Commonwealth Day was celebrated on 13 March bringing closer together 56 nations across five regions.
The event was marked in London with a wreath-laying ceremony and a service at Westminster Abbey, followed by a reception at Buckingham Palace.
The congregation of about 2,000 people included the Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Prime Minister of Samoa, foreign ministers and dignitaries from the UK and the Commonwealth, as well as faith leaders, youth advocates, athletes, and over 750 school children.
This year’s Commonwealth Day theme, “Forging a sustainable and peaceful common future,” emphasised the need for the Commonwealth to work together to achieve common goals such as peace, democracy, human rights, and sustainable development.
His Majesty King Charles III spoke about the association’s “extraordinary potential” and its responsibility to create a sustainable future in harmony with nature.
He highlighted climate change, biodiversity loss, youth opportunity and education, global health, and economic cooperation as crucial areas where member states could play a significant role.
The Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, praised the Commonwealth’s ability to build consensus through deliberation on matters of importance to its members and advocate for the inclusion of small and vulnerable states on the world stage.
The President of the Maldives, Ibrahim Solih, conveyed best wishes from the Maldivian people to HM King Charles III and the Commonwealth Secretariat, while the President of Zambia, Hakainde Hichilema, celebrated the rich, diverse cultures of the Commonwealth and its purpose to create a prosperous, peaceful, common future.
In addition to the events in London, the Commonwealth flag for peace was raised in prominent ceremonies across member states in recognition of the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Commonwealth Charter.
The Charter, first signed in 2013 by the late Queen Elizabeth II, enshrines the shared values of the organisation such as peace, democracy, human rights, rule of law, and care for the environment.
The day’s celebrations concluded with King Charles III signing the Charter as the new Head of the Commonwealth before an audience of foreign ministers, high commissioners, and commonwealth representatives at Buckingham Palace.
The week’s events continued with a special edition of the Marlborough House Dialogues, featuring the Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa of Samoa, the incoming Commonwealth Chair-In-Office, as well as meetings of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group and Commonwealth Foreign Affairs Ministers.
To promote 2023 as the Commonwealth Year of Peace, Secretary-General Patricia Scotland raised the Commonwealth Flag for Peace at a ceremony in London on the day.
Young people across the family of nations were given peace flags to observe and contribute towards Commonwealth Day and represent the 1.5 billion under-30s living in the 56 countries.