‘Yereven My Love’: Prince Charles Hosts Dinner to Celebrate British and Armenian Charities at Windsor Castle

From left to right: Nouneh Sarkissian, Armen Sarkissian, Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla Bowels, The Prince of Wales, President Serzh Sarkisian, Karekin II Catholicos of All Armenians.

LONDON—An historic charity event in support of Armenian and British charities took place at the Windsor Castle on 10 February hosted by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall.  Project initiator and main benefactor Armen Sarkissian, former Prime Minister of Armenia and President of Eurasia House International, welcomed more than 200 guests from around the world with the Royal couple.

“I think I can say with some certainty that it is the first time in Windsor Castle’s nearly one thousand year history that there has been an Anglo-Armenian celebration,” said the Prince of Wales in his remarks.

With artists and performers: From l to r: Djivan Gasparyan, Catholicos Karekin II, Sergey Smpatyan, Dariga Nazarbayeva, President Serzh Sarkisian, Mikhail Simonyan, The Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, Armen Sarkissian, Nouneh Sarkissian.

“Yerevan-My-Love” is a heritage-led regeneration project dedicated to preserving architecturally significant buildings in Yerevan and putting them to use to improve the life experience of disabled children, young people and disadvantaged families.

“The projects that we are supporting today combine both elements of our rich cultural heritage: the physical restoration of architecturally significant buildings and the centrality of human community, especially children,” explained Armen Sarkissian, former Prime Minister of Armenia and initiator of the fundraising, who has been working with HRH The Prince of Wales closely and his charities.

The fundraising will support the reconstruction of four buildings: two of them in Yerevan’s Kond district and two in the centre. Once completed and fully furnished with facilities and equipment, one of the Kond buildings will be used to house a nursery for deaf and mute children from deprived families and the other will serve as a centre for single mothers with children. The other two buildings in the centre will become a music school for national instruments for deprived children and youth.  The school will be run by world famous master duduk player Djivan Gasparyan, who was an orphan himself and grew up under the care and tutelage of musicians and artists of his time.

Members of the royal family, dignitaries, world renowned political, cultural and civic leaders, and senior executives of global corporation, including Areva, HSBC, Barclay’s Bank, Merrill Lynch, Elettronica, attended this unique charity event.  A high level delegation from Armenia was headed by President Serge Sargsyan and His Holiness Catholicos Garegin II of All Armenians, the Mayor of Yerevan and Armenia’s Foreign Minister.

Master duduk player Djivan Gasparyan and his grandson Djivan Jr. played the opening piece of the concert with the Philharmonia Orchestra (Hans Zimmer’s opening theme from the film Gladiator), conducted by young artists Sergey Smbatyan (Yerevan) of the National Youth Orchestra of Armenia.  Young violinist Mikhail Simonyan (New York), internationally recognized as one of the most celebrated talents of his generation, performed Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, first movement. Mezzo-soprano Dariga Nazarbayeva (Almaty) sang “O del mio dolce ardour” by Gluck and a selection of Armenian and Kazakh folk songs; followed by Aram Khachaturian’s Adagio from Spartacus & Phrygia.

From left to right: Armen Sarkissian, Prince Charles, Charles Aznavour, Leon Sayan.

The encore was Roever Korb’s “Highland Cathedral” played by the traditional Scottish bagpipe. This was a surprise piece requested by the Prince of Wales for Armen Sarkissian as a gesture of his appreciation. Turning to Armen and Nouneh Sarkissian, The Prince said: “I could not be more grateful to you for your wonderful vision, energy and generosity”.   

The Prince of Wales underlined that “it is an occasion to strengthen further the strong ties between the United Kingdom and Armenia”. He expressed his admiration for Armenia as the oldest Christian nation in the world and “for its vast and unique architectural heritage”.  He drew the attention of the guests to the fact that it is “a challenge to care for this ‘open air museum’, that is so much a part of the soul of the country, and to continue the tradition it has established.  This is why I am so delighted to be giving this dinner to support the charity, ‘Yerevan My Love’, which will help with the redevelopment and revitalization of some of the oldest parts of the city in a way that preserves and continues traditional Armenian architecture and craftsmanship.  Perhaps this approach will also provide an example and model to be adopted elsewhere in Armenia”.

