HRH The Princess Royal concludes her visit to SL
Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal and her spouse Vice Admiral Timothy Laurence concluded a three-day official visit to Sri Lanka on Friday, 12 January 2024, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
The visit marked a momentous occasion celebrating the 75th Anniversary of bilateral relations between Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom and was characterized by a series of engagements that reinforced the deep ties between the two countries.
Upon their arrival on 10th January, a vibrant ceremony with a multi-cultural performance welcomed them, with Foreign Minister Ali Sabry extending warm greetings.
Visiting at the invitation of the Government of Sri Lanka, the official engagement kicked off with a welcome dinner hosted by President Ranil Wickremesinghe, reflecting the warm and cordial relations shared by the two countries during which Princess Royal delivered a message from His Majesty the King to the President and the people of Sri Lanka.
Addressing a gathering at the concluding reception hosted by the British High Commissioner, The Princess Royal remarked on the warm and friendly bilateral relations between the two countries and was committed to fostering cultural, economic and social connections.
Foreign Minister Ali Sabry who delivered a short speech during this reception, remarked that the visit held profound significance and is a watershed moment in the 75 years of our bilateral relations with the United Kingdom.
He also drew attention to the significant transformation Sri Lanka has undergone since The Princess Royal’s last visit in 1995.
The Minister thanked the UK for its steadfast support for the pursuit of development and prosperity in Sri Lanka.
In Colombo, as the patron of the Save the Children Foundation, Her Royal Highness visited its office and unveiled a plaque commemorating the 50th Anniversary of ‘Save the Children’ working in Sri Lanka, and undertook a visit to the Lady Ridgeway Hospital for Children, showcasing the commitment to social causes.
Additionally, The Princess Royal toured the ‘MAS Holdings’ facility in Katunayake, a leading apparel tech company in South Asia as identified by the UK Fashion and Textile Association (UKFT), of which The Princess Royal is the President.
During the tour she witnessed the state of the art technology and capabilities of the Sri Lankan apparel sector, reinforcing its role in Sri Lanka – UK trade relations.
The itinerary extended to Hatch Works, Colombo, an ICT innovation hub supporting start-ups, further highlighting the collaborative efforts in technological advancements and the promotion of entrepreneurial culture through facilitating access to essential infrastructure, knowledge, and capital.
At the British Council, HRH was briefed on the ongoing work to build cultural and educational relationships between Sri Lanka and the UK and was privy to ‘The Arches of Awe exhibition’, featuring images of 21 arches built to welcome Queen Elizabeth II to Sri Lanka in 1954.
As the President of the ‘Commonwealth War Graves Commission’ Princess Royal also visited the Commonwealth War Graves at Liverament Cemetery and laid a wreath to commemorate the dead in the aftermath of both World Wars I and II, symbolizing shared history and values.
Moving to Kandy, the royal guests were welcomed by the Central Province Governor Lalith U Gamage, and were escorted to the sacred temple of the ‘Tooth Relic’, where she paid her respects.
HRH The Princess Royal and Vice Admiral Timothy’s visit to Jaffna marked a historic occasion, as the first-ever visit by members of the British Royal Family, where they were received by Northern Governor P. S. M. Charles. In Jaffna, the focus shifted to important aspects of post-conflict recovery visiting the Muhamalai Demining site and meeting communities resettled in mine–cleared areas in Muhamalai, signifying and reiterating the valuable contribution of donor partners, including the UK in creating a mine – free Sri Lanka.
The Royals were also taken on a tour of the Jaffna Public Library recognized as a center for knowledge and cultural preservation, and met members of the local community.
During their visit, the Royal Guests also toured the Vajira Pillayar Kovil, and took part in a special pooja blessing conducted by the chief priest. Princes Royal visited the ‘Mission to Seafarers’ as the President of this movement and had an engaging conversation with its Colombo staff reiterating the importance of seafaring to Sri Lanka as a maritime nation.
The Princess Royal first visited Sri Lanka in 1995 and this year marked her second to the Island. Sri Lanka has received members of the Royal family on seven previous occasions since 1948, including , Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II who visited the island just five months after her Coronation, and that of His Majesty the King, as the Prince of Wales on three occasions.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs worked in close coordination with the British High Commission in Colombo, which played a pivotol role in the execution of the programme assisted by the Sri Lanka High Commission in London and all other local government agencies. This historic visit by HRH The Princess Royal led to a comprehensive exploration of the diverse facets of the relationship between Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom.