I was interested and proud to read in Marlborough News Online that Marlborough flew the flag for Commonwealth Day, the theme this year being “An Inclusive Commonwealth”. Two of our previous Marlborough Brandt Lent Lecturers have been Secretary Generals of the Commonwealth, Chief Anyeku from Nigeria and Kamalesh Sharma, the current Secretary General, from India.
I had the privilege of spending Commonwealth Day celebrating the Commonwealth and its 53 member states firstly at a meeting in the House of Commons on ‘An Inclusive Education in the Commonwealth’ at which we were addressed by the Commonwealth Secretary General designate, Baroness Patricia Scotland originally from Domenica, a lawyer, onetime UK Attorney General and the first woman and UK citizen to be appointed as Secretary General. She made a powerful and inspiring speech about the need for education to be more inclusive in all countries, not least of women and girls, the disabled and members of the LGBT community.
Then we moved to the amazing Commonwealth Observance in Westminster Abbey, attended by members of the Royal Family and people from every country of the Commonwealth and addressed by representatives of all the major world faiths. And finally a reception at Marlborough House, (how appropriately named!) headquarters of the Commonwealth at which HM the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were present and mingled amongst us talking about the important role that the Commonwealth can, must and does play as a family of people with a common history, language, administrative and legal system.
It is perhaps a challenge for all of us members of the older generation to be reminding our younger generation of the importance of the Commonwealth and the vitally important role that it can play through civil society and Government engagement in bringing peace to our troubled world. There is of course a tinge of sadness for Marlborough in that our link was with a Commonwealth country, but that came to an end a few years ago when, for reasons best known to himself, the President decided to withdraw The Gambia from this family of nations.