There was warmth, belly laughs and also belly flops as Charles welcomed the Olympic and Paralympic heroes. It also helped mark 50 years since Ugandan Asians expelled by dictator Idi Amin arrived in the UK.
One of the highlights of the day saw the King joke about the risk of a flat stomach with diving champion Tom Daley and fellow Olympian Matty Lee.
Matty, 24, said: ‘We were talking about belly flops and I said if we get it wrong it can hurt a lot.
He said, ‘I don’t know how you do that’. It’s just crazy – I didn’t think I’d be talking flat stomach on a Wednesday night with the King.
Tom, 28, suggested to the Queen that she would make an excellent gymnast due to her short stature.
He said: ‘I said ‘the smaller you are, the faster you spin’ and she said ‘maybe I should have been a gymnast’ and I was like ‘well you’re the queen’ .”
The divers were among 150 medalists from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games and the Beijing 2022 Winter and Paralympic Games last night.
Earlier, Charles welcomed over 400 guests to the reception celebrating Ugandan Asians.
They included celebrities, dignitaries, and businessmen and women. The King clapped and laughed after hearing the Ugandan national anthem sung by veteran broadcasters Jon Snow, Jonathan Dimbleby and former Archbishop of York Lord Bishop Sentamu.
Jon and Jonathan reported on the traumatic events in Uganda. Lord Sentamu – as a young barrister and judge – was beaten and briefly imprisoned for voicing his opposition to Amin before he and his wife were smuggled from Uganda to the UK in 1973.
Former Channel 4 News presenter Jon, wearing one of his colorful ties, joked after their performance of Oh Uganda Land of Beauty: ‘Thought we would make him happy. I felt he would like it and he did.
“For King Charles to make his first big public moment a multicultural moment sends a wonderful message.”
Of the 80,000 people who had just 90 days to leave Uganda, 28,000 British passport holders came to the UK, where they were resettled after staying in 16 reception centers across the country.
Television journalists then co-hosted a ceremony which included a turn by actor and comedian Sanjeev Bhaskar, who paid tribute to the king and took a playful jab at Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
Sanjeev, a founding member of the British Asian Trust, told guests inside the State Dining Room: ‘I have had the privilege over the past 25 years of working with the King, the man formerly known under the name Prince.
“I can therefore say from first-hand experience that his contribution, recognition, encouragement and affection for the British Asian community has been unparalleled and extraordinary.”
And for a laugh, he joked, if the Prime Minister steps out of line, Charles could alert “the secret cabal of older Asian women who may have a word in their ears”. I like to call them the Illuminati”.
Wearing the Khadi poppy in memory of Indian soldiers killed in World War II, the King chatted with British Asians of Ugandan descent who have built successful businesses here.
They included members of the Thakrar family – which founded Tilda Rice – and brothers Yogesh, Hitesh and Dilesh Mehta who own businesses such as Pickfords and fragrance company Shaneel Enterprises.
Yogesh said, “Hunger was there to succeed. We came from a reasonable standard of living and wanted to have that standard of living here. We realized that education is very important.
Palace officials are still working on a mix of engagements that were already in Charles and Camilla’s diary before the Queen died at Balmoral on September 8.
The King will travel to Bradford and Leeds next Tuesday and will be accompanied by the Queen to York and Doncaster on Wednesday.
A senior Palace official said: “We are preparing a very busy and – we hope – exciting autumn program for them.”