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The Prince of Wales celebrates the British Asian Trust's 5th Anniversary

11th February 2013

The Prince greets Mukesh Ambani, the new chair of India Advisory Council for the BAT.

The Prince greets Mukesh Ambani, the new chair of India Advisory Council for the BAT.

The Prince of Wales welcomed guests to Windsor Castle tonight to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the British Asian Trust and was praised for his compassion, warmth and good sense of humour - by one of the country's top comedians.

His Royal Highness held a dinner in a flower-filled Waterloo Chamber in the castle for supporters of the trust which has touched the lives of a million people affected by poverty in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Dressed in a suit with red sleeves and a red collar, The Prince mingled with guests including trust ambassadors comedian Sanjeev Bhaskar, actress Laila Rouass, EastEnders star Nitin Ganatra, as well as former tennis star Boris Becker.

Founded in 2007 by British Asian business leaders at the suggestion of Charles, the trust aims to change the lives of poor people in south Asia through access to education, health and livelihoods.

Bhaskar, in a speech made after His Royal Highness, joked: "It's not customary for the warm-up man to appear after the headline act."

Earlier in the evening, Bhaskar praised The Prince for his work with the trust, and expressed his fondness for him as an individual. "The first time I met him I thought he would be slightly other-worldly," he said. "He's genuine, he's warm. He's a man of conviction and he's a man of humour.

"I found him incredibly compassionate and immensely understanding." Bhaskar said both The Prince's Trust and the British Asian Trust "don't give handouts, they give hand-ups".

The star of The Kumars at No 42 said the British Asian Trust was conceived during a chat around a table and started off as just a "fledgling idea", before becoming an organisation that changed hundreds of thousands of lives. Bhaskar said The Prince was "hands on" with the charity, and added while people may believe the royals did not connect to society, His Royal Highness was "very much aware and wants to be aware".

 

The Prince of Wales speaks at a reception and dinner for the British Asian Trust at Windsor Castle, Berkshire.

The Prince of Wales speaks at a reception and dinner for the British Asian Trust at Windsor Castle, Berkshire.

In his pre-dinner speech, The Prince thanked his guests for their support of the British Asian Trust and said he had a "particular affection and interest for that part of the world". "I've come across so many fascinating examples of really worthwhile activities carried out by so many organisations," he said about his travels in the area. "We are incredibly lucky to have such important and supportive people."

Speaking about the work of the trust in future, he said: "In the next five years, we should hope to do more and on a larger scale - with a particular focus on women and girls, together with support for improving and caring for the natural environment in the region."

The Prince said he hoped the trust would help empower future generations, who could, in turn, facilitate long-term improvement in south Asia's health and prosperity.

Rouass, who was at the celebration with her snooker player fiance Ronnie O'Sullivan, said The Prince's support for the trust was so important. "He puts it on the global market. It's Prince Charles - everyone knows who he is," she said.

Rouass said she spent five years living in India and added: "I done a lot for Mother Theresa's orphanages - I've got a personal connection to that part of the world."

Perhaps one of the evening's most humorous moments was when The Prince met Becker and the pair joked about the German tennis player being at an event celebrating a British Asian organisation.

During the evening, Mukesh Ambani - managing director and chairman of Reliance Industries, the largest private sector firm in India - was named chairman of the India Advisory Council within the trust.

He said he was "greatly honoured" and added: "It is a privilege to be working with an organisation that understands the importance of genuine impact and sustainability."

Invited to take the role of Chair by The Prince of Wales, Mr. Ambani joins the likes of Arif Naqvi, founder and CEO of Abraaj Capital and Chair of the Trust’s Pakistan Advisory Council, HE Dr. Chris Nonis Chair (Designate) of the Trust’s Sri Lankan Advisory Council and Tom Singh OBE, founder of New Look Fashion and Chair of the Trust’s UK Advisory Council.

A speech by The Prince of Wales at the British Asian Trust's 5th Anniversary, Windsor Castle

Published on 12th February 2013

Ladies and Gentlemen, can I just welcome you all to Windsor Castle this evening and say what a joy it is to see so many of you here. Quite a lot of you, I suspect, were here last year so I’m very worried and very anxious that what I say may be not entirely new to quite a lot of you so you must forgive me if possibly I may repeat myself.

I’m also slightly anxious because the last time you were here I have a ghastly feeling that I bored the lady who was sitting next to me to death during dinner, who then collapsed but anyway let’s hope tonight I’ve improved my technique substantially.

But it is so good to see you all and I’m hugely grateful to you for making such an effort to come here because I know many of you have come from all over the world, have flown in from Dubai or Bangladesh, and it is incredibly good of you to take such trouble. 

As I think I said last year I’m one of those people of course who was brought up surrounded by so many objects and pictures and stories about the sub-continent and about South Asia. So perhaps you can imagine why I’ve developed such an interest going back such a long way. I happen to have a particular affection and interest in that part of the world and indeed, as far as I’m concerned, it has been remarkable how many people have come from that part of the world and established themselves here and have contributed so much to the life in this country and made it a huge success in so many ways and are a very important part of our country- all the British Asia ...

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