London: Britain’s Prince Charles and his wife Camilla will visit India next month as part of a wider tour of Asia starting this month, but the royal couple will not travel to Myanmar, where violence against Rohingya Muslims has displaced over half a million people, officials said Wednesday.
The royal couple will arrive in India on November 8 for a two-day visit to be dominated by UK-India Year of Culture celebrations.
The visit, being undertaken by the heir to the British throne on behalf of the British government, will include a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, according to the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).
Prince Charles and Camilla — Duchess of Cornwall, will begin their Asian tour in Singapore on October 31 before going to Malaysia, where they will celebrate 60 years of diplomatic ties since the former British colony became independent, and conclude the 10-day visit in India on November 9.
While officials refused to elaborate on the reasons for the royals skipping Myanmar, it is widely believed that a spate of violence and allegations of ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims by Myanmar authorities led to the final schedule to only include Singapore, Malaysia and India.
“We looked at a range of options in the region and, as we’re announcing today, we’re going ahead with the visit to Singapore and Malaysia,” Philip Malone, South-east Asia department director at the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, told reporters on Tuesday.
“These visits are planned over a number of months, preparations are made and you get to the point…where we decide on the ones that we will pursue for the visit,” he said, on being asked about the omission of Myanmar.
The visit is being linked to building momentum for the Commonwealth summit to be hosted by the UK in April 2018.
“Their royal highnesses’ visit, which is at the request of the British government, will celebrate the UK’s partnership with these Commonwealth nations on shared priorities in advance of the Commonwealth Summit in April 2018.
“The visits will highlight key themes including celebrating community, cultural diversity and promoting business innovation,” Clarence House said in a statement.
The visit marks the first major UK royal visit to India since Prince William and Kate Middleton undertook a tour of the country in April last year on the request of the British government.
Charles and Camilla had met Myanmar’s de facto leader and Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi at their official London residence, Clarence House, in May for talks.
The meeting took place before violence erupted in the country, which has led to the displacement of over 500,000 Rohingya Muslims who have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh.
The UK government has repeatedly called on Suu Kyi to take a firm stand against the violence.