LONDON: A Muslim charity chief has told Arab News that it was an “honor” to attend King Charles III’s coronation at Westminster Abbey.
Idris Patel, CEO of Supporting Humanity, was among 2,000 guests inside the abbey as Charles was crowned at the weekend.
“Honestly, it was a very, very special and auspicious occasion, and something that will live long in my memory for me, and my kids will be able to say: ‘My dad went to the coronation,’” he told Arab News.
“The day itself was absolutely brilliant, I loved the way they respected everyone from all different religions and faiths, whereby the (order of service) they gave us said only kneel if you wish to kneel, you don’t have to sing certain hymns, it’s absolutely fine but please just respect those who do wish to by not talking.
“I have to respect them for that, as they did understand that, given it was a Christian (ceremony), some people may not feel comfortable saying ‘Jesus is lord’, and said only say if you feel you agree,” he added.
Patel said he was particularly impressed with the organization and how inclusive the invitation list was.
“They took everything into account, planned everything to a tee and respected other people’s sensitivities, it was a privilege, it was stupendous,” he said.
“It felt like a rainbow in the abbey, as they did invite people of every ethnicity, every background, so it wasn’t about how poor or rich you were, or what color you were, and it felt like they’d made sure you were invited no matter where you were from,” he added.
Patel rejected criticism of the timing and cost of the coronation, with taxpayers footing its estimated £100 million ($126.4 million) bill during a cost-of-living crisis.
He said people should see how they can help the needy, the homeless and more vulnerable members of society themselves, rather than criticizing the event.
“I’ve heard all the criticism, it doesn’t matter what they say about the Royal family, for me it was an honor to be invited,” he said.
“Yes the monarchy has spent a lot of money, but on the day of judgment, everyone will be responsible for themselves, for the way they spent money, and it’s quite a big occasion for (the monarchy) and they believe it brings in billions of pounds in tourism every year,” he said.
Patel’s invitation was in recognition of his work as founder of the Supporting Humanity charity, which was formed during the coronavirus pandemic initially to help provide food and support communities in the Greater London area.
And he has big expansion plans for the charity and how it can help even further, especially in growing its focus on the provision of mental health, suicide prevention and bereavement fields.
“From where we were and where we’re at now, we’ve grown dramatically, we hope to get bigger and better,” he said.
“One of the things we’re looking at is mental health, in the South Asian and Caribbean communities it’s something seen more as ‘black magic,’ so we’re trying to change that attitude and trying to get people to understand, respect and believe that mental health (issues) are an illness that needs professional help.
“We’re focusing on places of worship, not just mosques, but also churches, synagogues, temples and gurdwaras and looking to increase engagement and build networks with these sort of places so that it becomes less of an issue.”
Patel was awarded the British Empire Medal for services to the community during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021. He was also the recipient of a British Citizen Award Medal of Honour for his services to the community.
The medals are awarded to people who have carried out “meritorious” actions for their community.