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Thursday, 6 June, 2002, 17:18 GMT 18:18 UK
Royal first as Queen visits temple
Queen meets Hindu leaders
The Queen chatted with worshippers at the temple
The Queen visited a Hindu temple for the first time in Britain and did so in her stocking feet.

She removed her shoes as a sign of respect as she and the Duke of Edinburgh entered the Highgatehill Murugan Temple in Archway, north London.

The Queen was in the capital on the latest leg of her Golden Jubilee tour of the UK.

Royal feet
Queen slipped off her shoes to enter temple

After being welcomed with garlands of yellow flowers, the Royal couple were blessed with peace and long life by four high priests.

The visit was intended to show the inclusive nature of the monarchy and the Queen's respect for all religions in Britain, not just the Church of England, of which she is head.

She has previously visited Hindu temples in India but it is the first time she has been to one in this country.

Temple leader Suganya Naveenan said: "It's made people feel valued and we are honoured she chose to come here."


It's a recognition not only of the Hindu faith, but of the Tamil community, so we are very proud

Perin Nathan
Worshipper

The garland of fresh yellow marigolds and purple chrysanthemums was handed to her by Jayakanthi Sithamparapillai and the Queen placed it over her arm.

Then two women held a tray with three candles and leaves in front of her to "cleanse" her senses and bless her with a long reign.

The Queen slipped on thin slippers over her tights, while the Duke padded around the temple chatting to worshippers in his socks.

In typical style, he asked a Tamil priest if he was a Tamil Tiger, the militant fighters in Sri Lanka.

Shrine to the six-headed god Murugan
The elaborate shrine to the six-headed god Murugan

The priest replied: "No, we're priests. We're not associated with violence."

The priest later added: "It was just friendly, just a joke. We were not offended.

"We blessed him with a long life and health and peace."

The Queen and Duke were entertained with a traditional dance by three barefooted girls.

One child in the crowd, five-year-old Abeyan Ahilan, tugged the Queen's coat and she asked him: "Did you like the dancing?"

Tamil priests
The priests who blessed the Queen with peace

Worshipper Perin Nathan said: "We are very much honoured because this is the first Hindu temple she has been to here.

"It's a recognition not only of the Hindu faith, but of the Tamil community, so we are very proud."

Shree Om Parkash Sharma, president of the National Council of Hindu Temples, said: "It's a great pleasure to welcome the gracious Queen.

"We all love her and she's a great inspiration for the stability of this country."

The Queen later visited Lambeth Palace for a garden party with 250 schoolchildren.

Earlier in the day she paid tribute to public transport workers who worked on the jubilee bank holidays with a visit to a north London bus garage.

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"The Queen accepted prayers for a long and happy future"

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06 Jun 02 | England
09 May 02 | England
06 Jun 02 | UK
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