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Buckingham Palace Holds First Lunar New Year Reception
China Minutes
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Buckingham Palace Holds First Lunar New Year Reception

On the evening of 1st February, King Charles III and Queen Camilla held a reception for the British East Asian and Southeast Asian communities for the first time at Buckingham Palace to celebrate the contribution of East and South-East Asian communities to the United Kingdom. It is the first time in British history that the royal family has held a Lunar New Year event at Buckingham Palace.

The King talked happily with Chinese guests. (Image source: Getty Images)

Some of the main guests who attended the event were Alan Mak, the first Chinese member of the House of Commons in the United Kingdom, Nat Wei, Baron Wei, member of the House of Lords, Alexa Chung, a famous model/fashion blogger whose father is three-quarters Chinese, John Rocha CBE, a Chinese-Irish designer, Chu Ting Tang OBE, Chairman of the London Chinatown Chinese Association, Edmond Yeo JP,Chair of the Chinese Information and Advice Centre (CIAC), Thomas Chan DL, the first Chinese mayor in the United Kingdom and current Representative Deputy Lieutenant for the London Borough of Redbridge. 

The King was shaking hands and talking with Alexa Chung

Over 300 guests attended the reception from multiple overseas Chinese groups as well as guests from various fields including culture, art, fashion, business, media, healthcare, finance, technology, public services, and the charity sector. Community representatives invited by the British Royal Family also included all Southeast Asian countries that celebrate the Lunar New Year, including China, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, Myanmar and Mongolia. 

The King was shaking hands with John Rocha CBE

King Charles III, Queen Camilla, Prince Edward, Princess Anne, Prince Edward, Princess Alexandra and other royal family members greeted guests cordially. Member of Congress Alan Mak said that he had participated in several receptions held by Buckingham Palace before, but it was the first time that he had participated in a reception on such a scale that specially invited representatives of the Southeast Asian community.

The King was shaking hands with Li Hai, President of UK Beijing Association (R2)

Chu Ting Tang OBE, Chairman of the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce in London, told the Nouvelles d'Europe that the Chamber of Commerce received an invitation from the royal family in December last year. He was happy and honoured to learn that the reception was to be held during Lunar New Year. That night, he attended with Vice President James Tsang, Secretary General Huang Ping, Spokesman Lawrence Lee, Executive Committee Member Kwan Lam and many other members of the Chamber of Commerce. Chu Ting Tang OBE said that The King welcomed them during the conversation, and also praised the grand London New Year celebrations that were hosted by the Chamber of Commerce, with 700,000 people in attendance, and wished everyone a “Happy New Year”. Chu Ting Tang OBE also expressed his New Year wishes to The King and The Queen Consort, and hoped that they would have the opportunity to visit London Chinatown again. 

The King was shaking hands with Mr. Edmond Yeo JP, Chairman of the Chinese Information and Consulting Center (CIAC)

Invited by Buckingham Palace to help organize this Lunar New Year event, Mr. Edmond Yeo JP said in an interview with the Nouvelles d'Europe: “This is an unprecedented Lunar New Year reception. I am very honoured to participate and help organize this event!” He revealed that the British Royal Family contacted the centre in December last year, hoping that the centre would help organize, nominate and invite 100 Chinese community guests, which made him and the centre members very happy and proud. He said: “I am a Malaysian Chinese. The Spring Festival represents reunion and unity. People from different backgrounds get together. In the process, Chinese culture has also been spread more widely. This is the significance of the Spring Festival. Now the Spring Festival is also a very important event in the UK. Important celebrations, from the Royal Family, the government, to major institutions, museums, schools, businesses, community associations, etc., hold Spring Festival celebrations. The reception at Buckingham Palace also represents the importance and recognition of the Chinese community. Mainstream British society respect and better understand Chinese culture and traditions, and the multiculturalism of different ethnic groups.”

A group photo of Queen Camilla and Chinese representatives. From the left: Edmond Yeo JP, Chairman of the Chinese Information Consulting Centre (CIAC), Deng Guifang, Chairman of the British Huidongbao Hometown Association, Jaime Law, Trustee of CIAC, Viny Poon Trustee of CIAC, and Thomas Chan DL, Deputy Representative of the British King's Great London Red Bridge District. (Image source: Getty Images)

Yan Zhenyu, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the British edition of the Nouvelles d'Europe, was invited to attend the reception. She respectively introduced the Nouvelles d'Europe to The King, The Queen Consort, Princess Anne and other royal family members. Charles and Camilla happily recalled their experience of attending the Lunar New Year celebrations in Chinatown and visiting Chinatown last year, and highlighted the contribution of Chinese media in communicating with the British and Chinese communities.

Zhu Xiaojiu MBE, chairman of the British-Chinese Lawyers Association, said that the Chinese and the Chinese community have contributed to the development of the UK in many fields for a long time, but still lack representation in the UK. Zhu argued that there should be more figures and voices from the Chinese community participating in mainstream activities in the UK.

The Queen Consort was shaking hands with Hu Min, Director of UK Chongqing Business Association (Image source: Getty Images)

Asked why the Chinese Information and Consultation Centre (CIAC) was invited to help organize the Buckingham Palace Spring Festival reception, Edmond Yeo JP told the Nouvelles d'Europe that it may be because the centre has been established for more than 40 years and has provided legal, security, immigration consulting services and support to countless people. This was especially so during the pandemic when the CIAC cooperated with the City of Westminster and the British National Health Service (NHS) to organize more than 20 “unconditional and free COVID-19 vaccination sessions” for vulnerable groups in the Chinese community, benefiting more than 7,000 people. When King Charles III and Queen Camilla visited Chinatown last year, they also discussed issues such as the hate crimes encountered by Asians since the pandemic, vaccinations, and legal assistance for the Chinese community with Edmond Yeo JP and other centre staff and local Chinese representatives.

A group photo of some guests nominated and invited by the Chinese Information and Consulting Centre in front of Buckingham Palace. Photo by Wan Mengke, intern journalist of the Nouvelles d'Europe

Edmond Yeo JP added that his colleagues at the Chinese Information and Consultation Centre promise to continue to serve the Chinese community wholeheartedly and wish a prosperous Year of the Rabbit!

A collection of photos made by CIAC as a gift for The King and The Queen Consort


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