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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Chiara Fiorillo & Jennifer Newton

Royals set to miss Commonwealth Day service confirmed - but title error baffles fans

Westminster Abbey has published the Order of Service for today's Commonwealth Day service, confirming which members of the Royal Family will attend and those missing it this year.

The annual celebration will be King Charles 's first as Monarch, and he's set to move away from some of the traditions put in place by his late mother.

The King and Queen Camilla will lead the procession, followed by the Prince and Princess of Wales. Prince Edward, the new Duke of Edinburgh, and his wife Sophie, now the Duchess of Edinburgh, will be next before Princess Anne and Sir Tim Laurence.

However many royal fans will be disappointed to learn that Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis aren't on the list - as today is a school day.

Other members of the royal family - including Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie - are also expected to attend but will join the main congregation. It is not clear if Prince Andrew will attend the event.

The royals at a previous Commonwealth Day service in 2019 (PA)

The Order of Service has also caused some confusion as Prince Edward is listed using his old title, The Earl of Wessex. However as of last week, he's officially known as the Duke of Edinburgh after his older brother handed him their late father's title.

This year's theme is Forging a Sustainable and Peaceful Common Future - and comes at a time when Charles has experienced great turbulence in his relationship with his youngest son, Prince Harry.

Charles is now head of the Commonwealth, following in the late Queen's footsteps after she successfully lobbied for him to take on the role.

George, Charlotte and Louis aren't listed in the programme for today's Commonwealth Day service (Mark Thomas/REX/Shutterstock)

A Commonwealth flag for peace will be carried in the procession of Commonwealth members' flags to mark 2023 as Commonwealth Year of Peace.

The service will include musical performances from saxophonist Yolanda Brown, West End stars Roshani Abbey and Nuwan Hugh Perera, and the all-female Amalgamation Choir, from Cyprus.

Guests of honour among the 2,000-strong congregation will include the Commonwealth secretary-general, the prime minister of Samoa, high commissioners, senior politicians and dignitaries from across the UK and the Commonwealth.

Also attending will be athletes from the home nations who competed at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham last summer, as well as faith leaders, and more than 750 schoolchildren and young people from throughout the UK.

The service will be broadcast live on BBC One.

Prince Edward and Sophie - the new Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh (Getty Images)

Since 1977, the Commonwealth Day service has often fallen on the second Monday in March and has its roots in the British Empire.

Originally called Victoria Day, it was changed to Empire Day after Queen Victoria's death. It was introduced to foster a sense of collective identity across what is now a group of countries encompassing over two billion people.

The name of the event was changed to Commonwealth Day in 1958 and it is known as that in the present day.

The Commonwealth website says: "Commonwealth Day is an annual celebration observed by people all over the Commonwealth in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Americas, the Pacific and Europe."

The celebration is focused on the shared values of the different countries and includes a range of activities and cultural events.

King Charles at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting last year (Getty Images)

The event is a symbolic show of unity with Lady Scotland calling for nations of the Commonwealth to "stand together" in the face of widespread global uncertainty.

She said: "In an uncertain world, with multilateralism under strain, the Commonwealth shines as a beacon of hope and promise, inspiring confidence in the benefits of international cooperation and collective action.

"We celebrate the diversity that enriches us, and the similarities that enable us to work together. Our points of unity make the Commonwealth unique in our world. Drawing from the deep wells of our unique history, they enable us to face the challenges of the 21st Century with clarity, unity and purpose."

Last year, Queen Elizabeth pulled out of the Commonwealth Day service, with her son Charles - then Prince Charles - attending in her place.

Buckingham Palace said in a statement: "The Queen has asked The Prince of Wales to represent Her Majesty at the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey on Monday."

The Palace added: "After discussing the arrangements with the Royal Household, The Queen has asked The Prince of Wales to represent Her Majesty at the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey on Monday.

"The Queen will continue with other planned engagements, including in person audiences, in the week ahead.

"The Queen's Commonwealth Day message will be distributed in the usual way."

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