In 1996 HRH The Prince of Wales, now His Majesty King Charles III, attended Wilton Park for an event celebrating our 50th anniversary.
His Majesty gave the opening speech at the dialogue, titled ‘A Sense of the Sacred: Building Bridges Between Islam and the West.’
The opening lines included:
‘I start from the belief that Islamic civilization at its best, like many of the religions of the East – Judaism, Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism – has an important message for the West in the way it has retained a more integrated and integral view of the sanctity of the world around us. I feel that we in the West could be helped to rediscover those roots of our own understanding by an appreciation of the Islamic tradition’s deep respect for the timeless traditions of the natural order. I believe that process could help in the task of bringing our two faiths closer together. It could also help us in the West to rethink, and for the better, our practical stewardship of man and his environment — in fields like health-care, the natural environment and agriculture, as well as in architecture and urban planning.’
His Majesty’s speech discussed the importance of collaboration between faiths, and of learning from Islam’s view of the sanctity of the natural world.
The key themes of the speech – the importance of respect for the environment, arts and culture, and the strength created by multifaith collaborations – reflect His Majesty’s lifelong interests and are likely to be reflected in the Coronation celebrations.
The 50th anniversary celebration was very much in keeping with Wilton Park’s tradition as a home of strategic thought and respectful dialogue. Wilton Park continues to be the place that people go when they want to resolve critical issues, debate sensitive topics, and build understanding between groups.
Attendees at the dialogue included the Ambassadors of Saudi Arabia and Egypt, the Bishops of Coventry and Rochester, and the Director of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies.
An extract from His Majesty’s speech was printed in The Times, along with an account of the event.
His Majesty sent a thank you note to Wilton Park following the event.
The Times articles can be downloaded below: