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King Charles can revitalise Britain’s soft power

(Alamy)

3 min read

This month I embarked on a visit to India along with my parliamentary colleagues on the India (Trade and Investment) All-Party Parliamentary Group. I have been to India many times, seen the huge economic growth particularly over the last 20 years or so, and today India’s influence in the world is clear.

The welcome afforded to the parliamentary group from Indian ministers and officials was incredibly warm. It had been a long time since such visits had taken place, of course impacted by Covid and other global events, but we were reminded regularly during the visit of the value and importance of face-to-face engagement.

At every opportunity we were reminded that Great Britain remained an important partner and friend to India. However, it was noted that our soft power – once the envy of the world – needs a reboot in response to the shifting global dynamics of emerging nations such as India. The question we were asking ourselves was, what should we be doing more of to strengthen Britain’s position in the face of these new dynamics?

The Commonwealth shows current and future generations the strength of shared common values and causes

As the country celebrates the coronation of His Majesty King Charles III, we should reflect on how the nation has changed throughout the reign of the late Queen Elizabeth II. How does Great Britain use that change to strengthen her global position today? Our country, with deeply embedded tradition and pageantry, has been on show across the world due to the coronation. It was a great opportunity to showcase the very best of what we have to offer the world and yet there are so many gems that remain hidden. 

The APPG is already planning our next visit to India as we look to build on our collaborative partnership through education and technology. I want Britain to showcase the beautiful craftsmanship so dedicatedly preserved by our livery companies who safeguard the artisan skills of centuries past. A shining example are the glaziers and painters of glass, or the engagement through student exchange programmes in sport or academia, which help build lifelong relationships across the globe. We cannot afford to allow the dilution of our greatest strength, the use of our soft power.

Since the pandemic, it has been a time for reflection for us as individuals and the country as a whole. The coronation marks a significant time in Great Britain’s history and where we as citizens see ourselves in the making of that history. Our new monarch provides us with an opportunity to establish stronger and outward-reaching connections through unique institutions like the Commonwealth, showing current and future generations the strength of shared common values and causes.

l join my family and friends in celebrating the next chapter of our country’s shared history, raising a toast to a brighter and stronger future for Great Britain’s place in the world and how we ensure we play our part in that future. 

 

Baroness Verma, Conservative peer and former international development minister

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