Ladies and Gentlemen I must say I am so glad you are able to gather here in this remarkable gallery, The Raphael Gallery, because apart from anything else it gives me an opportunity just to check-up that the V&A is looking after the Raphael Cartoons - which actually belong to The Royal Collection but are on loan - just to make sure they have got them in the right place and are caring for them!
And I also wanted to say how enormously grateful I am to Manoj for his extraordinarily kind words, and without Manoj's unbelievable efforts and Hitan Mehta's extraordinary commitment we would never have reached this stage. So I owe both of them an enormous debt of gratitude for their extraordinary energy and ability to translate ideas into action.
But if I do say so, both my wife and I had the most wonderful visit to India and Sri Lanka in November. And again, if I may say so, there's nothing more enjoyable than spending your birthday in somewhere like India and Sri Lanka, because I had more birthday cakes than you ever believe possible! Everywhere I went! Several in Kerala, several more in Sri Lanka and everybody is so much nicer to you - I promise you - when you are away!
I also remember trying to visit one of the jungle reserves in Kerala where my brother in law Mark Shand wanted to show me the work he's been doing on elephant corridors, but unfortunately 2000 Indian police got there before I did, and so as a result all I saw was three jungle fowl and one tethered cow!
So ladies and gentlemen it so special to see so many of you here this evening in this magnificent museum in what has been a remarkable year since I last saw some of you at Windsor Castle last year. From the outset, perhaps I could just thank my Trustees and Ambassadors, and all of my supporters present for making this evening possible.
Since we were last together, at least quite a lot of us, my Mehabooba and I - such a good word Mehabooba, it sort of rolls off the tongue in a very happy and satisfactory way! Anyway my Mehabooba and I have been able to visit India and Sri Lanka and to parts that I have never been to before, but also this time to see some of the remarkable projects that my British Asian Trust has funded thanks of course ladies and gentlemen, to your generous support.
We managed for instance to see the Katha Lab School in Delhi and the Mumbai Mobile CrÃ¨ches and it was wonderfully encouraging to hear from supporters, business leaders, beneficiaries and charity leaders about the impact that my British Asian Trust is having. It was deeply moving and heartening to see that what was an idea only a short six years ago is truly making a difference to the lives of over 1 million disadvantaged people in the region. But in all this we have been helped immeasurably by the truly remarkable, combined efforts, as I way saying of both Manoj Badale and Hitan Mehta, so without their expertise we would have got nowhere.
I can quite honestly say that the Trust has really now come of age and the relevance of supporting those in need in the region is still just as critical, as the scale of the issues are immense. The key reason that we have been able to make such rapid progress in such a short space of time is thanks to the support of so many of you - the British Asian Diaspora. There is no doubt that you have made a tremendous difference to the diverse and strong fabric of the United Kingdom, whether it is in the fields of business, television, radio, music, sport or food. Tom Singh of New Look Fashion, Mr Lakshmi Mittal, D.J. Nihal in the field of music, ‘Naughty Boy’ who is performing later tonight - and I am proud to say was started off by my Prince's Trust, my good friends, Sanjeev Bhaskar and Meera Syal, are all wonderful examples. Yet you have not stopped there. Indeed, you have built on your contributions to the U.K. to make a difference across South Asia by contributing to my Trust.
But I have always believed that it is not just the British Asian community who could be supporting this work. From what I know, underscored by the Tour we made to the region, it is critically important that we work in closer collaboration with in-country supporters to help us leverage the funding and assistance required to support those most in need. I am therefore most grateful to Mukesh Ambani, the Tata Group, the Kanwars, Arif Naqvi, Chris Nonis and the many others who are so committed to helping us grow this funding, not only to address, as we have for our first six years, challenges to health, education and livelihoods but to become even more ambitious and to promote also conservation, sustainable urbanism and greater support for rural communities.
Now I'm afraid I am someone who can't help believing that people of common purpose and good spirit can achieve so much more when they work together. And so I should therefore like all of us the British Asian community, British-based companies, philanthropists in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka and my other charities, such as The Prince’s Trust, my Foundation for Building Community and International Sustainability Unit, to come together to establish a new Prince's Charitable Foundation for South Asia. I see this Foundation, once established, as an opportunity to build on our achievements to find sustainable solutions to a wider set of challenges, scaling up the already excellent work going on at the local level which I saw in India in November.
I know that this evening you will be able to see and meet a few of the beneficiaries of my Trust’s work. With the next phase of our work, the basic principle remains unchanged - helping the most disadvantaged gain a hand-up rather than a hand-out by identifying, developing and funding some wonderful solutions such as the Katha Lab School, the work of leaders like Vandana Shiva in supporting rural communities, or efforts to strengthen education in rural areas, such as those conducted by partners like Developments in Literacy in Pakistan or Educate Girls in India.
I hope that this will be the beginning of the next stage of the journey for the Trust and that if you aren't too exhausted by now that you will continue helping with support and assistance to those most in need so that we can leave the world in a better state for our children and now that I am a grandfather, our grandchildren.
So whatever the case ladies and gentlemen, I am enormously grateful to you all for you wonderful generosity and interest and can only pray I do hope that you have a thoroughly enjoyable and special evening.