Queen hails 'Team Commonwealth'

Mid Devon Star: The Queen has given her annual Commonwealth Day address The Queen has given her annual Commonwealth Day address

The Queen has used her Commonwealth Day message to praise the family of nations as a "powerful influence of good for the future".

She stressed that experiences across the Commonwealth may be different but everyone is focused on the same goals.

In her annual address, she highlighted this year's Commonwealth theme - Team Commonwealth - and how nations understood they could achieve more by working together.

The Queen's pre-recorded message will form part of the annual Observance of Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey this afternoon attended by the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall and a host of dignitaries.

In her address, the Queen, who is head of the Commonwealth, said: "Affinities of history and inheritance from the past are strong, yet we are bound together by a sense that the Commonwealth is a powerful influence of good for the future.

"People of all ages from different cultures are weaving an ever-growing network of links which connect us in our diversity and our common purpose. It is this unity that is expressed in this year's theme: Team Commonwealth."

The Queen went on to say: "Experiences of life differ widely throughout the Commonwealth, and we each make contributions from sometimes very different viewpoints.

"But we are committed to the same goals. Together we offer each other encouragement and draw strength from this mutual support.

"The understanding that we belong together, and are able, through teamwork, to achieve far more than we could do alone, has always been at the heart of our approach.

"For all of us this is now captured in the Commonwealth Charter which sets out the values and principles which guide and motivate us."

The Queen also highlighted the Commonwealth Games, which will be staged in Glasgow this summer, and how her baton is making its way around the globe through 70 nations before returning to Scotland.

During the Westminster Abbey service, the Commonwealth will be celebrated with music, readings and hymns and will feature an address by schoolgirl campaigner Malala Yousafzai and former sporting stars Lord Coe and Baroness Grey-Thompson will both give a "reflection".

There will be a performance by acclaimed Mobo award winner and Brit nominee Laura Mvula and a poem - specially commissioned for Commonwealth Day - will be read by South African writer and performance artist Phillippa Yaa de Villiers.

The Observance, Britain's largest annual inter-faith gathering, will be attended by nearly 1,000 children.

Commonwealth Day, held annually on the second Monday in March, will feature the Queen unfurling a banner as part of the Fly A Flag For The Commonwealth initiative, where hundreds of flags will be flown across the UK today.

In his message, Commonwealth S ecretary-General Kamalesh Sharma said: "The essence of a team is that - like the Commonwealth - its members know the advantage of working together and the strength of mutual support.

"The essence of a team also is that - like the Commonwealth - it has shared aspirations and a sense of common purpose, and relies on the range of contributions and different strengths of each of its members.

"The essence of a successful team - such as the Commonwealth - is that together it achieves more than the sum of its parts."

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