PRINCE Philip visited Harrow this morning to celebrate the 150th anniversary of a Europe-wide Zoroastrian organisation.
The Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe, based at the Zoroastrian Centre, in Alexandra Avenue, is the leading organisation for followers of the religion in the UK, and was founded on October 6, 1861.
Zoroastrianism is one of the world's oldest monotheistic religions, and was founded by the Prophet Zoroaster in ancient Iran around 3,500 years ago.
His Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh, visited the centre with Indian businessmen Lord Karan Bilimoria and director of Tata Industries, Farrokh Kavarana.
He was greeted by Malcolm Deboo, president of the Zoroastrian Centre, and was given a presentation of the history of the religion through a slide show.
He was given gifts including a commemorative medallion to mark the 150th anniversary and a cream woollen shawl as well as books about the religion.
He said: “Thank you very much for inviting me. I am delighted to join you in this celebration of 150 years of this organisation.
"What you’re heard is the tremendous contribution the Zoroastrians have made to this country even before 150 years ago.
“It’s a great pleasure to be here today and I do congratulate you on what you’ve achieved over the last 150 years.”
He joked: “I have to say 150 years is peanuts really but I hope you are still here in 2000 years time.”
Mr Bilimoria chairman of Cobra Beer, praised Prince Philip and the Queen for the “energy” they put into their work.
He said: “It is a great honour, pleasure and privilege to have you with us here today to celebrate our 150th anniversary. I remember as a child seeing photographs in our houses of your visit to India in 1961.
“One of the stories my parents told me was during the visit it was Prince Andrew’s first birthday and my father had to arrange what was called a trunk call in those days so you could wish him a happy birthday."
Mr Bilamoria said there were up to 6,000 members of the Zoroastrian faith in the UK.
He said: "However small we are I never cease to be proud of our community.
"We seem to do well in everything, whether in the armed forces or in music.
“We have always excelled in sports and of course in politics and business.”
Prince Philip also presented commemorative medallions to members of the congregation for service to the community and gave gifts to three members, Nariman Contractor, Dara Marchant and priest for 74 years, Jal Kakaria, to celebrate their 90th birthdays this year.
Prince Philip himself celebrated the landmark birthday in June.
After the presentations, the audience stood to sing the national anthem before Prince Philip was taken to meet young members of the congregation.