LONDON, England -- Queen Elizabeth II, head of the Commonwealth, will mark Commonwealth Day on Monday by signing the Commonwealth Charter, an historic document that brings together, for the first time in the association's 64-year history, key declarations on Commonwealth principles.
The Charter signing will take place at a reception hosted by the Commonwealth Secretary-General at Marlborough House in London. It will be the Queen’s first official engagement since leaving hospital last week.
After the signing, the Queen will address high commissioners and other dignitaries at the reception.
Heads of government adopted the Commonwealth Charter on 14 December 2012, following a year-long consultation with member governments and civil society. The signed Charter will remain on display at Marlborough House.
Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma said: “The modern Commonwealth is built on the shared values, principles and goals in our Commonwealth Charter. We are deeply honoured that the Queen will endorse the Charter on what is a significant day for the entire Commonwealth family.”
Noting the Commonwealth Day 2013 theme ‘Opportunity through Enterprise’, Sharma added: “Converting the words of the Charter into practical action and results can be achieved and indeed accelerated by taking full advantage of opportunities created by enterprising Commonwealth citizens, organisations and governments.”
The theme will be marked throughout the week with a series of events across the Commonwealth’s 54 countries.
A special Commonwealth Day message on the 'Opportunity through Enterprise' theme from the Queen, in her capacity as Head of the Commonwealth, will be broadcast on radio stations and read at public events across the Commonwealth to mark the day.
In London, Commonwealth Day will be celebrated with a multi-faith Observance at Westminster Abbey, also attended by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. Entrepreneur and philanthropist Sir Richard Branson, award-winning soul singer Beverley Knight, indie-rock favourites The Noisettes, and acclaimed ‘Young Global Leader’ Ricken Patel will lead celebrations in the Abbey. Children’s poet, John Agard, will read a poem specially commissioned for the Observance.
Also on Monday, Commonwealth Games Glasgow 2014 will unveil the international route to be taken by the Queen’s Baton Relay. The relay is a unique tradition, which begins at Buckingham Palace on 9 October and ends at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland. The Games unite the two billion citizens of the Commonwealth in a celebration of sport, diversity and peace.
On Tuesday, the Commonwealth Foundation will host the 16th Commonwealth Lecture at Guildhall in London. Ricken Patel, founding president and executive director of the global campaigning movement Avaaz, will deliver this lecture.
The Commonwealth Youth Programme's Africa, Asia, Caribbean and Pacific regional centres will all host commemorative events.
Since 1977, Commonwealth Day has been celebrated on the second Monday in March each year – a day when schools are open in all Commonwealth countries. It is an opportunity to promote understanding on democratic values, the dignity of citizens and opportunities for youth across the Commonwealth.