The Prince of Wales has praised the work of the British Muslim Heritage Centre, telling those gathered for his visit: “How important your communities are here in this country.”
Charles visited the centre, in the Whalley Range area of Manchester, as he began a series of engagements in the North West.
He was greeted by children from local schools waving Union flags before he was shown around the centre, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary.
The prince told trustees, workers and representatives of local businesses and community groups: “I’ve been so impressed by all the different initiatives and projects you run here and the difference you are making, in terms of all the work you are doing in the community, but also in terms of linking all the other communities together.
“It is obviously of huge importance, this dialogue and activity.
“If I may say so, I just wanted to congratulate you and to say how much I admire all the work you are doing. And how important your communities are here in this country.”
Dressed in a blue pin-striped suit and a patterned tie, the prince looked relaxed as he joked with guests.
Ashraf Ali, head of projects for the centre, said Charles took particular interest in the Stories of Sacrifice Exhibition, which is first about the Muslims who fought for Britain in the First World War.
Mr Ali said he showed the royal visitor a panel of Charles’s great-grandfather, King George V, wearing a turban when he was head of a Muslim cavalry regiment.
“I said, ‘I’ve got someone here, you might recognise him’,” Mr Ali said.
“He said, ‘I know this guy. Of course I recognise him’.”
Mr Ali said Charles also took an interest in the work of the centre in bringing communities together.
He also described how the staff presented the prince with local honey after they found out he enjoyed it in his tea.
Mr Ali said a local resident keeps bees but when the centre asked him if they could have some for the Royal visit, he said it was the wrong time of year.
He said officials tracked down one of the man’s customers who agreed to donate her honey when she found out why they wanted it.
Charles later left the centre and Manchester to head east to Wigan, where he visited The Old Courts in the town centre to learn about the building’s restoration into a community arts centre.
He met participants from a variety of local arts projects before the tour moved on to the Toffee Works to celebrate 100 years of family-run William Santus & Co’s factory operating on the site, where it makes its most famous product, Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls.
Charles’s final visit of the day was to Wigan Little Theatre, where he watched young performers stage the “To Be Or Not To Be” sketch which the royal visitor appeared in at the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2016 for the Shakespeare Live event.
As he left the auditorium, the prince waved and said: “You’ve been a great audience.”