News, Culture & Society

Commonwealth Day: Meghan Markle and Prince Harry visit Canada House

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have arrived at London’s Canada House to kick off celebrations for Commonwealth Day – and their new roles at the forefront of the ‘family of nations’.

Meghan, who is eight months pregnant, wrapped up against the March chill with a bottle green wool dress featuring black beaded floral detail as she arrived at Trafalgar Square with Prince Harry this morning.  

Today’s event will showcase and celebrate the diverse community of young Canadians living in London and around the UK, Kensington Palace said.

Los Angeles native Meghan lived in Canada, described as her ‘second home’, for over six years while filming for legal drama Suits in Toronto and has previously said she feels ‘very connected’ to the country.

The Queen has put Harry and Meghan at the forefront of her Commonwealth duties by making them President and Vice President of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, an organisation promoting young people around the world. 

During their visit today, the couple will have the opportunity to talk to groups of young Canadians from a wide range of sectors including fashion, the arts, business and academia, about their experiences as expats as well as opportunities for young people working in the Commonwealth.

The Duke and Duchess arrive at Canada House. Los Angeles native Meghan lived in Canada, described as her ‘second home’, for over six years while filming for legal drama Suits in Toronto and has previously said she feels ‘very connected’ to the country

The couple are all smiles as they arrive in Trafalgar Square

The couple are all smiles as they arrive in Trafalgar Square. During their visit today, the couple will have the opportunity to talk to groups of young Canadians from a wide range of sectors including fashion, the arts, business and academia

Harry and Meghan arrive at Canada House

During their visit today, the couple will have the opportunity to talk to groups of young Canadians from a wide range of sectors including fashion, the arts, business and academia, about their experiences as expats as well as opportunities for young people working in the Commonwealth

 The couple arrive at Canada House. During their visit today, the couple will have the opportunity to talk to groups of young Canadians from a wide range of sectors including fashion, the arts, business and academia, about their experiences as expats as well as opportunities for young people working in the Commonwealth

Glowing in green: Meghan, who is eight months pregnant, wrapped up against the March chill with a bottle green wool dress featuring black beaded floral detail as she arrived at Trafalgar Square with Prince Harry this morning

Glowing in green: Meghan, who is eight months pregnant, wrapped up against the March chill with a bottle green wool dress featuring black beaded floral detail as she arrived at Trafalgar Square with Prince Harry this morning

The duke and duchess, who are expecting their first child next month, will also meet young people who will demonstrate a Canadian spring tradition of making maple taffy (maple syrup cooled on snow to make sweets) as part of a traditional cabane à sucre (sugar shack).

Commonwealth Day has a special significance this year, as 2019 marks the 70th anniversary of the modern Commonwealth – a global network of 53 countries and almost 2.4 billion people. 

Before departing, the couple will attend a short reception and watch a musical performance before hearing a short speech from High Commissioner, H.E. Ms. Janice Charette.

The UK is home to a large community of expat Canadians; an estimated 500,000 Canadians are have made the country their home.

Later, Harry and Meghan will join the Queen along with other senior members of the royal family and leading figures from national life to attend the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey.

In her message to mark the occasion, the Queen has praised how the ‘family of nations’ inspires its member states to find ways of protecting the planet and its citizens.

Meghan is all smiles in London this morning. The Queen has put Harry and Meghan at the forefront of her Commonwealth duties by making them President and Vice President of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, she announced last week

Meghan is all smiles in London this morning. The Queen has put Harry and Meghan at the forefront of her Commonwealth duties by making them President and Vice President of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, she announced last week

Harry and Meghan arrive at Canada House. Commonwealth Day has a special significance this year, as 2019 marks the 70th anniversary of the modern Commonwealth - a global network of 53 countries and almost 2.4 billion people

Harry and Meghan arrive at Canada House. Commonwealth Day has a special significance this year, as 2019 marks the 70th anniversary of the modern Commonwealth – a global network of 53 countries and almost 2.4 billion people

Millions of people are ‘drawn together’ because of the collective values shared by the institution, the monarch says in her address to the 53 countries of the Commonwealth.

The written message is featured in the order of service for the annual Commonwealth Day service being held at Westminster Abbey later today.

What is the Commonwealth?

Known formally as the Commonwealth of Nations, the group is a free association of 53 member states.

It dates back about 75 years and followed the decolonisation of the British Empire.

As countries sought greater self-governance in the mid-20th century, a new body was set up which united members states not by any legal obligation, but instead by shared values of democracy, freedom of speech and human rights.

The Commonwealth was formally constituted by the London Declaration, which established the members as ‘free and equal’ in 1949.

The Queen remains head of state for 16 member states, she has no formal position in several other nations of the Commonwealth, such as India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. 

The Commonwealth accounts for about a third of the planet’s population, or 2.4 billion people.

The Queen, who is head of the Commonwealth, says in her message: ‘In April last year, I welcomed the leaders of our 53 nations to Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, and we all witnessed how the Commonwealth vision offers hope, and inspires us to find ways of protecting our planet, and our people.

‘We are able to look to the future with greater confidence and optimism as a result of the links that we share, and thanks to the networks of co-operation and mutual support to which we contribute, and on which we draw.

‘With enduring commitment through times of great change, successive generations have demonstrated that whilst the goodwill for which the Commonwealth is renowned may be intangible, its impact is very real.’

The Queen will be joined at the Commonwealth Day service by the Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Duke and Duchess of Sussex and the Duke of York.

Other guests among the 2,000-strong congregation will include Prime Minister Theresa May, the Commonwealth Secretary-General Baroness Scotland, alongside high commissioners, ambassadors, faith leaders and more than 800 schoolchildren and young people. 

The theme for this year’s service is ‘A Connected Commonwealth’ which highlights the co-operation between the culturally diverse family of nations who work together in friendship.

Highlights of the service include performances by Grammy-winning group Clean Bandit and tenor Alfie Boe.

A reflection will be given by Lewis Pugh, an endurance swimmer, ocean advocate and the UN Patron of the Oceans. 

Later in the evening, Charles and Camilla will be guests of the Commonwealth Secretary-General at the annual reception which traditionally takes place on Commonwealth Day at Marlborough House, the home of the Commonwealth Secretariat, the institution’s civil service.

Last year, the Queen told foreign dignitaries of her ‘sincere wish’ that they pick Prince Charles to take over as leader of the Commonwealth and ‘carry on’ the ‘important work’ started by her father in 1949.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk