Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Charles hosts British Asians event

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall hosted a reception for members of British Indian and Sri Lankan communities at St James's Palace

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall were given good wishes today ahead of their trip to India and Sri Lanka next month.

Charles and Camilla hosted a reception for members of British Indian and Sri Lankan communities at St James's Palace.

They will make a nine-day visit to India next month before moving on to Sri Lanka, where the Prince will represent the Queen at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).

Stars attending today's event included comedian Sanjeev Bhaskar, former EastEnders actress Nina Wadia, Holby City actor Hari Dhillon and film director Gurinder Chadha.

There was also a short performance by British Asian pop star Navin Kundra, who sang three numbers including Mehbooba, a big hit in the British Asian chart.

He drew appreciative laughter from the audience when he persuaded Charles to say the Hindi word to Camilla - it means "beloved".

The 28-year-old singer, from Coventry, said afterwards: "It was amazing to perform here. It's been quite an experience."

Bhaskar, star of hit sitcom The Kumars at No. 42, said after chatting to the Duchess: "I asked her whether she wanted a food taster to come along, and she said she would let me know. I think the stress was on the no."

Wadia, who played Zainab Masood in EastEnders, and also appeared in comedy show Goodness Gracious Me, said: "The Prince asked me if I was doing any more comedy soon - we've met a couple of times before, and I think he does like my comedy work."

Asked about reports that she is to appear in the next series of I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here! Wadia said: "I'm definitely not going to the jungle. I've no idea where this story came from, it's taken me by surprise, it's not something I've ever even considered."

Dhillon said: "I think their trip may take them into the slums, to see the work of the British Asian Trust - that's where it has its greatest impact, and he takes this very seriously."

The Trust was founded in 2007 by a group of British Asian business leaders at the suggestion of the Prince.

It provides a "social fund" to support health, education and enterprise projects in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the UK.

Bend It Like Beckham film maker Chadha said: "I think this is a fantastic way for them to kick off their trip to India, and a fantastic way for us to feel that they appreciate the citizens of this country, all the citizens of this country."

The trip to India will be the royal couple's third official visit to the country together.

They will carry out engagements to promote the UK-India partnership in such areas as conservation, education, business, the empowerment of women, and training.

They will travel to Dehradun, New Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Kochi, meeting India's political, business and cultural leaders.

While in Sri Lanka, the couple will also carry out a programme of official engagements including a visit to a mental health initiative, a hospital and a tea estate.

The Prince first visited India in 1975 at the age of 26. Over the past 40 years he has visited countries in South Asia numerous times, both at the request of the Government and to represent the Queen as well as privately.

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