Queen hails 'cultural tapestry' on Commonwealth Day

The Queen at last year's Commonwealth heads of government in Australia
Image caption The Queen's message celebrates the "wealth of diversity" in the Commonwealth

The Queen is calling for people who live in the Commonwealth to celebrate the "extraordinary cultural tapestry" of the "unique gathering of nations".

In her annual Commonwealth Day message she describes the "wealth of diversity" of the 54 member nations.

Two billion people live in the Commonwealth and the Queen said it provided a great "understanding" for cultural differences.

Several Commonwealth countries will help celebrate her Diamond Jubilee.

The Commonwealth, which was founded in 1949, includes 52 former colonies of the British Empire, along with Mozambique and Rwanda, which joined in 1995 and 2009 respectively.

In her pre-recorded speech, which will form part of Commonwealth Day celebrations at Westminster Abbey later, she says: "This year, our Commonwealth focus seeks to explore how we can share and strengthen the bond of Commonwealth citizenship we already enjoy by using our cultural connections to help bring us even closer together, as family and friends across the globe.

"'Connecting Cultures', our Commonwealth theme this year, encourages us to consider the special opportunities we have, as members of this unique gathering of nations, to celebrate an extraordinary cultural tapestry that reflects our many individual and collective identities.

"The Commonwealth treasures and respects this wealth of diversity."

Stronger As One

She also talks about technology breaking down cultural barriers, saying: "One of the great benefits of today's technology-based world is the range of opportunities it offers to understand and appreciate how others live: we can see, hear and enter into the experience of people in communities and circumstances far removed from our own."

A new song - Stronger As One - has been composed to complement the theme of her speech.

Commonwealth secretary general Kamalesh Sharma said in his Commonwealth Day message: "This is our opportunity to celebrate the rich cultural diversity of the Commonwealth and what this enrichment means to us as individuals."

Meanwhile, people from Malaysia, India, Australia, South Africa, Canada and New Zealand have signed up to take part in the Big Jubilee Lunches on 3 June.

The project encourages people to get together to share lunch with neighbours and friends as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

More on this story