Queen pays tribute to 'modern, vibrant and connected' Commonwealth in annual message

14 March 2022, 14:00 | Updated: 14 March 2022, 15:57

The Queen has released her annual Commonwealth Day message, but will not attend the service.
The Queen has released her annual Commonwealth Day message, but will not attend the service. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

Queen Elizabeth has paid tribute to "a modern, vibrant and connected Commonwealth" in her Commonwealth Day message as she missed the annual service.

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The monarch, who is the Head of the Commonwealth, said the 54 nations combine "a wealth of history and tradition" with "social, cultural and technological advances".

The Queen also praised the strength of relationships built between the nations, and made reference to her Platinum Jubilee as she promised to 'devote' the rest of her life to service.

"In this year of my Platinum Jubilee, it has given me pleasure to renew the promise I made in 1947, that my life will always be devoted in service," she said.

"Today, it is rewarding to observe a modern, vibrant and connected Commonwealth that combines a wealth of history and tradition with the great social, cultural and technological advances of our time. That the Commonwealth stands ever taller is a credit to all who have been involved.

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The Duke of Cambridge, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cambridge arriving at the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey in London on Commonwealth Day.
The Duke of Cambridge, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cambridge arriving at the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey in London on Commonwealth Day. Picture: Alamy

"We are nourished and sustained by our relationships and, throughout my life, I have enjoyed the privilege of hearing what the relationships built across the great reach and diversity of the Commonwealth have meant to people and communities.

"Our family of nations continues to be a point of connection, cooperation and friendship. It is a place to come together to pursue common goals and the common good, providing everyone with the opportunity to serve and benefit. In these testing times, it is my hope that you can draw strength and inspiration from what we share, as we work together towards a healthy, sustainable and prosperous future for all.

The Duke of Cambridge shakes hands with Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he arrives at the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey in London on Commonwealth Day.
The Duke of Cambridge shakes hands with Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he arrives at the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey in London on Commonwealth Day. Picture: Alamy

"And on this special day for our family – in a year that will include the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and the Commonwealth Games – I hope we can deepen our resolve to support and serve one another, and endeavour to ensure the Commonwealth remains an influential force for good in our world for many generations to come."

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey in London on Commonwealth Day
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey in London on Commonwealth Day. Picture: Alamy

Buckingham Palace announced on Friday the 95-year-old would not be attending the service at Westminster Abbey on Monday.

Whilst a reason for her absence was not provided, she has recently recovered from Covid and has scaled back her duties in recent months after a health scare in the autumn that saw her spend a night in hospital.

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Guests attend the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey in London on Commonwealth Day.
Guests attend the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey in London on Commonwealth Day. Picture: Alamy

She had only just returned to more normal working practices when she tested positive for Covid on February 20.

During her illness Buckingham Palace said she suffered from "cold-like symptoms" and continued with her "light duties", although she did cancel two virtual engagements during her isolation period.

She returned to in-person engagements last week, meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arriving at the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey in London on Commonwealth Day.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arriving at the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey in London on Commonwealth Day. Picture: Alamy

The Commonwealth is a political association of 54 member states.

Almost all of the member nations are former territories of the British Empire.

Combined, the countries have a population of 2.5 billion people.

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall arriving at the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey in London on Commonwealth Day
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall arriving at the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey in London on Commonwealth Day. Picture: Alamy

Monday's service would have been the Queen's first major public appearance since reaching her Platinum Jubilee milestone in February.

It will see the world premiere of the musical piece Beacon Of Brightest Light, inspired by the Queen's jubilee and composed by Debbie Wiseman, and will begin with a procession of Commonwealth flags.

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Organised by the Royal Commonwealth Society, the event will feature the Queen's Commonwealth Day message, with members of the royal family set to meet people involved in the service at the end.

It will be the first time the Queen has missed the ceremony in almost a decade.

The Queen met Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after recovering from coronavirus
The Queen met Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after recovering from coronavirus. Picture: Alamy

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: "After discussing the arrangements with the Royal Household, the Queen has asked the Prince of Wales to represent Her Majesty at the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey on Monday.

"The Queen will continue with other planned engagements, including in-person audiences, in the week ahead."