LONDON: Tibetans and the general public in the UK have been blessed with two visits by His Holiness the Dalai Lama this year. His Holiness’ first visit to the UK this year was to receive the 2012 Templeton Prize at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London on 14 May. In June, His Holiness was in the UK for a ten-day visit which included programmes in Leeds, Manchester, London and Aldershot in England, and Edinburgh, Dundee and Inverness in Scotland.
During the two visits, His Holiness’ public events were attended by around 45,000 members of the public including many young people. His Holiness met with TRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Dean of Westminster and numerous other leaders of the Christian and other faiths. His Holiness also met with the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition Labour Party as well as the Speaker of the House of Commons, Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament and other political leaders. His Holiness’ events were also attended by over 180 Parliamentarians, and diplomats from over 40 countries including many Ambassadors.
The Office of Tibet held a reception in London on 11 July to celebrate His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s 77th Birthday. The reception was attended by friends and supporters of the Tibetan people, the Tibetan Community in Britain Council Members and other special guests. Speaking at the reception, His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Representative in London Mr Thubten Samdup said: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who helped the Office of Tibet to make this visit of His Holiness to the UK a success. His Holiness was very pleased with the overall UK visit and especially the youth event in Manchester where he was able to share his vision for the future and clearly demonstrate how young people can be a force for positive change in the 21st century and make it a ‘Century of Peace & Dialogue’”.
On 7 July, the Tibetan Community in Britain hosted a public celebration of His Holiness’ birthday at the Westminster Cathedral Hall in central London. The function began with His Holiness’ portrait being carried to the throne on stage by a procession followed by prayers for the long life of His Holiness and an address by His Holiness’ London Representative Mr Thubten Samdup.
Following his address, Mr Thubten Samdup read to the audience the Kashag’s Statement on His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s 77th Birthday Celebrations. Copies of the Kashag’s and the Tibetan Parliament in Exile’s statements were made available to those attending in both Tibetan and English. The Representative’s address was followed by a brief speech by Mr Sonam Dugdak, a Council Member of the Tibetan Community in Britain. During the two speeches, key upcoming events such as the 8 August 2012 global Tibet solidarity vigil, the four-day Special General Meeting to be held in Dharamsala in September, and the address on 14 July to Tibetans in the UK by the Department of Culture and Religion Kalon Mr Pema Chhinjor were highlighted.
The speeches were followed by performances of traditional Tibetan songs and dances by the Tibetan Community in Britain’s dance group; a demonstration of public speaking by five young Tibetan children, the youngest being seven and the oldest nine, who have been taking classes in public speaking; and games and other entertainment for the audience. The six-hour event concluded with the audience joining in Gorshey, followed by Sangsol and the singing of the Tibetan National Anthem.
Report by: The Office of Tibet, London