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13 mars 2012 2 13 /03 /mars /2012 13:03

 

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The British Royal Family today marked Commonwealth Day, which is held each year on the second Monday of March to celebrate the British Commonwealth.

Queen Elizabeth II led the celebration at the multi-faith service held at Westminster Abbey. She was joined by the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Countess of Wessex and the Duke of Gloucester. The royal family all appeared to be in high spirits, with smiles and laughs a plenty upon arrival and throughout.

Performances at the service were given by a Canadian and a South African, in the spirit of Commonwealth inclusion and this year’s theme – Connecting Cultures.

View the full gallery at Zimbio

The Queen and the Duchess of Cornwall both chose bright shades for their ensembles – fuschia and purple, respectively. Their outfits were completed by matching hats from Angela Kelly, the Queen’s personal couturier, and Philip Treacy. The Countess of Wessex went the opposite route and wore a silk coat in taupe over  a black dress. Her hat was the most flamboyant of the three – featuring both a sky-high vertical brim and a headpiece of feathers.

Earlier in the day, the Queen’s annual Commonwealth Day address was released by Buckingham Palace.

In the speech, Queen Elizabeth spoke of the way today’s technology allows members of the Commonwealth to connect with each other – “to see, hear and enter into the experience of people in communities and circumstances far removed from our own.” She also encouraged the members of the Commonwealth to “share and strengthen” the citizenship of the Commonwealth.

Commonwealth Day began as Empire Day in 1898, implemented in Canadian schools. It moved to the United Kingdom in 1904, with local fireworks and bonfires. It became Commonwealth Day in 1958 to signify the new era following post-colonial times.

 

Message from HM Queen Elizabeth II

Day, 12 March

HRH Queen Elizabeth

One of the great benefits of today’s technology-based world is the range of opportunities it offers to understand and appreciate how others live: we can see, hear and enter into the experience of people in communities and circumstances far removed from our own.

A remarkable insight we gain from such windows on the world is that, however different outward appearances may be, we share a great deal in common.

Our circumstances and surroundings may vary enormously, for example in the food we eat and the clothes we wear, but we share one humanity, and this draws us all together. The joys of celebration and sympathy of sadness may be expressed differently but they are felt in the same way the world over.

How we express our identities reveals both a rich diversity and many common threads. Through the creative genius of artists – whether they be writers, actors, film-makers, dancers or musicians – we can see both the range of our cultures and the elements of our shared humanity.

“Connecting Cultures”, our Commonwealth theme this year, encourages us to consider the special opportunities we have, as members of this unique gathering of nations, to celebrate an extraordinary cultural tapestry that reflects our many individual and collective identities. The Commonwealth treasures and respects this wealth of diversity.

Connecting cultures is more, however, than observing others and the ways in which they express themselves. This year, our Commonwealth focus seeks to explore how we can share and strengthen the bond of Commonwealth citizenship we already enjoy by using our cultural connections to help bring us even closer together, as family and friends across the globe.

To support this theme, a special song has been composed for the Commonwealth, ‘Stronger as One’. There are any number of ways in which that single piece of music alone can be played or sung anywhere in the Commonwealth. And by sharing the same music with our own personal interpretations and contributions, the wonderful human attribute of imagination is nourished, and we gain insights of understanding and appreciation of others.

The Commonwealth offers a pathway for this greater understanding and the opportunity to expand upon our shared experiences in a wider world. A world in which paths to mutual respect and common cause may also be explored and which can draw us together, stronger and better than before.

ELIZABETH R
12 March 2012

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