Queen Elizabeth II to host spectacular UK-India Year of Culture launch at Buckingham Palace
Queen Elizabeth II will host a spectacular UK-India Year of Culture launch at Buckingham Palace to strengthen the special cultural partnership between the two countries. The Palace had officially announced the date of the reception, February 27 in the monarch’s engagements’ calendar: “Her Majesty The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh will give a reception to mark the launch of the UK India Year of Culture 2017.”
90-year-old Queen Elizabeth II is the world’s longest reigning sovereign and has become the first British monarch to reach a Sapphire Jubilee, with 65 years on the throne.
UK’s senior-most Indian-origin minister, Priti Patel, who will be among the key Cabinet ministers at the event, described it as a real demonstration of the strong ties between the two countries.
The reception is expected to attract hundreds of guests from across various fields in the UK and India, including a senior Cabinet minister from the Indian side.
The Conservative party MP, who has completed six months in office as minister in the Department for International Development (DfID), described her last few months in the post as a “humbling and rewarding” experience. She has been on several visits to war-torn regions and has just returned from Lebanon and Jordan, countries at the heart of the Syrian refugee crisis.
“The UK has been at the forefront of dealing with the crisis. We have committed 2.3 billion pounds since the start of this conflict. It is our biggest ever response to humanitarian crisis and makes us the second-largest bilateral humanitarian donor. We have helped to get over 250,000 Syrian children into schools and get them educated.”
She sees her job as making sure the international aid system “does what it says on the tin” and delivers for the world’s poorest.
She explains: “The British public should be proud and feel confident in the way in which their development system and aid is spent. I am not afraid to stop things that I think don’t work in our national interest or may not fit with our strategic priorities in Britain post-Brexit.”
“I want to demonstrate that our aid is working in our national interest and global interest, certainly in terms of supporting our place in the world.”
This new vision includes a changed aid relationship with India, where the UK focuses on project-based support after its traditional bilateral aid system came to a close in 2015.
“We don’t give traditional aid to India but India is still home to 290 million of the world’s poorest people. So there is more that we can do with regard to supporting poverty reduction, jobs and livelihood and economic development in India,” she said.