Baha'i News -- Queen to visit different religious communities to mark golden

Queen to visit different religious communities to mark golden

LONDON (AP) -- To show how much Britain has changed since she took the throne, Queen Elizabeth II will visit Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Jewish communities when she tours the country to mark her Golden Jubilee, officials said Tuesday.

Other members of the royal family will also visit communities who follow the Baha'i, Jain and Zoroastrian faiths, as part of celebrations marking the queen's 50 years on the throne, Buckingham Palace said.

``The purpose of each of these visits is to indicate respect for the diversity of faiths, to support inter-faith dialogue and to show that non-Christian, as well as Christian, communities are central to contemporary Britain,'' the palace said in a statement.

``Among the most significant changes to Britain over the past 50 years has been the growth of religious and cultural diversity.''

The palace says the queen's planned visit to the Islamic Center in Scunthorpe, northern England, on July 31 is her first foray into a British mosque, although she has visited mosques in other countries.

On June 6, she will visit Highgate Hill Murugan, a Hindu temple in north London and on July 24 will tour Manchester's Jewish Museum. On Aug. 1, she will visit Guru Nanak Gurdhwara, a Sikh temple in the central English city of Leicester.

Her second son, Prince Andrew, will attend a Baha'i reception in central London in July, and her youngest son, Prince Edward, will visit a Jain temple in Leicester and a Zoroastrian thanksgiving service in north London with his wife Sophie, Buckingham Palace said.

While the queen tours the country, local communities are expected to hold summer parties to mark the jubilee, although many have appeared slow off the mark with preparations.

But chief organizer Lord Sterling said Tuesday that the lavish public funeral for Queen Mother Elizabeth, who died on March 30, has ``heightened people's interest'' in the monarchy, and he has received a flood of new inquiries from groups wanting to hold events.

``It has clearly revealed the values and interests and people's attitudes towards how dedicated the queen has been over 50 years,'' Sterling said.

Elizabeth became queen on Feb. 6, 1952 following the death of her father, King George VI.


©Copyright 2002, Associated Press

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