On Monday 14 March, Commonwealth Scholars and members of Commonwealth Scholarship Commission attended a commemorative service at Westminster Abbey to mark Commonwealth Day.

This annual celebration event observed by people across the Commonwealth is an opportunity to affirm the shared values of dignity, respect, justice, and peace as well as promoting the unity and diversity of Commonwealth members.

Heading up the CSC delegation at Westminster Abbey were the Commission Chair, Professor Robin Mason and CSC Commissioner Professor, Sarah Hawkes. The CSC was pleased to invite sixteen Commonwealth Scholars to join the CSC delegation, two of whom were also chosen to represent their home countries as flagbearers at the service.

A celebration of music, readings, and performances

Commonwealth Scholars and Commissioners standing in front of Westminster Abbey.

Commonwealth Scholars outside Westminster Abbey on Commonwealth Day 2022

Organised by the Royal Commonwealth Society, the service welcomed members of the Royal Family led by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales and over 1,500 guests of honour including senior politicians, High Commissioners, and dignitaries and faith leaders from the Commonwealth.

As the largest annual inter-faith gathering in the UK in celebration of Her Majesty The Queen’s lifetime commitment to the Commonwealth, the service is notable for its exciting line-up of performers, which this year included Mica Paris, Members of the Whānau London Voices, Emeli Sandé, the London African Gospel Choir, and a collaboration between poet Imtiaz Dharker and sitarist Jasdeep Singh Degun.

During the service there were also blessing from faith leaders and several speaker contributions, including a reading of the Commonwealth Affirmation by the Commonwealth Secretary-General, The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC.

The service concluded with the procession of Commonwealth flags featuring Commonwealth Scholars Ayesha Khawar Butt representing Pakistan and Charity Nankunda representing Uganda.

“Attending the ceremony was a whole new experience for me. Seeing the flags of all the Commonwealth nations and listening to the amazing musical performances was definitely a treat to the eyes and ears. I am so happy that I got to experience all of this due to the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission who provided us with this opportunity and ensured that we were well-prepared prior to the event.” – 2021 Commonwealth Scholar from India

Delivering a Common Future

The theme for Commonwealth Day 2022 was ‘Delivering a Common Future: Connecting, Innovating, Transforming’, and the service at Westminster Abbey highlighted the numerous ways in which Commonwealth members are working together to achieve common goals.

This year’s theme also anticipated the forthcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), due to take place in Rwanda in June 2022, where the 54 Commonwealth member countries will come together to affirm their joint commitment to addressing global challenges such as tackling climate change and promoting good governance.

Looking ahead to this important meeting of Commonwealth leaders, the CSC is proud to showcase the work of Commonwealth Scholars whose contribution to UK higher education and sustainable development strengthens fellowship and unity within the Commonwealth.