# If you get there before I do, coming for to carry me home.
# Tell all my friends I'm coming home too.
# Come for to carry me home. # We'll walk hand-in-hand.
We'll walk hand-in-hand. # We'll walk hand-in-hand one day.
# One day in my heart I do believe we'll walk hand-in-hand one day.
And now a reflection from an extraordinary
young peace advocate, Achaleke Christian Leke.
This reading is personal to me. I've been a victim of radicalisation.
Growing up in a community, in the Republic of Cameroon, which was
plagued by real violence, insecurity. I told myself that my
future would never be shared by these atrocities. My journey for
peace began in Cameroon, a youth-led civil society organisation there.
Since then I've become an ambassador of change, a peace hero that's
determined to risk his life for peace if that is what it takes. I
believe that peace is not the absence of war, but something that
we need in our hearts. Diversity is in the DNA of the Commonwealth.
Peace runs in its veins. Despite our religion, cultural, age, colour,
class or gender - there are many of us risking our lives to bring about
peace and make a change. Looking back to Gandhi, Mandela and Bob
Marley, we remain inspired by those people and stand strong against any
form of violence. It takes each of us and the tools we have at our
disposal, using our voice, sports, arts, story-telling and music. We
can promote peace. Investing in young people and ensuring the role
of our youth is just as important. To achieve peace, we must educate
our peers to understand that, despite our race, religion or
culture, we are equal. Be you a man or woman, young or old, poor or
rich, we are all equal. We are one people. Together, let us stand for
love, tolerance, justice and peace. Today, I am using my experience to
provide innovative solutions to violence, using my transformation to
connect and transform young people. My team and I work with young people
on the streets, correction centres, prisons, schools and communities,
building their skills and asking them to open their eyes against
violence and calling upon our Government to provide solutions.
Using violence to fight violence as a means of peace-building is not the
best practice. I am glad to see the civil part to peace gaining grounds.
Across the Commonwealth, we have evidence of young people, many
unpraised and unheard of, working daily and tirelessly to promote
peace. Today, I see a new generation of young change-makers, united on
the one front. We preach Gandhi's philosophy. He said, nonviolence is
the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It's mightier than the
mitiest weapon of destruction, devised by the ingenuity of man.
Young people cannot do this alone. We must partner with our Governments
to uphold human rights, democracy and good governance. I stand here to
call on our Governments to support and take new partnerships seriously,
Fortis the only solution to end the cycle of violence. I am excited by
the presence of young people here today. -- for It is. Young people
who have their futures before them. I have this message for you - I have
seen the violence even in the UK and I have tasted the honey of peace. I
am convinced peace is the only way to achieve sustainable development.
Peace is possible. I have made peace my personal business. Will you?
Together, we can make a difference. Join me on this juernny of change --
journey of change. The path may be difficult and dangerous, but
together we'll make the world a better and more peaceful place.
Thank you very much. APPLAUSE.
The Choir will now sing O Hearken, a piece composed by Roxanna Panufnik
whose son is singing in the choir today.
ANTHEM: O Hearken composed by Roxanna Panufnik.
The Maltese poet Immanuel Mifsud will now
read his own poem entitled 'The Book.'
Tomorrow open the old book your mother gave you.
Mind, open it carefully; from between pages a dawn
will emerge, unlike any you've ever seen.
Once the sun's risen, get up, walk about that
You'll find between pages hills to climb, rivers to forge.
And gather a fistful of red, red soil.
Halfway through the book you'll meet the sea.
There is land still; look, there on the page you'll be turning
And I will be there on the edge of the rocks, waiting with bread
and water; waiting to welcome you, embrace, hold your hand.
We shall walk; tell each other stories, stories collected
The next page on, when we get to my home, we spread out that
precious red fistful of soil; place within it a seed, gently water it.
Turn the page: we look at the moon and wait.
And just as we are closing the book, a tree springs to life,
firm and verdant from the seed, from the soil, flourishing
between pages, pages of the old book that our mother gave us.
