The Prince of Wales has praised the contribution Sikhs have made to life in the UK on the eve of a two-day visit to India.
Charles will commemorate the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak, when he visits a major temple in the capital New Delhi on Wednesday.
His comments are likely to be interpreted as further evidence of his reported desire to take the title defender of faith, rather than “the faith” when he becomes king, to reflect multi-cultural Britain.
In a message to Britain’s Sikh community, and others in the Commonwealth, to mark the 550th anniversary of the birth of the religion’s founder, Charles said: “The principles on which Guru Nanak founded the Sikh religion, and which guide your lives to this day, are ones which can inspire us all – hard work, fairness, respect and selfless service to others.”
Charles added in the message, posted on his official Twitter account: “In embodying these values, Sikhs have made the most profound contribution to the life of this country, and continue to do so.
“This week, as Sikhs everywhere honour the founder of your faith, my wife and I wanted you to know just how much your community is valued and admired by us all, and that our thoughts are with you at this very special time.”
In the UK the prince has visited the places of worship of many faiths and religions, from Hinduism and Judaism to Orthodox Christians and Middle East Catholics, and regularly holds interfaith dialogue events when on official overseas trips.
He recently attended the canonisation of Saint John Henry Newman, the 19th century Catholic cardinal, at the Vatican, where he met Pope Francis before the ceremony.
Charles has a busy schedule in the Indian capital on Wednesday and will sit down for bilateral talks with India’s President Ram Nath Kovind.
The British High Commission in New Delhi said Charles’ 10th official visit to the country would “celebrate enduring British-Indian ties, with a focus on shared global challenges such as sustainability and climate change”.
Charles will also take part in a discussion on how to strengthen disaster resilience and tackle the effects of climate change at the Indian Meteorological Department.
He will later attend a military service to commemorate the sacrifices of soldiers from India, the UK and across the Commonwealth in the two World Wars.
British High Commissioner to India, Sir Dominic Asquith, said about the prince: “His many visits to India and his enduring interest in promoting our common interests is another example of the living bridge between the United Kingdom and India.
“His Royal Highness will witness how India makes use of innovation to respond to natural disasters and how its clean technology is helping deal with the challenges of climate change.
“He will celebrate our strong cultural links and experience the warm hospitality that diverse religious communities in India have to offer.”
During the day Charles will also present a Commonwealth Points of Light award to an Indian woman for her exemplary contribution to the field of social development.
The prince will celebrate his 71st birthday on Thursday, and will be in Mumbai for a meeting about sustainability.
From Sunday, Charles will begin a tour of the South Pacific, lasting more than a week, and will spend the majority of his time in New Zealand with wife Camilla before making solo trips to the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.