Hitan Mehta OBE is the Executive Director of the British Asian Trust – the charity founded in 2007 by King Charles III – then the Prince of Wales.
In this iGlobal exclusive, Mehta shares insights into the journey of this inspiring royal initiative targeted at tackling issues affecting South Asia to mark the Coronation of the new monarch over the weekend.
In 2007, a group of people came together with a vision to tackle some of the most significant issues affecting people in South Asia. That group was brought together by His Majesty King Charles III, then the Prince of Wales. Under his leadership, this small group of people from the British Asian community helped create the British Asian Trust.
Shortly after that first meeting, the then Prince of Wales brought together the India and Pakistan cricket teams at the Future Friendship Cup in Glasgow for a match that helped launch the British Asian Trust.
As the Royal Founding Patron of our charity, he said: "The British Asian Trust is able to empower local communities by offering innovative and practical solutions to social and economic problems."
It has been an extraordinary privilege to work with the then Prince of Wales, now the King, over the past 16 years. He has a genuine interest in South Asia and a deep commitment to the diaspora.
It was really reflected in Westminster Abbey with the faith procession, the presentation to the faith communities at the end and the number of people from across the United Kingdom and the world who were there. Sitting in the Abbey, I met people from all walks of life who had gone above and beyond to serve the community in its broadest sense. It was wonderful to hear such a strong emphasis on service in the ceremony and one that I know that the King has demonstrated in all the time I have been honoured to interact with him.
Over the years he has visited many of the British Asian Trust’s programmes in India and Sri Lanka. And on two occasions, we have been able to include very special birthday celebrations for him where children from the organisations we have supported shared a cake and sang happy birthday to him.
We have benefited enormously from the foresight and wisdom of His Majesty King Charles III in establishing an organisation which transforms lives across South Asia. That he continues to listen to and engage with the diaspora, and that we have so far improved the lives of more than 9 million people in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka is testament to his vision and commitment.
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In his first few months as monarch, we have seen him hosting a reception for the British Asian diaspora at Holyroodhouse in Scotland and then shortly afterwards he hosted a reception at Buckingham Palace to acknowledge the anniversary of British Asians arriving in the UK from Uganda in 1972. And only a few weeks ago, along with Her Majesty, he also visited London’s Brick Lane, a hub for the Bangladeshi community.
Long live The King!