Celebrities join London reception for His Holiness? birthday

by Tsering Tashi, Office of Tibet, July 8, 2005

London, UK --  British actress Joanna Lumley and the Duchess of York yesterday attended the London Office of Tibet?s reception to celebrate the 70th birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, to whom the chief guest Lord David Steel lead a toast by referring to the Tibetan Nobel Peace Laureate as ?a most remarkable man? and wishing him ?all success in the future?.

<< The Dalai Lama turned 70 on July 6, 2005

The respected British parliamentarian and author also informed the invited guests that included members of the parliament, foreign missions, officials, journalists and representatives from various NGOs and Buddhist centres, how a few months back he had enjoyed reading His Holiness the Dalai Lama?s autobiography, ?Freedom in Exile?.

?If any of you have not see it I do strongly recommend it because it is absolutely spell-binding from cover to cover, about his escape from Tibet in 1959, all his adventures, about his family, about his upbringing, about his Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.  It is an amazing book?, said Lord Steel, who was the First Presiding Officer or Speaker of the New Scottish Parliament, and was involved in inviting His Holiness to address the Scottish Parliament, which the Tibetan spiritual and temporal leader did with great success in June 2004.

Lord Steel, speaking at the reception held in the centrally-located premises of The Fleming Collection, mentioned how it was unfortunate that the Chinese government always tries to put pressure on governments wanting to invite His Holiness the Dalai Lama for a visit.

?It is a sad thing that although we celebrate his birthday and acknowledge him, unfortunately the Chinese government still tries to bring obstacles in his path and in the path of the people of Tibet?, said Lord Steel, adding that during the visit to Scotland last year His Holiness was ?very warmly welcomed and received in the Scottish Parliament?.

Mrs. Kesang Y. Takla, Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for Northern Europe, based at the London Office of Tibet, said that in celebrating His Holiness? 70th birthday, the gathering also is celebrating the birth of one of the world?s best recognised champion of peace.

?It is a great honour for me, and the staff of the Office of Tibet, to welcome you to our reception this evening, to celebrate and acknowledge His Holiness? compassionate leadership and guidance, which benefit not only the Tibetan people but many others in all stations of life, all over the world,? said Mrs. Takla, before reading the message from His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, Prince Charles, who could not attend the reception because of prior commitments.

Prince Charles in his message, however, said, ?His Holiness is renowned for his tireless work in promoting world peace, religious harmony and universal responsibility.  I wish His Holiness many happy returns of the day and join you in marking the Seventieth birthday of one of the most distinguished personalities of our time?.

It may be recalled that last year Prince Charles invited His Holiness to his official residence, Clarence House, for a reception to honour His Holiness? visit to UK, when the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan William and the British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw also met the Tibetan leader.  Like then, the heir to the British throne this time in his message has also frankly shared with the august reception gathering how His Holiness continues to inspire him.

?I have known His Holiness for many years now and have always felt inspired by his presence.  His sincere message of peace and compassion rightly has many followers.  Along with many of you here today, I was privileged to attend his talk on ?A Human Approach to World Peace? last May at the Westminster Central Hall in London, and I know that so many of us in the audience felt uplifted by his words and his wisdom?, HRH The Prince of Wales said in his message.

While introducing the evening?s reception, Mr. Tsering Tashi, Secretary and Press/Information Officer, explained how during an international scientific conference in Sweden on 12 June, His Holiness had said that as a Buddhist monk he does not consider birthdays important and that for him every new day is like a birthday.

?However, this morning His Holiness made an exception by attending the grand Tibetan celebrations in Dharamsala, which has already been reported by the BBC World News.  His Holiness the Dalai Lama also told the gathering of 1400 scientists and others, who sang the birthday song in advance, that the best birthday gift for him would be for everyone to be a good-hearted person so that this can benefit their family, the nation and the world at large? said Mr. Tashi, who on behalf of the Office of Tibet thanked The Amaryllis Fleming Foundation for their kindness and support in facilitating the reception to celebrate His Holiness the Dalai Lama?s 70th birthday.

All the guests enjoyed the warm and friendly atmosphere of the Office of Tibet?s reception held against the backdrop of a traditionally decorated Tibetan alter on which was placed a large coloured photo of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.  The day concluded successfully with the much-liked traditional song and dances performed by members of the Tibetan Dance Group of the Tibetan Community in Britain.