A successful children’s cancer charity founder recalled his private audience with King Charles and receiving his MBE at Buckingham Palace.
Shajjad Rizvi, 52, was invited to have tea with the King at Clarence House after he received an MBE for services to charity and to the British business community in Romania in the 2019 New Year’s Honours list.
Rizvi, who is the Executive Chairman of the Duke of Edinburgh International Award Romania, attended the investiture ceremony in April 2019 with his family.
He said: “It was really cool, pretty surreal but I got mine at the same time as Gareth Southgate got his OBE. It was just after the success of the Euros so everyone huddled around him.
“When I got the MBE you say a few words and I said “Hello from Romania” because he has an interest in Romania.
“He has property out in Romania, when he was the Prince of Wales he would visit once a year for a private holiday so he would retreat to the Transylvanian countryside.”
Rizvi, who was raised in west London and attended Acton Middle School and Twyford Church of England High School, moved to Romania in 1990 and co-founded the Little People charity in 1996 and Youth Cancer Europe in 2015.
Rizvi received a letter of invitation a few weeks after receiving his MBE for a private audience and tea with the King in October 2019.
He added: “It was about an hour, we sat down in Clarence House and we talked. I always dip my biscuits so I instinctively just dipped it in but he didn’t even bat an eyelid.
“He was very keen to know more about the reasons why children and young people get cancer, what are the therapies and treatments available in Romania, what is the difference between the Romanian healthcare system and the UK healthcare system.”
The Little People charity, which celebrated its 20th anniversary as a registered charity last year, provides support for child and teenage cancer patients in Romania and the Republic of Moldova through services including psychosocial support programs, events for cancer survivors, and supplying medical equipment and medicine.
Rizvi, who is also an Honorary Prosperity Consul at the British Embassy in Bucharest, will be celebrating the King’s Coronation in Romania’s capital.
He said: “We’re going to have a big party the following week with the British community and the British Embassy in Romania and I believe up to a thousand people have been invited to that event.
“He’s totally loved out here, he could be king of Romania, they would make him king of Romania, trust me they love him.”
Featured image credit- Shajjad Rizvi