The Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS) is a network of individuals and organisations committed to improving the lives and prospects of Commonwealth citizens across the world. Through youth empowerment, education and high-level advocacy, the Society champions the importance of literacy, equality and inclusion, the environment and connected communities across the Commonwealth’s 56 member nations.
The RCS’s unique position within the Commonwealth family allows it to play a pivotal role in convening and connecting the Commonwealth’s political and diplomatic representatives, civil society, business, and youth leaders, on a wide range of issues as well as to deliver highlights of the Commonwealth calendar, such as the annual Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey and the High Commissioners’ Banquet at Guildhall.
Founded in 1868, the RCS is non-partisan, independent of governments and relies on public generosity to achieve its mission.
Our 2020-2025 Strategic Plan outlines how we will focus on four impactful areas: literacy, equality and inclusion, the environment and connected communities to best contribute to our vision: to improve the lives and prospects of all Commonwealth citizens.
Over the next five years, we will:
Act as a trusted convenor and deliver activity in four core areas: connecting communities, championing literacy, improving equality, and protecting the environment.
Develop and support youth leaders from across the Commonwealth to help deliver our work and achieve our vision of a better world.
Assist Commonwealth nations in achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 through our civil society-led programmes in education, the environment, equality and values-based community work.
Our four key areas are:
Better connected communities
Championing literacy in the Commonwealth
A more equal and inclusive Commonwealth
A greener Commonwealth
Find out more about how we aim to achieve these aims and our goals for the next five years.
On 26 June 1868, a group of individuals in London established a ‘literary and scientific body’ dedicated to the greater understanding of what were then British colonies. A year later, it was granted a Royal Charter from Queen Victoria. In the early decades of the twentieth century, the Royal Commonwealth Society became increasingly progressive, admitting women as members from 1922, and encouraging a young and diverse membership.
In the latter half of the twentieth century, the Society became a centre for the exchange of ideas and provided a platform for a number of African leaders in their drive to defeat apartheid. These included Ghana’s first Prime Minister, Kwame Nkrumah in 1957, Oliver Tambo, Thabo Mbeki, Chief Buthelezi and Desmond Tutu in the 1980s and Nelson Mandela in 1990.
Over the years, the role of the Society has evolved to meet the changing nature of the Commonwealth celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2018 and announcing Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall as inaugural Vice-Patron. Through youth empowerment, education and advocacy, the RCS champions literacy, equality and inclusion, the environment and connected communities.
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