The second week of March 2017 was full of activities for the B3CF Executive Team, who travelled to celebrate Commonwealth Day and attend various events during Commonwealth Week in London, UK.
We were invited to the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey, attended by Her Majesty The Queen, the Head of the Commonwealth, TRH The Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Harry, The Duke of York and The Earl of Wessex. The Service was based around the 2017 Commonwealth theme, ‘A Peace-building Commonwealth’, and is the largest multi-faith celebration in the UK. Commonwealth Day 2017 marks 40 years since Commonwealth Day became a global celebration on the same day every year: the second Monday in March.
The Prime Minister of the UK, the Rt Hon Theresa May MP, was in attendance as well as High Commissioners, dignitaries from across the UK and around the Commonwealth, senior politicians, faith leaders and 800 school children and young people.
Service's highlights included Reflections from the Prime Minister of Malta and Chair-in-Office of the Commonwealth, the Hon Dr Joseph Muscat MP, and Cameroonian peace advocate Achaleke Christian Leke, a former victim of radicalisation and violence. The Commonwealth Secretary- General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC, led the Act of Affirmation to the Commonwealth. We also enjoyed performances by Australian musician Cody Simpson, George the Poet, a British spoken-word performer of Ugandan heritage, Maltese poet Dr Immanuel Mifsud and Canadian Soprano Measha Brueggergosman. The event was broadcast live on BBC One and relayed live on BBC World Service.
The B3CF Commonwealth Week programme continued on Tuesday 14th March at the High Commissioners’ Banquet. The Banquet, first held in 1874, aims to celebrate the unity, diversity and linkages of the modern Commonwealth and is an integral part of Commonwealth Week celebrations each year. Organised by The Royal Commonwealth Society, the Banquet was held at the historic Guildhall in collaboration with the City of London Corporation.
Delivering the keynote speech at the Banquet, the Prime Minister of Malta, the Hon Dr Joseph Muscat MP, who is currently Chair-in-Office of the Commonwealth and leading Malta’s Presidency of the EU in the first half of 2017, said: “The opportunities we have ahead of us are crystal clear, and the political scenario that is unfolding makes it imperative for the Commonwealth and for the European Union, to forge a stronger linkage through the United Kingdom.”
We attended the Genesis Initiative Parliamentary Breakfast at the House of Commons, where Rt. Hon Chris Grayling MP, Secretary of State for Transport was a Guest Speaker. Following breakfast we attended the Genesis Initiative Senate in the House of Lords to discuss SME policy issues with many of the other 120 GI Senate members representing 1.5 million UK businesses.
At the end of the week's programme, we cemented our relations with the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC) which has a mandate to facilitate increased trade and investment across the Commonwealth. B3CF in partnership with CWEIC will prepare for promoting Commonwealth First Export Champions in the NB region, and organise the COBCOE, Nordic-Baltic enterprise and Genesis Initiative delegations to the Spring 2018 Commonwealth Business Forum, which will be held in London, UK. Click any picture to see the whole gallery for the event.
The Commonwealth Service 2017: Video News Release
High Commissioners' Banquet: Video News Release