Kurt Fearnley will now read verses 4-9 of the Philippians.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.
Let your gentleness be known to everyone.
Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer
and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable,
whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing,
whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence
and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received
and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace
We'll hear now from Courtenay Cleary of Australia who'll play Bach.
Prime Minister Muscat, Chair-in-Office of the Commonwealth,
will now give his reflection, read by the The Honourable Dr Joseph
Muscat, Prime Minister of Malta at theGreat Pulpit.
It is imperative that we remember that peace and reconciliation are
objectively possible. They can be achieved. Of course, they must not
be understood as goals that can be achieved once and for all.
Everywhere and at the same time. The long way to peace and reconciliation
is tortuous and difficult and is never over. The world today is
characterised by a number of fault lines between and within States.
Tensions along some of these fault lines have reached critical levels.
Instability has become the norm and uncertainty is the rule of the game.
More over, two factors are contributing to making this a very
dangerous world indeed. On one hand, terrorism embedded in religious
belief. On the other hand, the emergence of an intolerant populism
that feeds on the lack of knowledge and on racism. Both of them shun
reason, promote fanaticism and actively commit or indirectly
inincite violence. Both of these are models that have patently failed
inasmuch as they are insufficiently inconclusive and inclusive. Both of
them subscribe to a vision of history as an inevitable clash of at
least two incompatible civilisations. Both of them feed on
fear, of hate, of diversity. What can and what should the Commonwealth
realistically do in these difficult circumstances? One answer lies in
the uniqueness of the enduring bond that brought us here today.
Uniqueness that is not easy to explain. Although we can boast the
combined population of 2.4 billion. Although we represent 52 nation
States, our real stint lies elsewhere. It lies in the intensity
of our relationship throughout our modern history. A relationship that
has been by no means - indeed, the history of this relationship has
known joy, pride and communion. But also blood, sweat and tears.
Whilst we have all emerged with the keener sense of our historical
national identities, and the greater respect of each other's national
identity, we have also grown more wary of cynical attempts to appeal
to history to justify aggressive. It is an attempt to troll through the
past for moral justification. It is a case when the past is but the
sinners of the present. This relationship has taught us that
beyond the national interests and in spite of the pain and sometimes
bitterness that some experienced, there is a value in our peace and
reconciliation. Has it gone all the way? No, it has not. . It will only
have gone all the way when in each of our countries the value of the
individual dignity regardless of nationality ethnicity, social class
and opinion will truly be upheld and guaranteed. I want to single out the
respect for LGBT persons. The lack of it. The remarkable number of our
countries is arguably a considerable blot. I have had conversations and I
am aware there are leaders who know that things must change, but are
wary of how society would react to their first move. To them, I said
and I say, that the Commonwealth will be with them to help them make
the first bold steps. History, I am sure, will judge them positively
when they do so. A powerful contribution to peace and
reconciliation begins from the microdimension of the world. Global
and international relations are of course important and so are burning
national political issues, but the individuals immediate social
habitat, the home, is fundamental. There is a view delusional in my
opinion, amongst many throughout the world to imagine that social
progress is essentially a top down process in which politician and
technocrats engineer microchange and the positive outcome for this change
at the top simply percolates down by some sort of social force of
gravity. This is the sort of view that generates social exclusion. It
is the sort of view that justifies perception of the world, that are
effectively captured by well-known verses. Things fall apart. The
centre cannot hold. It is significant that the great
Commonwealth author chose to borrow a phrase from these verses as a
title for his classic 1958 novel Things Fall Apart. There can be no
solid and lasting international and national peace and reconciliation
unless it is built on the consciousness of millions of
individuals who value their own individual dignity, whose homes
enjoy the domestic peace based on equality and mutual respect of
genders and is free of domestic violence where women and children
are most of the time the main victims. Individuals who do not
value their own individual dignity, do not value the dignity of others.
