Address: 25 Northumberland Avenue, London WC2N 5AP, UK
Tel: +44 20 7930 6733 | Fax: +44 20 7930 9705
The Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS) is an education charity working to promote international understanding, particularly among young people, through the vehicle of the modern Commonwealth. It runs a range of events, youth projects and research activities.
Founded in 1868, its home is the Commonwealth Club, a contemporary members’ club and events venue in the heart of London. The RCS has some 4,000 members in the UK and a presence in over 40 Commonwealth countries through a network of branches and societies. Incorporated under Royal Charter, the Patron of the RCS is Queen Elizabeth II.
President: Baroness Prashar CBE; Chair: Peter Kellner; Director: Dr Danny Sriskandarajah
With a remit to promote international understanding across the Commonwealth, especially among young people, the RCS boasts an impressive portfolio of charitable activities. The Young Commonwealth Competitions encourage thousands of young people to respond to global challenges through annual creative writing, film and photographic awards. The Nkabom Commonwealth Youth Leadership Programme unites 18 to 25 year-olds from across the globe in a different Commonwealth location every two years and alumni join an international, proactive network of emerging leaders. Commonwealth Youth Summits give school children across the UK a chance to learn about international issues in an interactive and meaningful forum. Playing the roles of leaders, foreign ministers or journalists, they enact a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and have the opportunity to put their views to senior members of the Commonwealth and UK Government.
The RCS hosts regular art exhibitions, highlighting the work of emerging artists from around the world. It runs public engagement projects, including most recently the Commonwealth Conversation, a global public consultation on the future of the Commonwealth. The RCS also runs series of public debates on topics of Commonwealth and international interest with high-profile speakers. In March of each year, the RCS organises the Commonwealth Day Observance held at Westminster Abbey in London and attended by HM the Queen and, in December, hosts the Commonwealth Carol Service in St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square.
The home of the RCS, the Commonwealth Club, acts as a centre for the exchange of ideas and a leading London venue for discussing subjects of Commonwealth interest. Members range from long-serving diplomats interested in international affairs to young professionals looking for a stylish central London location to work, relax and meet like-minded people. The Club’s versatile facilities can also be hired by non-members and all profits go towards funding the Society’s charitable activities.
The RCS publishes a magazine, RCS Exchange, three times a year. This contains details of upcoming events, membership information, news about the Society’s charitable projects, interviews and comment pieces on topics of Commonwealth interest. A monthly e-newsletter is also sent to members and a wider network of people interested in RCS events. An engaging website features sections on the Commonwealth Club, the membership, the society and its youth work. An Annual Review is published in March and offers an overview of the year’s activities. Occasional one-off publications are produced, including most recently a book to mark the 60th anniversary year of the Commonwealth: The Commonwealth at 60: Past, Present and Future. Individual projects, including the Young Commonwealth Competitions and Commonwealth Youth Summits, produce their own publications and resources.