United Kingdom (Commonwealth Union)_ Commonwealth Day has been observed annually since 1977 on the second Monday of March. In the past few years, there has been a change from a single-day celebration to a week-long celebration, with Commonwealth Day serving as its centerpiece. In commemoration of this year’s Commonwealth Day, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Rt. Hon. Patricia Scotland KC, hoisted the Commonwealth Flag for Peace during the ceremony in London. In an attempt to promote 2023 as the Commonwealth Year of Peace throughout the family of nations, the Secretary-General together with the Commonwealth leaders, Ministers, and youth representatives, hoisted the specially-designed flag. This year is also labeled as the Year of Youth, as designated by the Heads of Government of the Commonwealth.
While delivering her Commonwealth Day Message, Secretary-General the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC paid homage to Her Majesty The Queen for her successful seventy years of service and greeted His Majesty The King on his first Commonwealth Day as the new Head of the Commonwealth. The Secretary-General stated the following while addressing the event held at Marlborough House in London, the headquarters of the Commonwealth Secretariat. She stated, “We join every city across the United Kingdom, and young people in capitals across the Commonwealth, in proudly raising this Flag for Peace towards the heavens. As we celebrate the tenth anniversary of our Charter, in this Commonwealth Year of Youth and Peace, we raise the Peace Flag as a fitting emblem to our commitment to each other, and to the world”. She added, “Peace is precious. It is not guaranteed. It takes work, patience, and courage. And in the task of building and protecting peace everywhere, for everyone, our Commonwealth values are our guide. Thank you all for sharing in this moment, and for renewing our shared commitment to our values and to each other.”
At the ceremony, the theme was portrayed through musical performances, testimonials, and readings by officials from different Commonwealth nations, including the “Amalgamation Choir” from Cyprus, which is an all-female choir. Additionally, parliamentarians, mayors, and high commissioners across Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, the Americas, the Pacific, and Europe also commemorated the day with a variety of events, including speeches and cultural ceremonies. In an attempt to encourage the youth to observe and contribute towards Commonwealth Day, Peace Flags were distributed to young people throughout Commonwealth nations so that they may represent the 1.5 billion individuals below the age of 30 living in the 56 nations. They assisted in raising the flags, reaffirming the Commonwealth’s commitment to the Commonwealth Charter, which marks its tenth anniversary this year, and to prioritize and include youth in the creation of a peaceful and sustainable future. As a homage to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the Commonwealth Flag for Peace mission was promoted by the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, the Royal Commonwealth Society, and Bruno Peek, pageant master. This is the first Commonwealth Day following her demise.
At the bottom right corner of the Commonwealth flag is a white dove of peace, which represents the common values and ideals of the Commonwealth, such as cooperation on economic and social growth, diversity, respect, friendship, and the promotion of global peace. Additionally, students may learn more about the current Commonwealth and its varied membership with a quiz created by the Commonwealth Secretariat. Schools around the Commonwealth are free to download and utilize the quiz. Further, Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honorable Vincent Biruta, delivered a speech as outgoing Chair-in-Office of the Commonwealth. HE Fiam Naomi Mataafa, Prime Minister of Samoa, also delivered a speech as the incoming Commonwealth Chair-in-Office. The next meeting of Commonwealth heads of government will be organized in 2024 in Apia, Samoa.