Those who do not uphold these values tend to fuse into multitudes that
make up the base of extremist movements. These short reflections
would be incomplete without observing that in the treasure
throve of the wealth of our common experience together we also find
such noble qualities, a strength in the face of adversity and indeed,
great generosity. Certainly, the enthusism with which our mother
lands came together to resist the barbaric threat to civilisation
during the Second World War is a magnificent example of the ultimate
generosity and solidarity. Allow me to seize this opportunity to express
Malta's great pride in people's contribution to this effort. A
contribution we paid for dearly with blood and suffering, as many others
did. There is no scarcity of opportunity today for the world to
concretely show its appreciation of those who strive to survive in the
face of great adversity and to show concrete solidarity with them.
Conflict and economic failure are generating migration flows of
biblical proportions, with untold suffering for thousands. Many of
whom lose their lives in the process. We are in times of trouble.
Hours of darkness may confront us at any time. But lest we misunderstand
the words of wisdom of a song most of us can at least hum, our response
cannot simply be whispered as let it be. Our modders and fathers didn't.
Thank you. -- mothers and fathers didn't. Thank
you. British Ugandan George
the Poet performs a cover SONG: My Love Is Your Love
by George The Poet. # A waste is something
I was never sent to be # The future holds days that
I was never meant to see # What I'm trying to say
is I'll be dead eventually # And memories will be
the only evidence of me # That makes you everyone
else's best attempt to see # Exactly who I was,
that means you're testament to me # You might not have the same
features or complexion as me # But you are by far
the best reflection of me # Funny how we are joking
when everyone else is stuck up # You're behind every ounce
of courage I can pluck up # You know me when I'm "that guy",
love me when I'm bruck up # Help me when I'm racking my brains
trying to get my luck up # I need you, I could never
decide to go and move # And if you feel the same then it's
time to show and prove, cos # Your love is my love
and my love is your love # It would take an
eternity to break us # And the chains of Amos
Yas couldn't hold us # Your love is my love
and my love is your love # It would take an
eternity to break us # And the chains of Amos Yas
couldn't hold us # Whether it's making money
or spitting fire in the booth # My number one goal
is inspiring the youth # Please don't let this
world make you cold # I didn't make it but
I can make it better # How does a legacy last
after they forget us? # Just make sure your love
is the greatest ever # The rain germinates the seed
then the sun comes out # And in turn it
makes the leaves grow # But it's the gardener's job
to terminate the weeds though # Everything will be
fine just breathe slow # You give me the strength
to reject the things # Put me on such a high
it's close to divine # So whenever I'm with
you I find myself smiling # For no particular
reason most of the time # Cos whenever I'm with
you I find myself smiling # For no particular
reason most of the time # You put me on such a high
it's close to divine # Your love is my love
and my love is your love # It would take an
eternity to break us # And the chains of Amos
Yas couldn't hold us # Your love is my love
and my love is your love # It would take an
eternity to break us # Your everyone else's best attempt
to see. # You might not have the same
features or complexion of me. # But you are the best reflection of
me. # Thank you.
And now the congregation will sing Dear Lord and Father of Mankind.
HYMN: "Dear Lord and Father of Mankind".
# In simple trust like theirs who heard
He who devotes himself to this practice of meditation upon peace
sleeps happily, wakes happily, is calm in the senses, calm in the
mind, has a strong faith, is noble in intention. He is reveered by his
fellow beings. If he fails to have enlightenment in the present life,
he's bound for happiness in the future.
God of all creation, we stand in awe before you, impelled
We are children of many traditions-inheritors of shared
In that which we share, let us see the common prayer
of humanity; where we differ, let us wonder at human freedom;
in our unity and our differences, let us know the uniqueness
May our courage match our convictions and our
Om, let us both protect each other together.
May both of us put our energies together.
May our studies be radiantly glorious.
May peace radiate there in the whole sky, as well as in the vast
O Lord, save our world on fire with conflict and strife.
