London: King Charles III, Britain’s new monarch who ascended to the throne on the death of his mother Queen Elizabeth II, has a strong connection with India and its age-old traditions of Yoga and Ayurveda.
The 73-year-old King, who has made several visits to India as the Prince of Wales over the years, has focussed many of his charitable efforts on India through his British Asian Trust – founded by him in 2007 to tackle poverty and hardship in South Asia.
The royal spoke of his “great love for India” when he launched an emergency COVID appeal last year and helped raise millions during India’s severe pandemic wave.
“Like many others, I have a great love for India and have enjoyed many wonderful visits to the country. Indian aid and ingenuity has been a support to other countries throughout this immensely difficult time. As India has helped others, so now must we help India,” he said at the time.
It was in the wake of Covid that he reflected upon the healing and therapeutic power of Yoga, which he described as an “accessible practice” that helps manage stress.
“This pandemic has emphasised the importance of preparedness, resilience and the need for an approach which addresses the health and welfare of the whole person as part of society, and which does not merely focus on the symptoms alone,” he said, in a recorded video message for a virtual healthcare event called Wellness After Covid in May last year.
“As part of that approach, therapeutic, evidenced-informed yoga can contribute to health and healing. By its very nature, Yoga is an accessible practice which provides practitioners with ways to manage stress, build resilience and promote healing,” he said.
Back in April 2018, he hosted Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Science Museum in London to launch a new Ayurvedic Centre of Excellence, aimed at creating a first-of-its-kind global network for evidence-based research on Yoga and Ayurveda. His wife Camilla, now the Queen Consort, is also believed to practice Yoga.
As the Prince of Wales, Charles has been a very vocal supporter of causes related to the environment and has been an ardent voice against the ravages of climate change. He has spoken regularly about India’s important role in meeting the global climate action targets.
“With India’s global reach and robust private sector, I believe there are some key ways we can work together to accelerate our efforts and build a more sustainable future. Firstly, we need to focus on accelerating the flow of private capital to support the transition,” he said in an address to the India Global Forum (IGF) in July last year.
“I know that renewable energy, particularly solar power, is rapidly gaining ground in India and is an excellent example to the rest of the world,” he said.
The royal is also focussed on natural farming techniques and has campaigned for a clear set of “global farm metrics” to create sustainable supply chains.
“With agriculture being so critical to the Indian economy, there is a real opportunity to explore how such metrics could support the lives and livelihoods of farmers in India as well as wider supply chains and markets,” he said in his message at the IGF summit.
“With India being a global centre of technology and innovation, combined with a deep connection to nature and harmony, you have an absolutely vital role to play in this effort. Particularly, in view of India’s wealth of entrepreneurial talent,” he added.
With his accession to the British throne, Charles has also become Head of the Commonwealth, an association of 56 independent countries including India and 2.4 billion people. For 14 of these countries, as well as the UK, the King is the Head of State.
These countries, known as the Commonwealth realms, are: Australia, Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, Papua New Guinea, St Christopher and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, New Zealand, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu.
As monarch, King Charles III marks a new royal chapter for the UK with many changes set to take place over the course of the days and weeks ahead. For the first time since 1952, the national anthem will be played with the words “God Save the King” and new coinage will now bear his insignia.
The symbolic high point of his accession will be the coronation when Charles is formally crowned. Due to the lengthy preparations required, the coronation is not likely to happen any time soon.
Charles is the oldest and longest-serving heir-apparent in British history. He will also be the oldest person to become King in British history.
Queen Elizabeth II, the UK’s longest-serving monarch, died on Thursday at Balmoral Castle in Scotland after reigning for 70 years. She was 96.