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Does Commonwealth Day matter?


Sandwiched between International Women’s Day (8 March) and St Patrick’s Day (17 March) is Commonwealth Day. Celebrated in 2016 on Monday 14 March, this is not a date-bound commemoration but always falls on the second Monday in March. Like the celebrations of the global achievements of women and the usually more exuberant affirmations of Irish identity, Commonwealth Day is marked across the globe, and not only in the 53 member countries of the modern Commonwealth. Geneva, Stockholm, Hong Kong and New York have all seen ceremonies recognising the role and achievements of the Commonwealth, as well as more public events across the association itself.

London is invariably the focal point for Commonwealth Day activity – but only because that is usually where the Head of the Commonwealth, Queen Elizabeth, will be found. She is the Commonwealth’s most enthusiastic supporter and has worked in a myriad of unobtrusive but often significant ways to sustain and embolden the organisation.

2016 is the year in which the Queen turns 90, and for 64 of those years she has been the Commonwealth’s Head, the second to hold office. Commonwealth Presidents and Prime Ministers – and a few Kings and Queens – have come and gone. Deeply contentious issues – like Rhodesia and apartheid in South Africa – have convulsed the association and occasionally brought it close to dissolution. In over half a century, the world has changed beyond measure, as has the Commonwealth itself. Yet her commitment to the association has been constant. Full Story

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