Let the healing kindness of your blessings save us,
Says Nanak, the path of peace lies in living true
Lord most high, we turn to you, beseeching you through your mercy
which encompasses all of creation, your light which revives
all hearts, and your love which provides us hope.
Make firm our unity as we stand together and amend our shortcomings
that we may be steadfast in what is to come.O
he who is tranquil, place in our hearts tranquility,
and in our actions, wisdom.O sustainer of the heavens
and of the earth, strengthen through your grace our common wealth
and clothe us in your virtues that we may be an example
of benevolence to one another, in your name, most glorified.
O almighty God, you have called us to faith and life,
and encourage us with such a great cloud of witnesses.
Grant that we, strengthened by the example of your saints,
may persevere in running the race that is set before us,
until at length we may receive with them the fullness
of your everlasting kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The next Anthem will be familiar to many of us as it was played
at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge,
# We will go into the house of the Lord
# For thither the tribes go up, even the tribes of the Lord
# To give thanks unto the Name of the Lord
# Even the seat of the house of David
# And plenteousness within thy palaces
# And plenteousness within thy palaces
# For my brethren and companions' sakes
Eus now stand to pledge ourselves afresh to uphold and serve the
values and fellowship of the Commonwealth.
We affirm our respect for nature, and that we will be stewards
of the earth by caring for every part of it, and for it as a whole.
We affirm our belief in justice for everyone, and peace
Joining together in kinship and affinity we celebrate
all that we receive and are able to share with one another
as members of the worldwide Commonwealth family,
delivering social progress, advancing democracy,
and building economic resilience with prosperity in
We cherish the spirit of respect and understanding that inspires us
as 'A Peacebuilding Commonwealth' to work for the eradication
of all forms of violence from homes and communities,
and with goodwill and cordiality for the comity of nations.
We stand in solidarity alongside the vulnerable and marginalised,
and all who live in fear of discrimination or oppression,
pledging to uphold their rights to justice and dignity.
ALL: We affirm our belief in the Commonwealth as a force
for good in the world, and pledge ourselves to its service,
And now for the final hymn, Crown Him With Many Crowns.
# Crown him with many crowns, the Lamb upon his throne
# Hark, how the heavenly anthem drowns all music but its own
# Awake, my soul, and sing of him who died for thee
# And hail him as thy matchless King through all eternity #.
# Rich wounds yet visible above in beauty glorified
# No angel in the sky can fully bear that sight
# But downward bends his burning eye at mysteries so bright #.
# Crown him the Lord of peace, whose power a sceptre sways
# From pole to pole, that wars may cease
# And round his pierced feet fair flowers of paradise
# Extend their fragrance ever sweet #.
# Crown him the Lord of years, the Potentate of time,
# Creator of the rolling spheres, ineffably sublime
# Glassed in a sea of light, where everlasting waves
Into God's gracious mercy and protection we commit you.
The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine
The Lord lift up the light of his countenance upon you,
and give you peace; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father,
the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain
And that marks the end of the service.
