Today, 9 March, is Commonwealth Day. The Head of The Commonwealth, Queen Elizabeth II now in the 69th year of her reign, will attend a special service at Westminster Abbey to commemorate the organisation which now has 54 member countries.
|The Queen and the Royal Family attend the Commonwealth Day service in 2019.|
Later in the year from 22 to 27 June, Coronavirus outbreak permitting, there will be a meeting of the heads of government of the Commonwealth sovereign states (CHOGM) in Rwanda, which was admitted to Commonwealth membership in 2009. The theme of CHOGM for 2020 is ‘The Commonwealth Delivering a Common Future Connecting Innovating Transforming’ which is rather wordy and consequently not very catchy nor memorable. The meeting will be attended by representatives of Maldives for the first time since its readmission to The Commonwealth on 1 February 2020. The planned location of the meeting is the Radisson Blu Hotel in Kigali.
It is notable that the postal service of Rwanda has not been known to release any new postage stamps since 15 November 2010 and so will probably be unlikely to issue any stamps to commemorate the holding of the meeting in Rwanda - no stamps were issued even to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the achievement of Rwanda’s independence (1 July 1962) from Belgium. Perhaps the Rwanda postal service should issue a set of stamps on 15 November 2020 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of its most recent stamp issue!
At various times it has been claimed that a number of countries have sought to be admitted to Commonwealth membership - Zimbabwe is currently seeking readmission after the late President Robert Mugabe withdrew the country from membership and South Sudan applied to join The Commonwealth after it was granted independence by Sudan in 2011 but a raging civil war there put the brakes on that application for a long time. Apart from these Surinam, Burundi, Angola, Timor Leste and the de facto independent Somaliland are all reported to have been been interested in being considered for Commonwealth membership.
The predecessors of the CHOGMs were the Imperial Conferences at which British leaders met up with the leaders of the principal colonies and dominions.
1887 - London
1894 - Ottawa, Canada
1897, 1902, 1907, 1911, 1917, 1918, 1921, 1923 - all held in London
1926 - London - ‘The Balfour Declaration’ established the Dominions as having a status equal to the that of The United Kingdom as members of ‘The British Commonwealth of Nations’
|George V with his prime ministers, London, 1926.|
1930 - London
1932 - Ottawa, Canada. Attended by The Prince Of Wales, the future Edward VIII. Four stamps linked to the Conference were released by Canada:-
1937 - London
1944 - Renamed The Commonwealth Prime Ministers Conference (until 1969) - London
1946, 1947, 1949, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1964, 1965 - all held in London. No associated stamp issues.
10 - 12 January 1966 - Lagos, Nigeria. Special Conference to discuss the crisis over Rhodesia. One stamp was issued by Nigeria (overprint on definitive)
1966 (6 - 15 September) and 1969 - London - no associated stamp issues
From 1971 the meetings were known as the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings, which became shortened to CHOGMs.
1971 - Singapore. A set of 4 stamps was issued. There were then 31 member states which attended.
1973 - Ottawa, Canada - 2 stamps depicting Queen Elizabeth II.
1975 - Jamaica. 4 stamps.
1977 - United Kingdom. 1 stamp.
1979 - Zambia. 4 stamps.
1981 - Australia. 2 stamps.
1983 - India. 2 stamps.
1985 - Bahamas. 2 stamps.
1986 - United Kingdom. No stamps. This was a special meeting of CHOGM called for leaders to discuss the report by the Eminent Persons Group on sanctions against South Africa in response to its Apartheid policies.
1987 - Canada. 1 stamp.
1989 - Malaysia. 3 stamps.
1991 - Zimbabwe. 6 stamps.
1993 - Cyprus. 2 stamps.
1995 - New Zealand. 2 stamps.
1997 - United Kingdom (Scotland). No stamps. 1 definitive booklet with a large attached label
1999 - South Africa. No stamps.
2002 - New Zealand. No stamps.
2003 - Nigeria. 2 stamps.
2005 - Malta. 4 miniature sheets.
2007 - Uganda. 4 stamps.
2009 - Trinidad And Tobago. 5 stamps and 1 miniature sheet.
2011 - Australia (Perth). 1 stamp
2013 - Sri Lanka - 2 stamps and 1 miniature sheet.
2015 - Malta. 1 miniature sheet.
2018 - United Kingdom. No stamps. Instead Royal Mail issued stamps featuring Game of Thrones, Harry Potter and Dad’s Army. Royal Mail did commemorate the event in a half-hearted manner by using a special postmark for a limited period.
2020 - Rwanda.
It is expected that the 2022 CHOGM will be held in Samoa.
Happy Commonwealth Day!