In explaining the connection of the two charities, The Prince of Wales said “Both projects are examples of what I call heritage-led regeneration – using the rich architectural and craft heritage that both Armenia and the United Kingdom are so fortunate to have to inspire and lift the spirits and also to enhance communities by creating employment and prosperity.”

Some three years ago the Prince of Wales had managed to save a unique historic house and estate in South-West Scotland, together with its contents.  “Dumfries House, as it is called,” said the Prince, “had retained, remarkably, much of the furniture commissioned for it from Thomas Chippendale and from the wonderful contemporary Edinburgh furniture makers William Mathie, Alexander Peter and Francis Brodie”.  By forestalling the separate sales of the House and its contents to private bidders, His Royal Highness has assured that the House and its unique collection of furniture have been “preserved as an entity for the nation and future generations, not only so that people can visit and enjoy the art, craftsmanship and beauty, but also so that saving the House can act as a catalyst for the economic regeneration of the whole local area”.

In his address, Armen Sarkissian put the two charities and the event itself in a broader context.  “The world is becoming smaller and increasingly more burdened with human conflicts, economic challenges and environmental concerns,” he said and asked:  “What kind of future do we want for our children? In the end, I believe, this is the biggest question”.  Along with a cleaner and sustainable environment, Dr Sarkissian underlined that the “preservation of cultural and spiritual heritage is vital for the survival of any nation and, indeed, for humanity.”

From l to r: Prince Charles, Armen Sarkissian, Nouneh Sarkissian.

He thanked His Royal Highness for being a pioneer in finding innovative solutions to many of the critical problems related to the future of the planet and for his visionary leadership and foresight in many critical issues facing not only Britain but the entire globe.  “Thank you, Sir, for your full support and cooperation in making this night a very special occasion in this magnificent historic home of Her Majesty the Queen. We pray for Her Majesty’s good health and many more years of reign, full of blessings for the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth,” said Dr. Sarkissian.

He then expressed his deep appreciation to all the benefactors, patrons, sponsors and supporters for their generous contributions, “but most important, for their participation and faith in this charitable journey together.”
The dinner was held in the vast historic Waterloo Chamber, which was built in tribute to the success of the forces of Great Britain, Austria, Prussia and Russia at the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815 when Napoleon Bonaparte was finally defeated. Official state dinners hosted by The Queen are held in this Chamber. Especially brought from London and displayed throughout the chamber for this special occasion were magnificent gold and silver objects from the royal collection.

Donors of this fundraising event
(in support of first project of “Yerevan My Love”)

Main sponsor and benefactor Dr. & Mrs Armen Sarkissian and family; benefactors: Mr & Mrs Sergey Ambartsumyan (Russia), Mr & Mrs Enzo Benigni (Italy), Mr & Mrs Haig Didizian (UK), Mr & Mrs Samvel Karapetyan (Russia), Ms Louise Manoogian Simone (USA), Mr & Mrs Vatche Manoukian (UK), Mr & Mrs. Joseph Oughourlian (USA), Mr & Mrs Samir Traboulsi (UK), Mr & Mrs Ruben Vardanyan (Russia); Corporate benefactors: ArmRusGasprom (CEO Karen Karapetyan); Energoproekt (CEOs Gagik Zakharyan & Evgeny Bobylev); ENI (CEO Paolo Scaroni), HSBC (Chairman Stephen Green), ITERA (CEO Igor V. Makarov); Patron: Areva (CEO Anne Lauvergeon); Mr Eduardo Eurnekian (Argentina), Wafic Said (UK); Sponsors: and VimpelCom (CEO Boris Nemsic); Mr & Mrs Carl Bazarian (USA), Mr & Mrs David Bezhuashvili (Georgia), Mr Pierre Fattouch (Lebanon), Mr & Mrs Ray Irani (Occidental Petroleum, USA), Mr & Mrs Berge Setrakian (AGBU), Mr & Mrs Igor Tsukanov (Russia), Mr & Mrs Davit Varagyan (Kazakhstan), and Mr Gagik Zakaryan (Russia); Supporters: Mr & Mrs Bedo Eghiayan (UK) and Mr & Mrs Assadour Guzelian (UK).