We are starting to see the young members of the choir and members of
the clergy process towards the exit of the Great West Door. The young
members of the choir attend the Abbey's residential choir school,
although they are involved in many of the Abbey's services, there were
eight boys singing for the Queen in the contest of the Commonwealth
service for the first time today. Sue Onslow, your reflections? That
service was a unique combination. It acknowledged other faiths, the
emphasis on shared spiritual values. For that, we have to thank Her
Majesty the Queen as head of the Commonwealth. It's been held in this
sacred space at Westminster Abbey since 1973 and it's highly unusual
and even more valid today if days of division and conflict. There was
such a variety of faiths of course, but also of performance? I was very
struck by the multiple themes and motives of peace coming through this
service, the unity of the colours of the Commonwealth flags, the flowers,
the flags themselves, Measha Brueggergosman's triumphant singing
of old songs of the oppressed in that vibrant sea of today and
freedom. Joseph Muscat's message that peace-building in all forms
needs commitment and hard work, it's a work in progress. I was watching
particularly the faces of the young people the way that they reacted to
Achaleke Christian Lek and George the Poet. They really did engage
with that fusion of personal experience, as well as poetry and
music. The Queen, we shouldn't forget is
not just of course our Queen, she's also Queen to 15 other Commonwealth
nations. That's important to her and important to them. Yes. We Brits
have to remember that we share our Queen. She's indeed Queen of 16
Commonwealth realms, as well as that separate role that she has add head
of the Modern Commonwealth. In travelling, as she has done across
the modern Commonwealth, since 1952 and the pleasure she's drawn from
meeting so many people, the diversity of experience that she's
been able to enjoy, and I have to say, it's the pleasure of meeting
the Queen that's been very evidently mutual, that part of the Queen's
role is to endorse and encourage the work of those who don't normally get
noticed, and she does it with great skill, great charisma and great
grace. She has visited 50 of the 52
Commonwealth countries, and Prince Philip has accompanied the Queen on
tours and state visits. The first of her visits was the Coronation tour
of the Commonwealth from November 1953 to May 1954. The couple
visited, amongst other countries, Bermuda, Jamaica, Panama, Fiji,
Uganda, Libya, Malta and Gibraltar. And Sue, the Queen does view her
role as Head of the Commonwealth, as being very distinct from her role as
Monarch of the UK? She does indeed. It is a separate originally symbolic
but now ceremonial role that she brings to it. She now opens the
Commonwealth heads of Government meeting. We saw the Mace in the
service which is there when the Queen performs ceremonial roles. The
Queen also holds audiences during Commonwealth heads of Government
meeting where she individually meets leaders. She has a private lunch for
new leaders and they value very much their chance to talk to her. And
there we see the Queen greeting performers whose performances she
clearly so enjoyed. Kohli Simpson there, the Australian singer, and
therefore that, Achaleke Christian Lek who we heard from earlier --
Cody Simpson. What an amazing young man Achaleke Christian Lek is.
And here we see the Queen with the Maltese writer, Immanuel misif you
had born in a post-independent Malta. He's given voice to the
country's growing identity. There speaking to Kurt Fearnley who we
heard giving a reading earlier. Kurt won Commonwealth silver in 2014 and
Commonwealth gold in 2010. There shaking hands with Courtenay Cleary,
the violinist. And with George the Poet. The British Ugandan singer,
poet. He gave a captive ating performance of Your Love can
Subpoena my Love -- captive ating. Sue, there is been a great emphasis
on young people and youth in today's service, but we should remember that
the Commonwealth charter includes a statement about a commitment to
gender equality. What does the Commonwealth do for women? It does a
range of activities, raising awareness, providing training and
support to promote political leadership, economic realm,
education access for girls, also working against violence in the
family, child marriage, forced marriage and FGM.
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will be returning now to Buckingham
Palace while Prince Harry, the Duke of York and Earl of Wessex will be
making their way to a post-service reception while Prince Charles will
later travel to the Commonwealth secretariat for the
Secretary-General's reception. So further events going on on this
Commonwealth Day. And the Queen there having a word
with James O'Donnell who directed the choir today. She's just moved on
from him and speaking of course to some of the young choristers to whom
they must have given her such pleasure today.
So, we come to the end of this year's Commonwealth service which
has been, as it is every year, an event like no other in the
Westminster Abbey calendar, an eclectic mix of traditions, beliefs
and cultures. It's a bond that will be on display again next year at the
Commonwealth heads of Government meeting. But for the time being,
from all of us, it's goodbye.
Reeta Chakrabarti introduces live coverage from Westminster Abbey in London as HM the Queen is joined by other members of the royal family to lead a service of celebration for Commonwealth Day. The service features readings and live music, as well as highlights from the launch of the Commonwealth Games baton relay.