The long wait for Kate and William and for millions of well-wishers around the world is finally over with last night’s announcement of the birth of a baby boy and welcome news that both mother and baby are doing well. All babies are special to their proud parents; all bring their own gifts of love and unique personality but this baby, third in line to the throne, will also be special to millions in many other lands. As coincidence has it, I was doing my stint on this slot at the time of the announcement of the engagement of William and Kate, and I’m delighted to offer them, and the rest of the Royal family, my congratulations and those of the British Sikh community at this joyous news.
The Sikh community in the UK and abroad have a great regard for the royal family which, given the egalitarian teachings of Sikhism and our obsession with elections, seems at first sight a little odd. But Sikh admiration for the royal family is linked to the very positive lead it has given in welcoming other communities and cultures to these shores.
In many ways the British monarchy has been years ahead of the rest of society in promoting greater inter faith understanding, with the Queen herself ensuring that annual Commonwealth Day Service in Westminster Abbey for the last 40 years has always been a multi faith event, with readings from the scriptures of all the major world religions. Since then, the royals, particularly the Queen and the Prince of Wales have graced many function of different faiths with genuine interest, charm and respect.
As with many faith communities, Sikh parents take their new baby to their place of worship, the gurdwara, as soon as possible after the birth. Prayers are said for the baby’s health, and happiness, with the proud parents being reminded to bring their child up to be a credit to the community. It’s not an easy task, particularly in today’s fast changing social environment, and it will be even more difficult for Kate and William if they are constantly in the glare of media attention.
While wishing them and their new baby every health and happiness for the future, I’m sure many will also join me in wishing them a measure of privacy to enjoy their proud status as parents. It’s something they need and deserve, and it’s the best present we can all give them.