CHARLES MEETS NEW BRITS AT CITIZENSHIP CEREMONY

27 FEBRUARY 2004

Prince Charles bid welcome to 19 new subjects on Thursday when the first British citizenship ceremony was staged in London.

Immigrants from as far afield as New Zealand, Afghanistan and Nepal came along to meet the Prince of Wales and swear their allegiance to the Crown. And the future king told them "you belong here and you are welcome", after the 15-minute ceremony was completed.

Among the new Britons was an Afghan family who fled the Taliban and a Somalian man who escaped the ravages of civil war in his home country. "I have to make a future for my children," said Abdikadir Muse. "I want to live here for the rest of my life. I may feel less British, but my children will feel 100 per cent British." The proud father looked visibly relieved after he received his citizenship documents and a commemorative bronze medal from the Prince.

Once the formalities were taken care of, Charles chatted with his new countrymen, as songs by some of the UK's best loved musical stars were played in the background. "Being British is a privilege and a blessing," he said. "A writer once observed that to have been born British was to have won the first prize in life's lottery."

Photo: © Alphapress.com
The Prince of Wales was joined by Home Secretary David Blunkett at the event. Once the ceremony came to an end, the future king was eager to chat with his new subjectsPhoto: © PA
Photo: © Alphapress.com
Charles offers the hand of friendship to little Hasib from Afghanistan. The youngster made his oath of allegiance along with sister Munilla and mum PalwashaPhoto: © PA

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