The Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS) Ireland Branch had the pleasure of marking this year’s Commonwealth Day at the Commonwealth Service, held at Westminster Abbey in London on 14 March. Representatives from RCS Ireland were honoured to participate in the event, which is the largest multi-faith celebration in Britain and Ireland.
This annual service features a mixture of testimonies, readings, and musical performances. Each year the Service is based around an annual Commonwealth Theme. For 2016, the theme was ‘An Inclusive Commonwealth’, inviting citizens to consider what it means to live in a diverse yet equitable, fair and tolerant international community.
This year’s Commonwealth Day service was attended by the Secretary General of the Commonwealth, His Excellency Kamalesh Sharma; as well as the Head of the Commonwealth, who is the figure head and symbol of the free association of the 53 nations that make up the Commonwealth of Nations, 32 of which are Republics. Other delegates include High Commissioners and dignitaries from around the Commonwealth, as well as senior politicians and 1,000 school children.
The RCS organises the Service on behalf of a group of Commonwealth organisations, known as the Council of Commonwealth Societies. Commonwealth Day has been celebrated across the Commonwealth, every year since the 1970s. The event celebrates the unity, diversity and links of the modern Commonwealth and fosters greater understanding of the Commonwealth’s achievements and role, particularly among young people.
As a former member of the Commonwealth, Ireland retains strong links across this association of independent nations. RCS Ireland works to promote awareness of the enduring bonds between Ireland and the Commonwealth, including trade, culture, sports, arts and history. RCS Ireland is also pleased to note that the Commonwealth Youth Games will be held on the island of Ireland in 2021.