As usual with The Prince of Wales, Wednesday 3rd April was a day full to the brim with engagements. His morning started off with a trip to the northwest part of the country, to enjoy a visit to the British Muslim Heritage Centre in Manchester, as they celebrate their 10 year anniversary.
Aiming to bridge the gap between both Muslim and non-Muslim groups, and trying to create a cohesive body of members, the British Muslim Heritage Centre works to inspire all communities to embrace diversity. Initially, the centre was started as a place that would help in the provision of not only spiritual but educational, cultural and social needs of the community. It was the hope of the centre to entice the younger generation into coming together as a Muslim society, regardless of their individual backgrounds.
Greeted by a group of schoolchildren upon his arrival, the Prince was then taken on a tour of the facilities. Charles had the opportunity to meet with a number of members from the Muslim community and was keen to hear about the programme of education that is offered by the centre, as well as their different community initiatives.
Additionally, Prince Charles chatted with some of the trustees, community groups and a few of the workers and representatives from local businesses in the area. The heir to the throne has spent many years hoping to encourage a greater understanding between all kinds of religions and is a huge supporter of the importance of strengthening inter-faith dialogue between all people.
Prince Charles expressed: “I’ve been so impressed by all the different initiatives and projects you run here and the difference you are making, in terms of all the work you are doing in the community, but also in terms of linking all the other communities together. It is obviously of huge importance, this dialogue and activity.”
“If I may say so, I just wanted to congratulate you and to say how much I admire all the work you are doing. And how important your communities are here in this country.”
The head of projects for the centre, Ashraf Ali, shared that Prince Charles seemed to be extremely interested in an exhibition about Muslims who fought for Britain in World War I, entitled, “Stories of Sacrifice”. While many may be under the impression the the conflict was mainly a European one, Britain called on its imperial allies, including men from India, Nepal, and Canada, to fight for their cause. 1.5 million Indian troops fought to defend Britain and of those, 400,000 were Muslims.
Mr. Ali also showed the royal visitor a panel of a man in a turban, who turned out to be the Prince’s great grandfather, King George V, when he was head of a Muslim cavalry regiment.
When Mr. Ali said, “I’ve got someone here, you might recognise him”, Charles proclaimed:
“I know this guy. Of course I recognise him”.
Although it is the wrong time of year for fresh honey, upon learning that Prince Charles enjoyed honey in his tea, officials at the centre were able to rustle a jar up from one of the local ladies, who was more than happy to give it to the future King as a gift.
For the first of his afternoon engagements, The Prince of Wales travelled to Wigan for a visit to the Wigan Arts Festival, held at The Old Courts. Of interest to the Royal was the restoration of the Old Courts into a community arts centre. In commemoration of the fifth anniversary of the Old Courts restoration and the opening of the festival, Prince Charles unveiled a plaque before taking in some performances in theatre, music and dance.
Exhibitions of many different kinds were also on hand for the Prince to peruse and he spent quite a lot of time chatting with numerous groups representing the local arts, culture and the community. Also, Charles conversed with many of the dignitaries who were on hand for the occasion.
Next on the Prince’s agenda was a sweet trip to Toffee Works, to help celebrate 100 years of the company making sweets. Dressed in his white hat and coat, Charles looked every bit the candy maker on his tour of the family run business, William Santus and Co Ltd. The most famous product made at the factory are the Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls.
For his final stop of the day, Prince Charles attended a couple of short variety performances at the Wigan Little Theatre. A part of the Wigan theatre scene since 1943, the Wigan Little Theatre is kept running by the many volunteers who dedicate their time and skills to theatre’s performances. Part of their motto is “Volunteers are not paid because they are worthless, but because they are priceless.”
After the performances, Charles enjoyed visiting with the many performers and volunteers from the theatre.
For his final visit of the day HRH Prince Charles came to Wigan Little Theatre to meet the dedicated volunteers who keep the theatre running and make a huge contribution to Wigan’s arts and culture. He also go to see two short performances by resident performers. @ClarenceHouse pic.twitter.com/LQVY23CLdo
— Wigan Council (@WiganCouncil) April 3, 2019