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Commonwealth Flag bearers at Westminster Abbey - Commonwealth Day 2004.

Commonwealth Day 2016: Celebrating an inclusive Commonwealth

10 March 2016

Fifty-three countries will come together to celebrate Commonwealth Day 2016 on 14 March under the theme ‘An Inclusive Commonwealth’. Among the many activities and events taking place globally, a multi-faith service at Westminster Abbey will welcome thousands of guests from around the world.

Commonwealth Day is held on the second Monday in March every year. It is an opportunity for individuals, communities and organisations to promote shared Commonwealth values of peace, democracy and equality, and to celebrate the association’s rich diversity.

This year’s theme - An Inclusive Commonwealth - recognises an incredibly diverse grouping of countries. With a population of more than two billion, the Commonwealth encompasses the fastest growing countries, the smallest, the least developed and the most populous. The strength of the association is derived from shared historical ties, extensive global networks and a spirit of co-operation to tackle global challenges and improve lives.  

Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma stated in a message for Commonwealth Day: “An Inclusive Commonwealth refers to the values of tolerance, respect and understanding, as well as equity and fairness, set out in the Commonwealth Charter, and the richness of the Commonwealth as a family of nations in which each member country is valued equally and has an equal voice.”

Malta’s Prime Minister and Commonwealth Chair-In-Office, Joseph Muscat, said: “Global value cannot be achieved without putting inclusiveness in the driving seat. Only then can we pursue our goal of making the Commonwealth more relevant, more alive and more connected for the benefit of all our citizens.”

To mark Commonwealth Day, activities and events will take place across the Commonwealth’s 53 member countries, ranging from themed school assemblies to flag flying ceremonies. The Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey, organised by the Royal Commonwealth Society, will welcome over 2,000 guests.

Those attending the service include the Commonwealth Secretary-General, The Queen, who is Head of the Commonwealth, as well as The Duke of Edinburgh, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry, Malta’s Prime Minster, Joseph Muscat, and Kofi Annan, former United Nations Secretary-General. The service will be relayed live on the BBC and will see performances by singer Ellie Goulding among other entertainers.

The Commonwealth Photography Competition, which will seek and showcase inspiring images that engage with the 2016 theme, will also open for entries on Commonwealth Day. In the same week, the Commonwealth Youth Awards will announce their 2016 winners on 17 March in recognition of the extraordinary efforts made by young people to enhance democracy and development. 

Access and download Commonwealth Day resources

Notes to Editors

Inclusivity sits at the heart of the Commonwealth’s democracy and development work. The Commonwealth stands to promote and protect the rights of all its citizens and champion the interests of member countries regardless of their geographical size or economic stature.

To find out more about the work of the Commonwealth and follow the celebrations on Commonwealth Day visit our newsroom

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Be sure to bookmark this link to follow #CommonwealthDay celebrations on 14 March! #inclusivecommonwealth https://t.co/nyDolEZYyt

— The Commonwealth (@commonwealthsec) March 7, 2016

Are you a keen photographer? Check out the #Commonwealth Photography Comp! https://t.co/G3qpLWdEVK #cwphotocomp16 pic.twitter.com/YSJAdvhxZb

— The Commonwealth (@commonwealthsec) March 8, 2016

Will you be taking part in #FlyaFlag for the #Commonwealth on #CommonwealthDay? Let us know: https://t.co/PI61lihSif pic.twitter.com/2t2UvjPorP

— The Commonwealth (@commonwealthsec) March 5, 2016