The UK’s King Charles was greeted on Wednesday by a crowd of over 1,000 people on a visit to Brick Lane in London, the heart of the city’s Bangladeshi community.
The king, accompanied by Queen Camilla, shook hands with well-wishers and the pair had flower petals scattered before them as they walked.
They visited a mosque in the area and planted a tree in memory of Bangladeshi man Altab Ali, who was murdered in a racist attack in 1978.
King Charles had been due to visit Bangladesh in October but the trip was canceled following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, said Bangladeshi High Commissioner Saida Muna Tasneem.
The king and queen met with figures from the local group British Bangladeshi Power and Inspiration at Graam Bangla restaurant, but the venue was so packed with onlookers that the large array of food laid out for the occasion had to be packed up for the pair to take away with them.
Ayesha Qureshi, a lawyer and co-founder of British Bangladeshi Power and Inspiration, said she invited the king to visit the community at a previous audience between the monarch and members of Britain’s South Asian community.
“My husband and I pressed on His Majesty the importance of recognizing certain elements of the community here, particularly the British Bangladeshi community, because we’ve lost so many people to COVID
-19, particularly the older generation, who came here to work in the factories, in the rag trade,” Qureshi told The Times.
She added that the visit showed “how engaged His Majesty is ... with multiculturalism and the anti-racism movement.
“There is racism within British society. But what this demonstrates is the fact that the king is very attuned to the communities of this country, and wants to reign in a way which is inclusive and supportive of those communities.
“The fact that he has come here today is very demonstrative of the fact that he listens to people’s concerns, and that he supports and understands.
“If you listened to the cheers here today, to the national anthem being sung by children who are representative of the multicultural community … that is demonstrative of how well respected he is within the community here.”
Qureshi said: “I am ecstatic. The fact that we walked Brick Lane in the footsteps of our fathers with the king is unbelievable. It feels surreal.”