An Evening with Royalty (2009)

Prince Charles’s voice of moderation and understanding charmed Muslims gathered at a gala dinner organised by Islamic Relief on 17th December 2009

Prince Charles was immaculate, in a black suit and bow tie, with a navy blue silk handkerchief in a fluted arrangement emerging from his left breast pocket.

“May God bless you, Sir”, with these words the master of ceremonies at the Islamic Relief’s Gala Dinner in London to celebrate 25 years of its work acknowledged the very remarkable speech the Prince had delivered to a mainly Muslim audience of over four hundred gathered at the Grosvenor House Hotel on a bitterly cold December night.

“I cannot tell you how fascinated I have been hearing these anecdotes”, Prince Charles remarked, having sat through 25 minutes of TV newscaster Asad Ahmad’s This is your life style gallop through Islamic Relief’s history, conducting brief interviews with its activists and some of those who have been helped by the Charity’s work.

I cannot quite claim a 25-year old acquaintance with its work, but I have visited its offices three years ago my wife and I visited Pakistan where at Pattika after the terrible aftermath of the earthquake we saw how Islamic Relief was ensuring that life continued after the earthquake

were some of his words of praise for UK’s premier disaster relief charity.

The audience were looking for some insights into the attitude of the future King of England towards Muslims in Britain, and they were not disappointed: he referred to their ‘energy, dynamism and selflessness’;

‘we hear a lot about a small minority, but not enough of the many who are exemplary – that is why I am so happy and proud to be here.

The Prince also quoted from the Qur’an – if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind, giving the reference, “Maida, verse 32″. His concluding remarks were also well received:

And may there be many blessings insha Allah, over the next quarter of a century.

In an age of banned minarets and other proscriptions, the Islamic Relief event was a shot in the arm and it helped morale to know that the heir to the throne was positive about Muslims and would do his bit to overcome misunderstandings. One Dutch visitor thought it inconceivable that Queen Beatrix’s heir-apparent, Prince Willem-Alexander, would ever speak in this vein.

Perhaps not since the time of Queen Victoria, who welcomed two Indian Muslims in her entourage at Windsor – Munshi Abdul Karim and Maulvi Rafiuddin Ahmed – has there been such obvious goodwill from the House of Windsor. Let us hope it lasts. The stars of the evening included a remarkable eleven year old, Hadeel Shamlakh, who entranced the guests with three haunting songs in Arabic and English. The Prince stayed on for many of the performances, including a moving video message from a nurse in Gaza, once an orphan whose life had been transformed by help from Islamic Relief.