Exclusive: King Charles And Queen Camilla’s Starry Night For A Cause Close To Their Hearts
King Charles has urged people to “pay attention” to indigenous communities “before it’s too late”. His Majesty made an impromptu speech after presenting a conservation award at the annual Animal Ball, which was celebrating indigenous communities this year. He said: “I think it’s over 35 years ago now that I tried to see if I could set

Inside King Charles And Queen Camilla's Starry Night For A Cause Close To Their Hearts

King Charles has urged people to “pay attention” to indigenous communities “before it’s too late”. His Majesty made an impromptu speech after presenting a conservation award at the annual Animal Ball, which was celebrating indigenous communities this year. 

He said: “I think it’s over 35 years ago now that I tried to see if I could set up a project to collate as much of the indigenous knowledge and wisdom as possible throughout the world. But in those days, nobody wanted to know. 

“But now if I may say so, it is absolutely critical that we turn to all that indigenous knowledge and wisdom as the only way really of restoring the balance and harmony that is so badly needed in this world if we are going to save the planet. 

“So, it’s up to all of us to pay attention to that knowledge and that wisdom before it’s too late.” The ball was marking 20 years of Elephant Family, the conservation charity founded by the Queen’s late brother Mark Shand, who died in 2014. 

The King told a star-studded audience of around 300 guests: “Both my wife and I [are] so very proud to be able to present both these awards particularly, if I may say so, it transpires that today is actually Mark Shand’s birthday. And he would have been so thrilled to know that Elephant Family had managed to get its 20th anniversary. “

The four people presented with the Mark Shand Award were: Dr. Tarsh Thekaekara, co-founder of The Real Elephant Collective and operations manager Subash Gautham and Vishnu Varadam and Ramesh Maran, indigenous members of the Bettakurumba Tribe.

This year’s colourful event, which was jointly hosted by Elephant Family and the British Asian Trust, drew a lineup of famous faces including Dame Kristin Scott Thomas, Keeley Hawes, Matthew Macfadyen, Jilly Cooper, Christian Louboutin, Emma Weymouth and former Chancellor of the Exchequer Nadim Zahawi.

The King and Queen also met former Towie star Gemma Collins, who is a supporter of Elephant Family. The royal couple were welcomed to the garden at Lancaster House by a lineup including Ruth Ganesh, co-founder of Elephant Family and Lord Gadhia, chair of the British Asian Trust.

The Queen looked elegant in a blue embroidered tunic top with blue palazzo chiffon trousers by Anna Valentine and diamond earrings by Van Cleef and Arpels. She and the King were presented with Shola masks by renowned Indian designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee, carved from sholapith, a sustainable type of cork grown in the marshlands of Bengal. 

The royal couple posed for photographs surrounded by lifesize elephant sculptures made from Lantana, an invasive weed that impacts human and animal habitats in India, and which were part of the charity’s 2021 Co-Existence exhibition across the Royal Parks. 

Some of the 125 elephant sculptures from its 2021 exhibition are now permanently displayed in the gardens of their Majesties’ private homes at Highgrove and Raymill – and two are owned by Gemma Collins. 

“They are absolutely beautiful,” she told the Queen. “What I love about them is the way the eyes move with you in the garden”. Her Majesty complimented the TV star on her eye-catching headwear – a headband with a shiny cherry and caterpillar on top. 

“I’m just so happy to be here and share this evening with you,” Gemma told her. Turning to the King, Gemma said: “You really are King of the planet and we love you for what you do for the animals. Please keep getting that message out there, it means so much.”

There was music from the Oxford Philarmonic Orchestra and singer-songwriter Tom Odell during the awards ceremony in the marquee.

The King and Queen have long supported Elephant Family, serving as joint presidents, supporting fundraisers in the UK and visiting their projects on overseas visits. 

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