March 16

Commonwealth Day: The Queen speaks


Her  Majesty talks about the role of women in the Commonwealth in her annual message.



…brightening up Westminster Abbey…


Brightening up Westminster Abbey with a beaming smile and brilliant sky blue coat-hat combo, the Queen attended the annual Observance of Commonwealth Day service on Monday, reported Hello magazine (9/10).

Alongside her at the multifaith event, held on the second Monday of March each year to mark Commonwealth Day, were Prince Philip, Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, who dazzled in a purple outfit.

In her speech, which was broadcast simultaneously to all Commonwealth countries, the monarch echoed the theme of this year's day – science, technology and society.

Known to be a keen mobile phone user, she talked about technology's ability to transform lives around the world, but also warned that the internet was an "unaffordable option" for many.

…speech not on advice…

The Queen's Commonwealth Day speech is one of only two in the royal calendar in which she gets to express her own sentiments, rather than those suggested by her advisors. The other is her Christmas Day address.

Among the other guests at the service was Rwandan president Paul Kagame, whom the Queen met in a private audience at Buckingham Palace.

Former Belgian colony Rwanda, which joined the Commonwealth last year, is one of just three member states that wasn't once part of the British Empire

….Marlborough House reception….

After the service, Her Majesty attended a reception for dignitaries at Marlborough House alongside Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma.

…Sydney celebration …..

In the New South Wales celebrations arranged by the NSW Commonwealth Day Council in Sydney, a debate between two leading schools teams was held in the Legislative Assembly chamber at Parliament House, adjudicated by the Hon Max Frederick Willis RFD, ED, CSI, former President of the Legislative Council, Ms Lynn Lovelock, Clerk of the Parliaments and Russell Grove PSM, Clerk of the Legislative Assembly. The debate was chaired by Professor David Flint. In the meantime the splendid Scots College Pipe Band played in the forecourt. Parading all the flags of the Commonwealth, school children formed two honour lines as Her Excellency the Governor, Professor Marie Bashir, accompanied by Sir Nicholas Shehadie, entered the building and joined a large assembly in the Strangers’ Lounge . This was followed by the Commonwealth Day Luncheon in the Strangers’ Room, the nation's leading broadcaster Alan Jones AO acting as Master of Ceremonies. In the presence of the President of the Legislative Council, the Hon Amanda Fazio, the former Speaker, the Hon John Aquilina, and members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps, the guests were welcomed by Janet Stewart president of the Commonwealth Day Council.

The Sydney Girls High School Quartet performed during the function.    Her Excellency read The Queen's Commonwealth Day message, and later delivered the Occasional address.

The Queen was toasted and after a singing of the National Anthem by Anja Nissen , there was a spontaneous rendition of God Save The Queen. After the luncheon, David Harvey from the Australian Youth Trust presented the Tom Harvey award. The Hon. Max Willis announced the winner of the debate, the Public School team and presented the debating awards.   


                         The Queen's Commonwealth Day Message 2011 is posted below- click on "Read More" 

Last week, on the 8th of March, we marked the hundredth anniversary of the first International Women’s Day. The idea of having a women’s day was first proposed against the backdrop of the rapid industrialisation of the early twentieth century. From small beginnings, this idea has grown to become a widely recognised way of celebrating women around the world. While some people use this day to acknowledge the love, admiration and respect for women, others use it to remember the great social and political strides made both by and for women in the last hundred years. There is no right or wrong approach.

In the Commonwealth, every year, 26 million girls are born; and this equates to one new baby girl arriving almost every second of every day. In the time it takes to hold the Commonwealth Observance Service at Westminster Abbey, nearly four thousand girls will have been born in Commonwealth lands. And every one of these births marks the start of a new life, a journey which begins with the hopes of parents, families and communities, and which is continued through the aspirations of those girls themselves.

This year, the Commonwealth celebrates the important role that women already play in every walk of life and in every Commonwealth country – from the richest to the poorest areas, across continents and oceans, from villages to places of international debate, in every culture and faith – recognising that women are ‘agents of change’ in so many ways: as mothers and sisters, teachers and doctors, artists and craftspeople, smallholders and entrepreneurs, and as leaders of our societies, unleashing the potential of those around them.

And also this year, the Commonwealth reflects on what more could be achieved if women were able to play an even larger role. For example, I am encouraged that last year the Commonwealth launched a global effort to train and support half a million more midwives worldwide.

In all this work the commendable goal is to create a greater opportunity for women as children and adults to pursue their hopes and dreams, to attain their goals, and to make best use of their talents and knowledge.

This year, and on Commonwealth Day especially, as governments continue to search for new ways to tackle these important challenges, let us all give a thought to the practical ways in which we, as individuals or as groups, can provide support to girls and women – so that everyone can have a chance of a fuller and more rewarding life, wherever they happen to be born.



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