India, the United Kingdom and 51 other countries around the world have come together to mark Commonwealth Day 2018.
Events, religious services, activities and seminars have been organised in member countries to promote the shared values and principles of peace, democracy and equality. ‘Towards a Common Future’ is the overarching theme for 2018.
In London, members of the Royal Family joined Her Majesty The Queen this afternoon for a special service at Westminster Abbey.
The event featured a procession of Commonwealth flags, with young flag bearers representing each of the 53 nations.
In her Commonwealth Day message, the Queen referenced the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, due to take place in London next month. She highlighted the important role the Commonwealth plays in bringing people together to create a future that is “fairer, more secure, more prosperous, and sustainable”.
She added: “We all have reason to give thanks for the numerous ways in which our lives are enriched when we learn from others. Through exchanging ideas, and seeing life from other perspectives, we grow in understanding and work more collaboratively towards a common future.
“There is a very special value in the insights we gain through the Commonwealth connection; shared inheritances help us overcome difference so that diversity is a cause for celebration rather than division.”
The Commonwealth’s secretary-general, Patricia Scotland, used her statement to highlight the importance of working together.
She said: “With our fellow citizens, we live, learn, work and play in countries set in every continent and ocean – all 2.4 billion of us, representing a glorious spectrum of diversity and talent. It is by living and working for the good of one another, towards a common future, that we build our Commonwealth.”
Leaders from member countries will gather for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London on April 16. The Queen is set to host a dinner at Buckingham Palace, as well as a Leaders’ Retreat day at Windsor Castle, when attendees will meet to set the course for future Commonwealth co-operation.
India’s prime minister Narendra Modi will travel to Britain for the summit. He is also expected to hold talks with UK prime minister Theresa May, with visa concerns likely to be one issue that comes up for discussion.