The British Royal couple, His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, are currently busy touring India. Nine days long in duration and the third official trip taken together, comes with more than one powerful message.
Firstly, the Prince’s message is of encouraging the wealthy to take responsibility towards India’s deprived and struggling; secondly, the Prince’s charity and message in turn symbolizes the definite, positive turning point that has clearly been reached between the two countries sharing a bitter and controversial colonial past.
Social change is being encouraged, accelerated and made reality by Prince Charles and his other half – or as he charmingly referred to her at a charity reception, his “Mehbooba”, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall through the “British Asian Trust”.
Founded in 2007 by a group of British Asian Business leaders, at the suggestion of none other than the Prince himself, the “British Asian Trust” is one of the twenty of the Princes charities.
Aiming to encourage the wealthiest South Asian tycoons to contribute towards regenerating the country’s countless struggling cities, the “British Asian Trust” was hosted a reception by the world’s wealthiest Indian and chairman of “Reliance”, Mukesh Ambani and Ratan Tata. Tata’s family-trust company owns Jaguar, Land Rover and Corus Steel.
The reception took place at the prestigious Oberoi Hotel in Mumbai, on Saturday the 9th of November. Joining the reception were Bollywood stars Kajol and Ajay Devgn who dined with the Royal couple alongside others, including the prominent Business woman Nita Ambani and Bollywood comedy star Boman Irani.
In order to assure the success of the charity, Trust chairman Manoj Badale, expressed that the trust is launching a new Indian advisory group to promote new schemes to improve India’s “environmental protection and skills development”.
Prince Charles highlighted the outstanding, life transforming work of two charities at the event in particular, whilst encouraging that India and Britain could benefit one another through charity work.
The Prince pointed out the “Asha Sadan refuge for children” and the BT-sponsored “Katha School in Govindpuri” – Delhi’s largest slum.
Through these two projects, females are not just taught skills aiming at earning higher salaries, but their children are benefiting academically by achieving some of the highest exam scores throughout the Indian education system.
The Prince suggested that Britain and India could benefit one another through charity work and he emphasized the power in unity. The Prince encouraged those in a position to contribute, to duly do so:
…“Maybe we might just think about the added value of working together in meeting the great challenges you face here.”
Practicing what they preach, Prince Charles and Duchess of Cornwall respectively visited a mangrove forest that protects the city from flooding and the “Asha Sadan” children’s home in Mumbai before the evening reception.
Highlighting an emotionally tender moment at “Asha Sadan”, it is reported that the Duchess was moved to tears where she stated:
“They are just such tragic stories, you cannot believe,” she added, “You just want to scoop them all up in your arms and take them home.”
Emphasizing the strength of these children, regardless of the hardships they have survived and are surviving, the fun filled children prepared a traditional song and dance for the Duchess which she enjoyed par taking in.
A beauty in more ways than one, the Duchess dazzled her admirers as she graced the reception dressed in mint green Kurta pyjamas, designed by British designer Anna Valentine.
Amongst the glamorous guests, the Prince was not shy of mentioning the painful colonial past shared between the two countries –a British Raj that ended with much bloodshed through the Partition of India in 1947; the consequences of which, still affect India, Pakistan and conflict rife Kashmir.
The Prince reminded the audience that Lord Mountbatten, the controversial last viceroy of India, accused by some of “rushing” the Partition process and making Partition inevitable, was his uncle.
Mountbatten was also (controversially) a dear friend of Nehru- India’s first Prime Minister and a key player towards Indian Independence. This time, Mountbatten is accused by some of favoring Nehru’s Congress party over Jinnah’s Muslim League: hence igniting conflict.
As the Prince emphasized the special bond he shares with India, he jokingly referred to the Royal Norfolk Sandringham home as full of Indian antiques and artifacts. He added that there were so many Indian antiques and artifacts that they were enough to “start a small war.”
However, the war between Britain and India is not only long over but incentives such as the Princes trust are clearly making the two countries become positively closer.
Whatever South Asians- or indeed the British, may still feel about the controversial British colonial past (or Lord Mountbatten), the Royal Couple’s tour of India places significant emphasis on the turning point that both countries have reached since the British Raj ended in 1947.
On another note, hopefully the wealthy tycoons of India will take heed of the Prince’s Trust. Hopefully the rich will realise the potential that their wealth holds and choose to use it for the much needed betterment of India’s people: Hence creating a brighter, stronger and fairer India.
A visit to the Parmarth Niketan Temple
Outside the Akshardham Hindu temple
Trip to Southern India
Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall at St John the Evangelist Church in Mumbai
Prince Charles and Camilla at the Indian Military Academy