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A day off school to see the Queen at the Commonwealth Service -Westminster Abbey

Orchards Academy, Age: 13

Solomon Island Flag bearer with Delegates:

Orchards Academy (Youth):

Friday, 09/03/2018 after 5.00pm At first, when my Auntie told me I was going to Westminster Abbey, I did not really know what that entailed. All it meant for me was, I would be missing school I guess!!

Monday, 12/03/2018 08:50 am The day came for Westminster Abbey’s visit, but my parents made me go to school for 2 lessons, now that was a shock!! We arrived at Westminster station, the rendenz vous point, a few minutes to 1.00 pm (earlier than the time we were supposed to be there.) The others finally arrived and we crossed the road to the Westminster Abbey where we saw all the Commonwealth country flags including my country flag.

We took group pictures underneath our country flag, where I posed serious, yet excited.

We entered into the Abbey, where we showed our tickets and passed security.

We also saw cameras as they were recording, I wanted to be on TV, get noticed, so at every opportunity I had, I made sure they got my good side and I was doing something interesting. We were not allowed to use our phones inside and I was totally disappointed. I wanted to take a picture of the royal family, it broke my heart. As the show started (I would call it that) I saw Theresa May pass through the doors she was wearing a red hat, grey blazer, red gown, red shoes and carrying a purse. Different religious leaders and the flag bearers carrying their country flags came in after her. I was mostly interested in seeing the Royal family. After everyone else came in, excluding the royal family, the organizer thought it would be a great idea to locate 5 fanfares on top of where I sat, this was to announce the arrival of the Queen (This scared the living days out of me).Then came in Meghan and Prince Harry, Prince William and Kate, Princess Alexandra (Duchess of Gloucester), Lady Ogilvy and all of a sudden, EVERBODY stands up for the QUEEN. I did not really get a good seat so I had to tip toe and look pass every one’s head to see the Queen walking by. She was wearing a purplish reddish outfit. I thought I was dreaming seeing the Queen, as this was not even one of my life events on my wish list, but I can now add and tick that off. We sang the National anthem, I was surprised we did not scare the queen because we were so loud and the music too. I then heard this song the way they sang it was beautiful. I did not understand a word they said. I think they were a Native American tribe from the way they dressed. We were all handed program by the staff, so I could read the song in English as it was written inside the program. Ngati Ranana, the London Maori choir sings.” Kua rongo mai koe kit e reo pahiri E karanga ake nei e E karanga ake ana kit e ao whanui Piki mai kake mai ra Na wai teo reo na wait e mana E karangaake nei e Ko koe te Kuini irihapeti Ki nga iwi o tea ao e. In English: You have heard the voice of welcome the call of welcome indeed, calling to all the people of the world welcome and draw closer, whose is this voice that has issued this call, it is that of Queen Elizabeth to all the people of the world. After Theresa May and the other participants gave their inspiring speeches, these really spoke to me. The Westminster Abbey choir sang and then the religious leaders said their different prayers. Technically the prayers were pretty much the same but in different orders. After the prayers, the service ended. I would have loved to have taking pictures with the Royal family but I could not as we were not allowed to do so. I saw Theresa May as she was leaving, I did not get to take a picture with her too because she was too far away but I was able to take a picture with Jeremy Corbyn (Leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition since 2015. He has been the Member of Parliament for Islington North since 1983.)

On our way to the train station, I recognized a statuette named Nelson Mandela (Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, political leader, and philanthropist, who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999.) I took a picture of his statue and then saw Winston Churchill (Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill KG OM CH TD DL FRS RA was a British statesman, army officer, and writer, who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951.) after this, we boarded the train and went back home. THE END.

Opposition Leader(Labour) Jeremy Corbyn with NSF(UK) youths

Monday 12th March 2018-Desola

The Commonwealth Service I woke up this morning bright and early rearing to go to school. I was going to have to leave early, as I was going to the Commonwealth Service. Being VERY excited I ate breakfast showered etc. I did not know that it would be a dramatic day. My mum and I left for school a bit later than we would normally. Thinking it wouldn't make a difference, I was trying to guess what colour dress the Queen would wear. We suddenly hit a great wave of traffic like a tsunami hitting the roads. My mum said I couldn't go to school because big the time we would have arrived there we would have to start leaving. As you can imagine I was extremely disappointed so we made our way back home. It was challenging for me as I couldn't stop thinking about missing school.

