The King celebrates Commonwealth Day 2023 at the Abbey

Monday, 13th March 2023

HM King Charles III rubbing noses (a traditional Maori greeting) with a member of the Ngati Ranana

Their Majesties The King and The Queen Consort attended the annual Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey at 2.45pm on Monday 13th March - The King’s first as monarch.

They were accompanied by TRH The Prince and Princess of Wales, HRH The Princess Royal and Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, and TRH The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh.

On arrival at the Abbey, Their Majesties received a traditional Māori greeting from Ngāti Rānana London Māori Club.

During the service, which was conducted by the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr David Hoyle, The King delivered his Commonwealth Day message from the Great Pulpit, saying:

'Commonwealth Day was an occasion of particular pride for my beloved mother, the late Queen; a treasured opportunity to celebrate our Commonwealth family, to whose service she dedicated her long and remarkable life. The Commonwealth has been a constant in my own life, and yet its diversity continues to amaze and inspire me. Its near-boundless potential as a force for good in the world demands our highest ambition; its sheer scale challenges us to unite and be bold.’

HM The King's Commonwealth Day message 2023 (PDF, 80KB)

The service included musical performances by West End stars Roshani Abbey and Nuwan Hugh Perara; the all-female Amalgamation Choir from Cyprus; and saxophonist YolanDa Brown. Marking Rwanda’s role as the current Commonwealth Chair-in-Office, there was also a performance by the Rwandan National Ballet, Urukerereza.

Brianna Fruean, a young Samoan environmental advocate and a previous recipient of a Commonwealth Youth Award, read a reflection. Minister Biruta, Representative of the Commonwealth Chair-in-Office, read from Isaiah 11:1-9.

Commonwealth Day 2023 highlights

Prayers were led by the Reverend Robert Latham, Minor Canon and Sacrist; and faith leaders Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra, Lord Singh of Wimbledon, Rabbi Charley Baginsky, and the Venerable Bogoda Seelawimala offered words of blessing for the Commonwealth.

The Right Honourable Baroness Scotland, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations, lead the Act of Affirmation to the Commonwealth.

The service was sung by The Choir of Westminster Abbey, conducted by Andrew Nethsingha, Organist and Master of the Choristers. The organ was played by Peter Holder, Sub-Organist.

Among the 2000-strong congregation were High Commissioners, senior political figures from the UK and the Commonwealth, faith leaders, and some of the home nations athletes who competed at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham last year. They were joined by more than 750 children from schools and youth groups.

Order of Service: Commonwealth Day Service 2023 (PDF, 569KB)

Watch the service

You can watch the Commonwealth Day service on YouTube.

About the Commonwealth and Commonwealth Day

The Commonwealth is an association of 56-member states with a combined population of 2.5 billion citizens, almost a third of the world's people. Commonwealth countries span Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe and the Pacific and are diverse – they are amongst the world’s largest, smallest, richest and poorest countries. 

Held on the second Monday of March each year, the Commonwealth Service celebrates the people and cultures of all of the Commonwealth nations.

More about Commonwealth at the Abbey