King Charles and Queen Camilla attend their first Commonwealth Day Service as reigning couple

Wednesday 15th March 2023 09:01 EDT

The pillars of the Memorial Gates, inaugurated by the Queen on November 6, 2002, are dedicated to five million people from the Indian Sub-Continent, Africa and the Caribbean who served or lost their lives in the two World Wars.

They also celebrate the contribution that these men and women and their descendants continue to make to the rich diversity of British society. The pillars are made from Portland Stone and are carved with the names: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Africa, the Caribbean, Kingdom of Nepal.

They are topped by a bronze urn and gas flames, which are lit on special occasions such as Remembrance Sunday, Armistice Day and Commonwealth Day. The names of holders of Victoria and George Crosses are engraved on the inside of the domed pavilion and the major campaigns are listed on two stone benches The great stone arch, just outside of the park, is the Wellington Arch. It once stood and marked the northern gate to Buckingham Palace. It moved to its present position in 1882.

Since the opening of the Memorial Gates on Constitution Hill in 2002, a wreath-laying ceremony is held every year, which is organised on Commonwealth Day and this year on Monday 13 March there was a special focus on the service and sacrifice of the Windrush Generation, as 2023 marks the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the HMT Empire Windrush. Lord Karan Bilimoria on behalf of the life President of the Memorial Gates Council, Baroness Shreela Flather and in partnership with the Royal British Legion, hosted the event.

The Commonwealth represents a global network of 56 countries, having been joined by Gabon and Togo in 2022. Working in collaboration towards shared economic, environmental, social and democratic goals, the Service seeks to highlight a vast community which spans every geographical region, religion and culture, embracing the diversity of it its population of 2.5 billion people, of which over 60 per cent are under 30 years old.

King Charles and Queen Camilla attended their first Commonwealth Day Service as the reigning couple. The King, 74, and Queen Consort, 75, joined members of the royal family at Westminster Abbey on Monday for the annual event honouring the 56 countries and nations that make up the Commonwealth. Others members of the royal family in attendance included Prince William and Kate Middleton, Prince Edward and Sophie (the new Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh) and Princess Anne and Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence. During the event, King Charles gave his Commonwealth Day address from the Great Pulpit at Westminster Abbey, in which he remembered his mother, Queen Elizabeth.

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