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Charles lends weight to time sharing multi-faith initiative
Michael White, political editor
Monday April 15, 2002
The Prince of Wales is poised to throw his weight behind an inter-faith scheme to celebrate the Queen's jubilee by encouraging voluntary time-sharing between people of different religions.
When the Respect scheme is launched by Prince Charles at the end of the month in Birmingham it will have the backing of Tony Blair - with whom he dined last Monday - and leaders of the main faiths across Britain.
The idea would mean volunteers, most of them young, working together, not just in deprived areas or doing socially-useful tasks, but also sharing time - even having meals - with strangers from other backgrounds.
It stems from a session the prince had with George Carey, archbishop of Canterbury, and his counterparts in other Christian denominations - as well as Jews, Hindus and Muslims - in 1998.
The chief rabbi, Jonathan Sachs, is credited with the initial suggestion which was offered as a low cost millennium alternative to the ill-fated Millennium Dome. It was shelved but revived last year when racial tensions in some cities preceded the crisis of religious tolerance after the attacks on September 11.
It was discussed at a dinner at Highgrove last month when Zaki Badawi, the Muslim scholar, and Indarjir Singh of the Sikh Interfaith Council, were among those present.
The government-backed Timebank scheme, which has attracted 30,000 volunteers, mostly young, will endorse the Respect project - as will the Prince's Trust, his most substantial foray into social regeneration.
The scheme reflects a long-standing concern of Prince Charles, albeit one often misrepresented as disloyalty to the Anglican church he will one day head, to bring the faiths closer together and promote the concept of religious faith in an increasingly secular world.
Yesterday's reports of a higher profile for the prince were dismissed as mischievous by insiders who are aware that sections of the media are keen to present him as "taking over" many functions from the Queen, who is 76 next week.
Yesterday 50 well-wishers cheered the prince when he turned up in a kilt, with Camilla Parker Bowles at his side, for morning service at Crathie church near Balmoral.
· A niece by marriage to the the Queen Mother was yesterday reported to have been given a pauper's funeral last year. Idonea Fane is understood to have died at an old people's home in Surrey after spending 60 years in a mental hospital.
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