British Royal Family at Commonwealth Day Service

  March 12, 2012 at 8:48 pm by

The British Royal Family today marked Commonwealth Day, which is held each year on the second Monday of March to celebrate the British Commonwealth.

Queen Elizabeth II led the celebration at the multi-faith service held at Westminster Abbey. She was joined by the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Countess of Wessex and the Duke of Gloucester. The royal family all appeared to be in high spirits, with smiles and laughs a plenty upon arrival and throughout.

Performances at the service were given by a Canadian and a South African, in the spirit of Commonwealth inclusion and this year’s theme – Connecting Cultures.

View the full gallery at Zimbio

The Queen and the Duchess of Cornwall both chose bright shades for their ensembles – fuschia and purple, respectively. Their outfits were completed by matching hats from Angela Kelly, the Queen’s personal couturier, and Philip Treacy. The Countess of Wessex went the opposite route and wore a silk coat in taupe over  a black dress. Her hat was the most flamboyant of the three – featuring both a sky-high vertical brim and a headpiece of feathers.

Earlier in the day, the Queen’s annual Commonwealth Day address was released by Buckingham Palace.

In the speech, Queen Elizabeth spoke of the way today’s technology allows members of the Commonwealth to connect with each other – “to see, hear and enter into the experience of people in communities and circumstances far removed from our own.” She also encouraged the members of the Commonwealth to “share and strengthen” the citizenship of the Commonwealth.

LINK: Listen to the Queen’s Commonwealth Day address

Commonwealth Day began as Empire Day in 1898, implemented in Canadian schools. It moved to the United Kingdom in 1904, with local fireworks and bonfires. It became Commonwealth Day in 1958 to signify the new era following post-colonial times.

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