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Commonwealth Day Abbey service broadcast to millions around globe

11 March 2019

The Queen was joined by around 2,000 people from across the world in a Westminster Abbey service to mark Commonwealth Day.

The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and The Duke and Duchess of Sussex also attended the largest annual inter-faith gathering in the United Kingdom to celebrate the history and values binding the 53 Commonwealth countries.

This year’s theme centred around ‘A Connected Commonwealth’, highlighting how friendship, goodwill and collaboration between the Commonwealth’s culturally diverse 2.4bn people can be harnessed to tackle some of the planet’s biggest challenges - such as protecting natural resources and the environment.

The service included special performances by the Grammy-winning British group, Clean Bandit, and acclaimed tenor, Alfie Boe.

Endurance swimmer and UN Oceans Patron Lewis Pugh, also spoke to the congregation about how he’s witnessed oceans “change completely” during his 32 years of swimming.

He highlighted how the Commonwealth is home to some of the most incredible wildlife on earth, including the polar bear, the Great Barrier Reef and the African Penguin.

He finished by calling for a new generation of Marine Protected Areas and a new generation of marine protectors, and added: “We stand at a crucial moment in the history of our planet.

“We must dive in together and without reservation in order to protect our oceans - let this be the Commonwealth’s gift to the world.”

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland delivered the Commonwealth Affirmation and ended with the words: “We affirm our belief in the Commonwealth as a force for good in the world, and pledge ourselves to its service, now and for the future.”

Other performances included William Barton, an internationally celebrated didgeridoo artist who featured at the 2018 Invictus Games, and The Dhol Foundation, who performed at the 2012 London Olympics Closing Ceremony.

Guests of honour included high commissioners, ambassadors, diplomatic representatives, senior politicians, dignitaries, faith leaders from across the Commonwealth and more than 800 school children and young people.

The Commonwealth Service was broadcast live on BBC One and was relayed live on the BBC World Service.

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