The Prince of Wales has received a birthday present in miniature from a group of Indian schoolchildren – bonsai fairy gardens.
Charles spent his 71st birthday in Mumbai, meeting youngsters supported in their education by a charitable foundation working in collaboration with his British Asian Trust.
Back in the UK the prince’s sons and daughters-in-law paid tribute by releasing touching pictures of the heir to the throne on social media with goodwill messages.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex posted a new photograph showing their son Archie with Harry and Charles, while an image from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge featured the prince holding grandson Prince Louis’s hands as he is cradled by Kate.
The children had been stumped over what to give the future king but came up with the idea of a present featuring the stories of Hindu deity Krishna, told with tiny figures in three bonsai gardens.
Their school has been supported by the Piramal Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Piramal Group led by Indian billionaire industrialist Ajay Piramal.
His wife, Dr Swati Piramal, said: “What can you give a prince? What can the kids give him? So they thought of the bonsai gardens.”
She said one tiny garden tells the story of Krishna stealing butter, the second depicts the deity being born in a jail and his father escaping with him as a baby, and the last describes his time as a cow herder.
Dr Piramal said: “He really loved it when I showed it to him, because of course in England there’s a culture of fairy gardens, there are gnomes, but this is unique because this is Krishna’s fairy garden.”
Charles’s two-day trip to India ended with a garland of flowers being placed around his neck and he clasped his hands in the traditional Hindu Namaste greeting when a boy gave him a flower.
The children sang Happy Birthday to the prince as he cut a large chocolate cake.
He offered one young girl a piece of chocolate sponge from the end of the knife, and could not resist licking his fingers afterwards.
Singer Katy Perry rubbed shoulders with the prince in Mumbai on Wednesday when she joined him at a meeting of his British Asian Trust’s advisory board, and she wished him a happy birthday in an Instagram post.
The celebrity, who performed at a Mumbai festival this week, wrote: “Happiest 71st His Royal Highness Prince Charles @clarencehouse. It was a pleasure spending a little time with you and many brilliant Indian minds looking for incredible solutions to making India a more wonderful place through your organization…”
Before his birthday celebrations at an exclusive hotel on Mumbai’s waterfront, Charles joined a group of prominent Indian business leaders in a nearby room for a roundtable discussion on sustainable markets.
In September he set up the Sustainable Markets Council – with support from the World Economic Forum – to bring together major financial institutions, businesses and governments to make market mechanisms “work for not against sustainability”.
Before the private meeting began Charles told the group: “If I may say, you might not know but I’ve been trying – I don’t know, for the last 35 to 40 years – to encourage corporate, social and environmental responsibility and it’s been a bit of an uphill struggle.
“Particular in terms of trying to raise awareness amongst the financial services and capital markets sector about the importance of tackling these huge challenges around climate change, global warming, resource depletion, deforestation – all these issues.”
Charles is spending an undisclosed period privately in India before he starts a tour of the South Pacific, lasting more than a week, on Sunday.
He will spend the majority of his time in New Zealand with wife Camilla before making solo trips to the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.