If you have a story call our newsdesk on 01722 426511 or email us. To advertise call 01722 426500.
Queen to sign equal rights charter
The Queen is to sign a new charter backing equal rights for women and gay people in every Commonwealth nation.
In a special ceremony to mark Commonwealth Day, she will endorse the document which includes the core values - from human rights to the rule of law - that leaders have committed to upholding.
The Commonwealth Charter declares: "We are implacably opposed to all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race, colour, creed, political belief or other grounds."
The words "other grounds" are being seen as including sexuality.
However, there was criticism from some human rights campaigners who said the charter appeared not to include any specific commitment to equality for gay people.
The Queen is expected to sign the agreement at London's Marlborough House, the Pall Mall headquarters of the Commonwealth Secretariat.
In a pre-recorded speech, the monarch will say the values of the new charter have "special emphasis" on including everyone in striving for a better future. She will say: "Ambition and curiosity open new avenues of opportunity. That is what lies at the heart of our Commonwealth approach: individuals and communities finding ways to strive together to create a better future that is beneficial for all.
She will add: "Our shared values of peace, democracy, development, justice and human rights - which are found in our new Commonwealth Charter - mean that we place special emphasis on including everyone in this goal, especially those who are vulnerable."
The charter, agreed by all Commonwealth heads of government last December, will also endorse new legislation ending discrimination against women in the line of succession to the British throne. The Government is introducing new legislation ending discrimination against women in the line of succession to the British throne. The measure will mean that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's first baby can succeed to the throne, regardless of whether the child is a girl or a boy.
The Succession to the Crown Bill will also end the ban on anyone in the line of succession marrying a Roman Catholic.