What is “Yerevan My Love”?

“Yerevan My Love” is an all embracing ‘philosophy’ or culture of life; it is love for one’s hometown in the fullest sense of the word and in the widest implication of the idea,” said charity initiator Armen Sarkissian.  Heritage-led regeneration and reconstruction of architecturally significant buildings is only part of the overall concept.  “It is first and foremost an effort to change attitudes toward the city and engender sense of respect for not only its physical cleanliness, landscape, and public spaces, but also its cultural heritage and values.”  For instance, Yerevan was once known as the “city of Masters” and creativity, where artists, poets, literary figures, architect, musicians, scientists and craftsmen of all sorts thrived. The ultimate goal of “Yerevan My Love” is to work along with every Yerevantsi to preserve the rich heritage and unique character of the city. Future projects include training of young architects in Armenia at leading European institutions, organizing conferences on various aspects of people-centered city development, support of educational institutions, and others.  

Photo captions

Photo 1:  From l to r: Prince Charles, Armen Sarkissian, Nouneh Sarkissian.

Photo 2: From l to r: Armen Sarkissian, Prince Charles, Charles Aznavour, Leon Sayan.

Photo 3:

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  1. Pingback: 'Yereven My Love': Prince Charles Hosts Dinner to Celebrate … | armeniatoday

  2. Shushan Hovhannisyan said:

    What an event. This was a fantastic article to read, but once again the passage in the article was referring to *Yerevantsi* instead of *Armenian*….So lets unite and be Armenians and not only Yerevantsi, because this is about Armenia as a whole and not only Yerevan.

  3. Avetis said:

    The recent news reports about proposed construction of new pipeline and railroad networks in Armenia, General Seyran Ohanian’s official visit to Paris a couple of weeks ago, president Sargsyan’s outstanding speech last week at the Chatham House, and this historic reception in Windsor palace are all directly connected to the Russian sponsored political process taking place between Yerevan and Ankara. Britain, that was never politically interested in Armenia due to its historic desire to have access to Caspian Sea region energy, is now all of a sudden courting Yerevan… Armenia has not been in this good shape geopolitically in centuries. I have never been this hopeful about Armenia’s future. I only wish our peasants begin seeing hope as well, instead of doom and gloom…

  4. Grish Begian said:

    Dear Avetis,
    Armenians contribution toward European civilization have a long history, regardless of today’s weak or strong geopolitical position, where today’s Turkey was Byzantium, and Armenia was the East of Byzantium, together they were representing a well civilized and powerful Eastern Roman Empire. Roman Empire finally destroyed by invading Arabs, Muslims, and Mongolian Turks. Western Europe developed their civilization after the fall of Eastern Roman Empire. It is the time for Europe to look into Armenia and Armenians, and appreciate to a country where sacred past civilization still preserved within Caucasian mountains, the heart of European civilization….

  5. Hovsep (Osik) Movsessian said:

    Some people are dying to find some nonsense event to celebrate, Hooray UK is in our side; Serjik, serjik, serjik……
    No my friends Monarchy is not the center of political gravity in UK; it is just a décor, it looks like that Prince of womanizing badly needed a free party and his staff plucked some fat “Yerevantsi” chickens for his lunch.

    • Artin Avedissian said:

      Although Hovsep (Osik) Movsessian’s comment may be true but the overall outcome of the event is good and it should be regarded as a positive political step forward in support of Armenia!

      We should not criticise the fat “Yerevantsi” chickens when they make the right move!

  6. Sako said:

    Did anyone on this thread consider that this has less to do with geo-political relations than actually being a good charitable cause for social services which are lacking in Armenia? It is this typical pessimism that is holding back Armenia from its true potential and people should generate their energy into doing something useful like these people have done rather than be so cynical and call it “nonsense”. I hope this charity continues for a long time and other people are inspired to do the same – how often do you see the prince of wales supporting causes like this – only good can come of this