Our source of transport to get to Westminster was by train. It took us about an hour and a half to arrive and (because we were supposed to meet our group) we met our group leader outside the Nigerian flag. After a few photos we approached the queue a we finally got in. Westminster was very grown and large. All sounds echoed through the hall. It felt quite mysterious. Out seats were again the back but we could still see everything clearly. As soon as everyone was inside the Abbey the Procession of the Flags began. Afterwards the Royal families walked down the hall to their seats. This is including: Prince William, Prince Henry of Wales Prince Harry and Ms Megan Markle, she was wearing a stunning dress with a blazer. All her clothes were white and she smiled at everyone. I couldn't believe I was seeing her I person! Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May were also there. Theresa wore a red hat and a dress with a grey blazer, with a pearl necklace. The Queen came in last . It was the time EVERYONE had been waiting for. She looked spectacular she wore a burgundy dress and blazer with the same colour bonnet. The Queen walked steadily and slowly and sat down. I couldn't see everything but luckily there were large screens I watched. We sang hymns and people recited their speeches. When the service ended everyone except Royals had to stay behind to let the important people out without us bombarding them. As I got out my eyes had to adjust to the light because it was quite dark in the Abbey. All the 53 flags and holders were outside wearing their cultural clothes. There was one man from the Solomon Islands who wore barely any clothes in the FREEZING COLD! The whole group took a photo with the Nigerian flag and we started to leave. My mum and I were just leaving when I spotted Jeremy Corbyn! There was already crowd surrounding him to take photos. I snuck underneath people and he noticed me. He asked me if I enjoyed the service and I nodded eagerly. My mum took a photo of both of us and we thanked him.

It was finally time to leave although I begged my mum if we could stay longer. It was such an inspiring experience and I did not want it to end. Seeing so many important dignitaries face to face and learning so much about countries I had not even heard of before. We saw the Cameroonian protesters outside the venue as we walked to the train station. On the way back I asked,"Can I go to school now?!" I was eager to share my experience and all I'd learnt with my friends.

Did you know? 1. There are 53 countries in the Commonwealth 2. The Queen is head of the Commonwealth 3. Many of the countries are islands 4. It is home to about 2.4 billion citizens 5. Some of the world’s largest, smallest, richest and poorest countries included in the Commonwealth 6. Gambia just re-joined 7. The service started at 3:15 8. I saw: stain glass windows, choirs from different countries, commonwealth flag, historical objects and sculptures.

NSF (UK) delegates with the Nigerian High Commissioner (UK) His Excellency Ambassador Oguntade & Wife

Commonwealth Day 2018-Sean: On the 12th March 2018, people in Commonwealth countries; in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Americas, the Pacific and Europe observed the Commonwealth Day event. In London, Head of the Commonwealth Queen Elizabeth II attended a multicultural and multi-faith service at Westminster Abbey with a mixture of testimonies, performances and readings from throughout the Commonwealth. The event featured a procession of Commonwealth flags, with a young flag bearer representing each of the 53 nations of the Commonwealth. As well as this, attendees were treated to musical performances from Ghanaian drum collective One-Drum, Ngati Ranana London Maori Club, Portsmouth Gospel Choir, and British musician Liam Payne. Spoken reflections were given by award-winning spoken word artist Jaspreet Kaur, and Dr Andrew Bastawrous, Co-Founder and CEO of Peek Vision. I had the opportunity of interacting with several dignitaries, including taking a selfie with Jeremy Corbyn; leader of the labour party. Although I am not currently inclined to politics, my interaction with Jeremy Corbyn was very insightful that I am tempted to reconsider. Overall, it was a one in a lifetime experience, in which I enjoyed very much.

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