She will advocate “consensus and cooperation” in her annual message to the public on Commonwealth Day on Monday, calling for the 2.5 billion people who share that connection to come together.
Queen to urge Commonwealth to 'overcome division' in Westminster Abbey service
The Queen's message will form part of the annual Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey on Monday afternoon Credit: WPA Pool/Getty
Hannah Furness (external - login to view)
13 March 2017
The Queen will call on the Commonwealth to “overcome division and find reconciliation”, urging further collaboration for a prosperous future.
She will advocate “consensus and cooperation”, in her annual message to the public on Commonwealth Day (external - login to view) on Monday, calling for the 2.5 billion people who share that connection to come together.
The Queen's message will form part of the annual Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey being held on Monday afternoon and attended by the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Harry, Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex.
Although the Queen’s message will be strictly non-political, as ever, her words are likely to be hailed by Brexiteers as a moment of hope, unifying the Commonwealth even as the UK works to sever bureaucratic ties with the European Union.
Leave campaigners have already emphasised the importance of a renewed relationship with Commonwealth allies this year.
In a message printed in the Commonwealth Day order of service, the Queen will say:
"By upholding justice and the rule of law, and by striving for societies that are fair and offer opportunities for all, we overcome division and find reconciliation, so that the benefits of progress and prosperity may be multiplied and shared.In turbulent global times, the address emphasises the importance of the Commonwealth to the Queen, who sees it as a key unifier of communities around the world.
"As members of the Commonwealth family we can find much to be thankful for in the inheritances we have received from those who came before us.
“Through consensus and cooperation great things have been achieved.
"We can find further reward and fulfilment by continuing to collaborate with others in a spirit of goodwill to build a peaceful and abundant future for all Commonwealth citizens."
Later on Monday, a baton will set out from Buckingham Palace to spend 12 months travelling around the Commonwealth, visiting each of the 52 nations in a symbolic gesture.
Carried through the Abbey by former Olympic heptathlon champion Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, it will eventually be escorted by Australian and UK athletes including double Olympic gold medal cyclist Victoria Pendleton.
It will include a message hidden inside, to be unveiled at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on Australia's Gold Coast.
Flags of the Commonwealth in Parliament Square ahead of the Commonwealth service in Westminster Abbey Credit: Dinendra Haria/REX/Shutterstock
"However, there is an even more powerful message to be seen and experienced as the baton passes from hand to hand, from seashore to mountaintop, through cities, towns, and villages,” the Queen will say.
“It is the message of a peace-building Commonwealth. The cornerstones on which peace is founded are, quite simply, respect and understanding for one another. Working together, we build peace by defending the dignity of every individual and community."
The message is likely to be scrutinised keenly in Westminster, after many MPs called for a new emphasis on the UK’s relationship with the Commonwealth following the Brexit vote last year (external - login to view).
In February, 45 Conservative MPs wrote to the Home Secretary to send an “important message” by allowing Commonwealth citizens to have their UK visas fast-tracked (external - login to view).
Greg Hands, the Trade Minister, has disclosed he would welcome the assistance of negotiators from the Commonwealth in the Brexit process, with many Leave voters believing there is now an opportunity for enhanced trade deals with the UK’s historic allies.
Guests at Monday's ceremony will include Commonwealth Secretary-General Baroness Scotland; Joseph Muscat, the Prime Minister of Malta and Chairperson-in-Office of the Commonwealth; and senior politicians and faith leaders from the UK and Commonwealth.
Queen to urge Commonwealth to 'overcome division' in Westminster Abbey service (external - login to view)