Commonwealth Day 2022: date, why do we celebrate, what is the Commonwealth of Nations, when is service on TV?
Commonwealth Day has been the annual celebration of the Commonwealth of Nations since 1977.
Once known as Empire Day, it is most often celebrated on the second Monday in March.
Here is everything you need to know about Commonwealth Day 2022.
What is Commonwealth Day?
Commonwealth Day is an annual celebration enjoyed by people all over the Commonwealth.
This includes those in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Americas, the Pacific and Europe.
The theme for Commonwealth Day 2022 is Delivering a Common Future.
It will highlight how the 54 member countries in the Commonwealth family are ‘innovating, connecting and transforming’ to help achieve goals like fighting climate change, promoting good governance and boosting trade.
When is Commonwealth Day 2022?
Commonwealth Day 2022 will be celebrated on Monday 14 March 2022.
A service will be held at Westminster Abbey in London.
At 2:00pm, on Monday 14 March, BBC One will begin broadcasting the Celebration for Commonwealth Day.
The broadcast will be live from Westminster Abbey, and the special service will take place from 2.40pm - 3.45pm.
Those who miss the live broadcast, or are watching from outside the UK, can enjoy the special service on the BBC’s YouTube channel and BBC iPlayer.
Those attending the service have been formally invited.
What is the history behind the Commonwealth?
The Commonwealth of Nations was first officially formed in 1926.
Once known as the British Commonwealth, the original members were the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Irish Free State, and Newfoundland.
It is now a voluntary association of 54 independent countries, where no one government exercises power over the others.
The countries in the Commonwealth which have diverse social, political, and economic backgrounds are regarded as equals.
The countries also have common values and goals, such as the promotion of democracy, human rights, good governance, the rule of law, individual liberty, equality before the law, free trade, multilateralism and world peace.
These values and goals are promoted through projects and meetings, such as the Commonwealth Games which is held once every four years.
The next Commonwealth Games is 2022 (this year), from Thursday 28 July to Monday 8 August.
Queen Elizabeth II currently serves as the Head of the Commonwealth.
However, the position is purely symbolic and does not give her any political or executive power.
Commonwealth Day in most countries is not a public holiday. However, Gibraltar has it marked as a holiday but not in March.
What countries are in the Commonwealth?
54 independent countries, who have a combined population of 2.4 billion, make up the Commonwealth. These are:
Africa - Botswana, Cameroon, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Kingdom of Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia.
Asia - Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, India, Malaysia, Maldives, Pakistan, Singapore and Sri Lanka.
Caribbean and Americas - Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and The Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Europe - Cyprus, Matla and the United Kingdom.
Pacific - Australia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoe, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
Currently, 34 countries are republics, fifteen of the countries are Commonwealth realms where the Head of the Commonwealth (currently The Queen) is their head of state, and five countries (Brunei, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malaysia and Tonga) are monarchies with their own individual monarchs.
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