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Remarks by Simon Martin, Deputy Private Secretary to TRH on Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, on the upcoming tour to India, Sri Lanka and The Prince representing Her Majesty The Queen at the 2013 CHOGM

Published on 16th October 2013

We are announcing this morning that TRH will be making a nine day visit to India from 6th 14th November, which is His Royal Highness' 65th birthday, then moving on that day to Sri Lanka from 14th 16th November where The Prince will represent Her Majesty The Queen at the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).

Starting with India, this will be The Prince of Wales's seventh, and The Duchess of Cornwall's third official visit to the country on behalf of the British Government. This highlights the importance of India both to Their Royal Highnesses personal and to the British Government. Their last visit was in 2010, when The Prince attended the opening of the Commonwealth Games in Delhi on behalf of The Queen. Their visit before then was in 2006.

The frequency of these visits reflects the importance the British Government attaches its relationship with India, as I'm sure you don’t need me to tell you has one of the world's fastest growing economies and also the Commonwealth's most populous country. This will be Their Royal Highnesses' most extensive visit to India to date. They will carry out engagements in Dehradun, New Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Kochi. Three of these cities are places that Their Royal Highnesses have not previously visited officially.

In terms of key themes, they will undertake a broad range of engagements to promoting the very strong and growing UK-India partnership in many areas including conservation, education, women's empowerment and training. They will also have the opportunity to celebrate India's religious diversity, creativity, family ties between our two countries as well as emphasising strong military and business links.

The visit as a whole is going to celebrate the extraordinary breadth and depth of the UK-India partnership. I might just mention some of the particular highlights, which will include The Prince making an off-road trip into an "elephant corridor" in Kerala, and The Duchess' visit to the prestigious Doon School in Dehradun.

They will be welcomed jointly and see training underway at India's equivalent of Sandhurst and both Their Royal Highnesses will attend a gala dinner in Mumbai with Bollywood stars. There will be a number of visits to charitable initiatives in both India and Sri Lanka. Some of these are supported by The Prince of Wales's British Asian Trust, established by The Prince in 2007. As you may well know, it funds projects in four South Asian countries; India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. On Sunday 10th November Their Royal Highnesses will mark Remembrance Sunday while in India.

As you would expect, the programme also includes receptions in a number of places where Their Royal Highnesses will be able to meet larger numbers of guests. There will be official calls on senior members of the Indian Government in Delhi, and other meetings with some of India's most prominent business leaders and senior State representatives.

For the Sri Lanka part of the tour, as announced by Buckingham Palace on 7th May this year, The Prince will officially represent Her Majesty The Queen at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo. This is the third time The Prince has been to a CHOGM, most recently in Uganda in 2007 and prior to that in Edinburgh in 1997.

As you would expect, The Prince's programme will very much follow the format previously undertaken by Her Majesty as Head of the Commonwealth. This will include both Their Royal Highnesses attending the official opening ceremony and also a dinner on the 15th November, which will be hosted by The Prince, for Commonwealth Government Heads of Government present.

The Prince is expected to make speeches at both of these events. In addition, he will hold a small number of meetings with Commonwealth Heads and others around the CHOGM.

While in Sri Lanka, The Prince and The Duchess will also carry out a programme of official engagements which will include, for example, a visit to a tea estate, mental health initiative for The Prince, and The Duchess will be undertaking engagements related to her core interests including supporting the victims of rape and sexual assault and promoting literacy. This will be The Duchess' first official visit to Sri Lanka. The Prince last visited in 2005 in the aftermath of the Boxing Day tsunami. His previous visit before then was in 1998 celebrating Sri Lanka's 50th anniversary of Independence.

If I may, I would like to highlight a couple things about The Prince's wider relationship with the Commonwealth given the particular nature of this visit. The Prince of Wales has been an active supporter of the Commonwealth for well over 40 years. Indeed his first visits to Commonwealth countries take him back to his school days. Together with The Duchess of Cornwall, His Royal Highness shows his support through official visits like these, but also through many engagements with Commonwealth countries, their representatives in this country, through their military links, charitable activities and indeed other special events where The Prince has represented The Queen including the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi in 2010.

Since 1969, The Prince has visited 33 Commonwealth countries, many of them more than once. Most recently, last year, The Prince and The Duchess made official visits on behalf of The Queen to Papua New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

The Prince is passionate, as you know, about helping the people of the Commonwealth through his charities. He's been able to support organizations working in a number of areas including opportunity and enterprise, education, the built environment and responsible business across many Commonwealth countries. You'll see on the press release we included a quote from the speech The Prince made to The University of the West Indies in Trinidad in 2000 titled 'The Commonwealth in The New Millennium'.

The Prince then said: “I have long had an instinctive sense of the value of the Commonwealth. It encourages and celebrates cultural diversity and makes no attempt to homogenize.” It is very much with those thoughts in mind that he will be attending CHOGM on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen.