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King Charles to address Commonwealth Day service with pre-recorded message

King Charles will pledge to continue to serve the Commonwealth “to the best of my ability”, in a pre-recorded annual address to the family of nations during a service on Monday.

The monarch recorded a video message for Commonwealth Day, which will be marked in a Westminster Abbey service that he will not attend in person.

His wife Queen Camilla will instead lead senior royals when they gather for the service in London, followed by a reception at Commonwealth’s international headquarters.

Since his cancer diagnosis was announced on 5 February, the King has postponed all public-facing duties, but is continuing with behind-the-scenes work on his red boxes of state papers and holding some in-person meetings.

His address will highlight how “diversity” was the Commonwealth’s core “strength”, and the union of 56 member countries was a “precious source of strength, inspiration, and pride” to him.

“In recent weeks, I have been most deeply touched by your wonderfully kind and thoughtful good wishes for my health and, in return, can only continue to serve you, to the best of my ability, throughout the Commonwealth,” the King said in his video message.

He added: “My belief in our shared endeavours and in the potential of our people remains as sure and strong as it has ever been.

“I have no doubt that we will continue to support one another across the Commonwealth as, together, we continue this vital journey.”

The Prince of Wales will also attend the service with members of the royal family, but without the Princess of Wales, who is still recovering from abdominal surgery and has only been since once in public since her operation in January.

On Sunday, she released her first public message alongside a photograph of her and their three children, taken by William last week. However the photo was recalled by some photo agencies over concerns about manipulation.

Camilla and William will be accompanied by the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh, the Princess Royal, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and the Duke of Kent.

The King will say in his address how unity was essential for the family of nations.

“I cannot say often enough that it is by coming together that we create the best chances to improve our world and the lives of people everywhere,” he will say.

His remarks also recognised the 75th anniversary of the Commonwealth, established in 1949 when eight countries, Australia, Britain, Ceylon, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa and Canada, signed the Declaration of London.

The service will focus on stories of environmental resilience and marine sustainability, through performances representing the five regions of the Commonwealth.

William’s appearance at the televised service, a key part of the royal calendar, alongside Camilla, comes after he pulled out of attending the recent memorial service for his godfather, King Constantine of Greece, at the last minute, because of an undisclosed personal matter.

Camilla will afterwards attend the annual Commonwealth Day Reception at Marlborough House in London, to meet foreign ministers, UK parliamentarians and high commissioners.

Among the 2,000 guests will be Commonwealth Secretary-General Baroness Scotland, the president of Malta, foreign ministers, high commissioners, senior politicians and dignitaries from across the Commonwealth, faith leaders and schoolchildren and young people from throughout the UK.

Reflections will be given by one of the winners of William’s Earthshot Prize, Notpla, a firm which produces seaweed-based packaging.

Writer Sir Ben Okri will also read a specially commissioned poem for the 75th anniversary of the Commonwealth.

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