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Indian service men, women commemorated on Commonwealth Day

Indian service men, women commemorated on Commonwealth Day
Courtesy: SOPA Images / Contributor | LightRocket Via Getty Images

The contribution of soldiers from the Indian subcontinent who sacrificed their lives in the two World Wars was commemorated alongside service men and women from across the Commonwealth at an annual  ceremony in London.

The Memorial Gates on Constitution Hill played host to defence personnel and diplomats, including Indian High Commissioner to the UK Vikram Doraiswami, to honour the memory of the volunteers who fought with the British armed forces to mark Commonwealth Day – observed on the second Monday of March every year. 

The Memorial Gates were inaugurated by Queen Elizabeth II in 2002 as a lasting memorial to honour the 5 million service men and women from the Indian subcontinent, Africa and the Caribbean and is the site of an annual wreath laying ceremony in honour of their sacrifices in the two World Wars.

Lord Karan Bilimoria, British Indian entrepreneur and Chairman of the Memorial Gates Council, said: “What we do here at these gates is more important than ever, given the war in Ukraine, and always will be.”

This year’s ceremony had a special focus on the Windrush Generation, referring to those who arrived in the UK from the West Indies on the Empire Windrush in 1948 and other migrants of that generation until 1971.

With “Forging a Sustainable and Peaceful Common Future” as the theme of Commonwealth Day this year, the aim of the celebrations is to unite 2.5 billion Commonwealth citizens across its 56 member-states, including India. It is the first to be presided over by King Charles III as the Head of the Commonwealth, taking over from his late mother Queen Elizabeth II.

King Charles said in his speech: “In succeeding Her Majesty as Head of the Commonwealth, I draw great strength from her example, together with all that I have learnt from the extraordinary people I have met, throughout the Commonwealth, over so many years.

“The Commonwealth has been a constant in my own life, and yet its diversity continues to amaze and inspire me. Its near-boundless potential as a force for good in the world demands our highest ambition; its sheer scale challenges us to unite and be bold.”


Indian service men, women commemorated on Commonwealth Day
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All across the Commonwealth, cities host inter-faith, multicultural observances to mark the day and one of the largest gatherings is a traditional service at Westminster Abbey in London, attended by the King, senior government officials, and other dignitaries.

Baroness Patricia Scotland, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth said: “We stand together now to face the challenges of the moment and seize the opportunities of tomorrow.

“I believe profoundly that our family of 56 nations and 2.5 billion people is stronger, more vibrant, more connected and more purposeful than ever.”

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