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Births: Andrew Jackson, seventh US President, 1767; Dame Madge Kendall, actress, 1849; Isabella Augusta, Lady Gregory, playwright and a founder of the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, 1852; Leslie Stuart (Thomas Augustine Barrett), popular composer ('Lily of Laguna'), 1864; George Brent (George Brendan Nolan), actor, 1904.

Deaths: Gaius Julius Caesar, assassinated 44 BC; Sir Joseph William Bazalgette, engineer, 1891; Sir Henry Bessemer, engineer, 1898; Aristotle Onassis, shipping magnate, 1975; Dame Rebecca West (Cicely Isobel Fairfield), author, 1983.

On this day: Columbus returned to Spain after his first voyage to America, 1493; an attempt was made by Irish- Americans to blow up the offices of the Times, 1883; the first 11-a-side cricket Test Match was played, Australia v England, at Sydney, 1876; the London department store Selfridges opened, 1909; Nicholas II, Tsar of Russia, abdicated, 1917; the German army invaded Bohemia and Moravia (Czechoslovakia), 1939.

Today is the Feast Day of St Clement Mary Hofbauer, St Longinus, St Louise de Marillac, St Lucretia or Leocritia, St Matrona and St Zachary, pope.

Stephen Milligan

A service of thanksgiving for the life and work of Mr Stephen Milligan MP will be held in St Margaret's Church, Westminster Abbey, London SW1, at noon on Wednesday 13 April. Those wishing to attend are invited to apply for tickets to The Assistant Receiver General (Protocol), Room 13, The Chapter Office, 20 Dean's Yard, Westminster Abbey, London SW1P 3PA, enclosing a stamped addressed envelope. Tickets will be posted on 30 March. All are welcome to apply for tickets.

Commonwealth Day Observance

The Queen and the Prince of Wales attended the multi-faith Commonwealth Day Observance held yesterday at Westminster Abbey, London SW1. The Commonwealth Secretary-General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, read the Commonwealth Day Message from the Queen on the theme 'Sport in the Commonwealth'. The Prime Minister was represented by Baroness Chalker of Wallasey and the Foreign Secretary by Mr Mark Elliott. The Leader of the Opposition was represented by Mrs Margaret Beckett. The Minister for Sport, Mr Iain Sproat, and Dr Jack Cunningham, Labour spokesman on Foreign Affairs, also attended.

A procession of 50 flags of the Commonwealth was borne by nationals of the member countries. The Queen's Baton was carried by three athletes: from Canada, Mr Michael Smith, Commonwealth decathlon champion; from Britain, Mr Eamonn Martin, Commonwealth 10,000 metres champion, and Miss Karen Pickering, world short-course champion in 200 metres freestyle swimming.

The Dean of Westminster, the Very Rev Michael Mayne, aided by Canon Vincent Berry, representing the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, officiated. Readings were given by Professor Dr MA Al-Marsafy, of the Islamic Cultural Centre and London Central Mosque, Rabbi Dr John Rayner, representing the Jewish community, Professor Harmindar Singh, Secretary of the Sikh Divine Fellowship, The Ven Dr Pandith M. Vajiragnana, Head of the London Buddhist Vihara, The Rev Swami Dayatmananda, of the Ramakrishna Vedanta Centre, and the Rev Dr John Newton, Moderator of the Free Church Federal Council. The Rev Stanley Hood, representing the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, introduced the Meditation. The Prayer for Peace was read by Ms Suzanne Dando, Mr Peter Winterbottom, Miss Karen Smithies, and Mr Glenn Hoddle. Music was provided by the Melodian Steel Orchestra and Dilshad Billimoria, and singing by the choirboys of Westminster Abbey and the Zemel Choir.

Among others present were:

Mrs Emeka Anyaoku; Mrs Mark Elliott; Mr Lionel Beckett.

Lord Tordoff (representing the Leader of the Liberal Democrats); The Lord Mayor of Westminster, Mrs Jenny Bianco, and Mr Anthony Bianco; The Lord Mayor of London, Mr Paul Newall, and Mrs Newall; Rabbi Dr Julian Jacobs (representing the Chief Rabbi); Archbishop Gregorios of Thyateira and Great Britain; Commissioner Dinsdale Pender (Salvation Army) and Mrs Commissioner Pender; Mr Natubhai Shah (Jainism); Mr RK Dalal (Zoroastrianism); Mr Hugh Adamson (Bahai); Prebendary Austen Williams (Anglican); Sir Peter Marshall, Chairman of the Joint Commonwealth Societies' Council, and Lady Marshall; Mr John Vereker, Permanent Secretary for Overseas Development, and Mrs Vereker; Sir David Gillmore, Permanent Under-Secretary of State and Head of the Diplomatic Corps, and Lady Gillmore; Vice-Admiral Sir James Weatherall, Marshal of the Diplomatic Corps, and Lady Weatherall; Sir Anthony Siaguru, Commonwealth Deputy Secretary- General (Political), and Lady Siaguru; The Hon Sir Humphrey Maud, Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General (Economic and Social Affairs), and Lady Maud; Mr Ewan Hare, Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General (Development Co-operation), and Mrs Hare; Sir Oliver Forster, Chairman of Commonwealth Trust and the Royal Commonwealth Society; Mr Peter McEntee, Chairman of the Royal Over-Seas League, and Mrs McEntee; Baroness Brigstocke, Chairman of the English-Speaking Union; Mr Colin Webber, Acting Chairman of the Victoria League for Commonwealth Friendship, and Mrs Webber; Mr A de O. Sales, Chairman of the Commonwealth Games Federation; Mr George Heller, President of the Victoria Commonwealth Games Society; The Hon Robin Blencoe, Provincial Minister for Sport for British Columbia; Sir Roger Bannister.