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Royal Couple Visit Reflects Britain-Malaysia Close Ties

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KUALA LUMPUR - The seven-day royal visit by Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall which ended yesterday, reflected the long-standing close and cordial ties between the United Kingdom (UK) and Malaysia.

Despite being a former British colony, Malaysia has maintained a good relationship with the UK in all aspects, sixty years after achieving independence in 1957, and both countries continue to maintain mutual respect for each other.

Bilateral relations between the two countries encompass a wide range of areas including trade, defence and security, education, digital economy, green technology, renewable energy, culture and tourism, benefiting the people as well as the business community of both countries.

Malaysia is United Kingdom's second largest export market in the ASEAN region and the UK is Malaysia's third trading partner in Europe, while in the field of education, there are currently more than 18,000 Malaysians studying in the UK.

The royal visit is part of a tour of Malaysia, Singapore and India from Oct 30 to Nov 9.

The visit is very special in the sense that it brought them to several states.Their Royal Highnesses kicked off their maiden visit with a tight itinerary in the federal capital before heading to Perak, then to Sarawak and finally to Penang.

Prince Charles who was welcomed by the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Nazrin Shah in a special reception at the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, here, on Nov 3 said that the museum, which houses more than 10,000 artefacts, as well as a library of Islamic art books, served as a reminder of just how important it was that all societies were able to preserve, and be proud of, their cultural heritage.

Their Royal Highnesses also had an audience with His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Muhammad V at Istana Negara, and received a courtesy call from the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor.

Prince Charles was clearly impressed with Malaysia's positive image on the outside world.

This was reflected in his speech at the Royal Gala Dinner hosted by the British High Commission in Malaysia on the same day, in which the heir to the British throne said that Malaysia offers a powerful model to others in the region, not only because of its particular strengths in business, education, science, security and defence, but also the way Malaysia operates on the world stage.

Prince Charles mentioned that Malaysia's long-standing global reputation for understanding across the borders of faith and community was a precious asset in a world threatened by a lack of 'this most essential commodity'.

On Nov 4, Prince Charles visited the Commonwealth War Graves in Taiping, Perak where His Royal Highness expressed his appreciation to the management team of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) for managing and maintaining the Taiping War Cemetery well.

The cemetery is the final resting place for 864 Commonwealth casualties, with more than 500 of whom are unidentified, during the Second World War (1939-1945) in then Malaya.

His Royal Highness also visited the Royal Belum State Park on the same day, where he praised the uniqueness and splendour of Tasik Temenggor after cruising across the lake despite the inclement weather.

Prince Charles is well-known for having a lifelong commitment to wildlife conservation as he is at present, the President of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) UK.

Their Royal Highnesses landed in Sarawak on Nov 6 and took time to visit the Sarawak Cultural Village, which is located some 35 km from Kuching.

Located in northwest Borneo Island, Sarawak's diverse population comprised of many races and ethnic groups. Sarawak has more than 40 sub-ethnic groups, each with its own distinct language, culture and lifestyles, making its demography distinct and unique.

At the cultural village, the royal couple explored the interior of the traditional Iban longhouse and Prince Charles later had a private dialogue session with six community leaders from the Bidayuh, Iban, Orang Ulu, Melanau, Chinese and Malay communities at Persada Alam, while Camilla went to the Dewan Lagenda to view the local craft exhibition before proceeding with their tour of Kuching.

The royal couple then departed to Penang and arrived on the same day to begin the last leg of their Malaysian tour at the Pearl of the Orient.

On Nov 7, Their Royal Highnesses visited four places of worship, namely St George's Church, Kapitan Keling Mosque, Han Jiang Ancestral Temple and Sri Mahamariamman Temple in George Town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The places of worship represented the multi-religious and multi-ethnicity diversity of Malaysians.

Their Royal Highnesses departed for New Delhi, India from Penang International Airport at 11.27 am yesterday.

Previous visits by members of the British Royalty were on Sept 20 to 23 ,1998 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh who attended the official opening of the 16th Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur, and the visit by Prince William and Kate Middleton, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, in September 2012.