Commonwealth Day Celebrations: a busy day for the Queen

The Queen has had a busy Commonwealth Day today, starting the Commonwealth Games baton relay at Buckingham Palace, hosting a reception for Commonwealth High Commissioners based in London, and attending a service at Westminster Abbey.

The Queen started the countdown to the 2018 Commonwealth Games, launching the baton relay at Buckingham Palace. (MoD)

Shortly after 11.00am, Her Majesty arrived at Buckingham Palace after spending her weekend at Windsor.

In the forecourt of the Palace, the Monarch was joined by Prince Philip and The Earl of Wessex to begin the countdown to the next Commonwealth Games.

Louise Martin, CBE, President of the Commonwealth Games Federation presents the Baton to Her Majesty. (Sgt Rupert Frere RLC / MoD Crown)

The Queen placed a note inside a capsule in the handle of the Commonwealth Games baton, requesting that athletes compete in a friendly manner. The baton had been raced up the Mall by various athletes, including cyclist-turned-jockey Victoria Pendleton, before it was handed over to Her Majesty.

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She then handed the baton to two-time Olympic champion cyclist Anna Meares, where it began its journey to Australia, where the next games will be held. The relay will span 388 days, 71 countries and more than 200,000 miles before reaching the Gold Coast.

At 3.15pm, The Queen, alongside The Duke of Edinburgh, arrived at Westminster Abbey in time for the multi-faith service to begin. There was a congregation of 2,000, including 1,000 school children. She wore her Australian Wattle brooch, a gift from the people of the antipodean nation.

Members of the Royal family joined the Sovereign – who had changed from a magenta outfit into lemon – including Prince Charles, Camilla, Prince Harry and Prince Andrew. The Prime Minister of Malta was also in attendance.

This year’s theme which focuses on ‘An Inclusive Commonwealth,’ emphasising the Commonwealth’s strength in working together to achieve progress.’

Various performances and readings were given, including George the Poet’s rendition of ‘Your love is my love’, Canadian Measha Brueggergosman singing ‘Swing low, sweet chariot’, and Australian paralympian

After the service of commemoration, Her Majesty and Prince Philip attended a reception at the Commonwealth Secretariat on the invitation of Commonwealth Secretary-General Baroness Patricia Scotland.

Yesterday, The Queen’s address spoke to the Commonwealth about respect and peace:

“This Commonwealth Day, a baton will set out from Buckingham Palace and begin a long and extraordinary journey. Over the next twelve months, the Baton will visit people living in the nations and territories of our Commonwealth family in every continent and ocean.

Carried on its way by thousands of people of all ages and backgrounds, by the time it reaches its final destination, The Queen’s Baton will have brought together through its route and symbolism, almost 2.5 billion people who share the special connection of being Commonwealth citizens.

Contained within the Baton will be a written message that will be opened and read at the Commonwealth Games in Australia next year. However, there is an even more powerful message to be seen and experienced as the Baton passes from hand to hand, from seashore to mountaintop, through cities, towns, and villages. It is the message of a peace-building Commonwealth.

The cornerstones on which peace is founded are, quite simply, respect and understanding for one another.

By upholding justice and the rule of law, and by striving for societies that are fair and offer opportunities for all, we overcome division and find reconciliation, so that the benefits of progress and prosperity may be multiplied and shared.

As members of the Commonwealth family we can find much to be thankful for in the inheritances we have received from those who came before us. Through consensus and cooperation great things have been achieved.

We can find further reward and fulfilment by continuing to collaborate with others in a spirit of goodwill to build a peaceful and abundant future for all Commonwealth citizens.”

At this important time for Britain and her position in the world, the importance of the Commonwealth of Nations is showing no signs of letting up. As head of the Commonwealth, The Queen pays a lot of attention to the work of the organisation and its member states, and Her Majesty herself is showing few signs of slowing down.

Happy Commonwealth Day!

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