Monday 14th March marks the annual Commonwealth Day celebrations, held at Westminster Abbey and attended by Queen Elizabeth in her role as Head of the Commonwealth. Guests will include senior members of the British royal family, Commonwealth politicians and 1000 school children. In a change from previous years – and perhaps a nod to the increased visibility of the Commonwealth in recent months – this year’s events will be screened live on BBC One. Dr Sue Onslow, Lead Researcher on the Commonwealth Oral History Project will be part of the live BBC One coverage, streaming at www.bbc.co.uk from 14.45 – 16.15hrs GMT, on the radio at BBC World Service and available to watch later at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0745hs1
Stuart Mole, Chair of the Commonwealth Round Table and an informant for the oral history project, wrote about the origins of Commonwealth Day. The transition from Empire Day in 1898 to the modern self-consciously multi-cultural event, this year themed ‘An Inclusive Commonwealth‘, is a reflection of the history of the Commonwealth itself. The keynote address will be delivered by Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary General. Speeches will also be made by Prime Minister of Malta Joseph Muscat who is the current Chair-in-Office of the Commonwealth, and by the outgoing Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma. Music will be performed by British singer Ellie Goulding.
For an extensive reading list concerning the Commonwealth and its member states, see the Bibliography included on this website.
For resources targeted at young people, see http://thecommonwealth.org/inclusivecommonwealth