Indian couple's party to benefit British charities

London, Aug 16 (IANS) A party to be hosted by London-based Indian billionaire philanthropist couple Cyrus and Priya Vandrevala at Buckingham Palace - residence of Queen Elizabeth - in November will benefit various British charities.

In a rare gesture, the British monarch has granted her consent to the Vandrevalas to hold the event to celebrate the birthday of her heir Prince Charles, who will be 65. Charles, like Jawaharlal Nehru, was born on Nov 14. The party, though, will take place Nov 21.

Charles is patron to innumerable charities. Among them is the London Philharmonic Orchestra, which will perform at the event as well as be one of the beneficiaries.

The UK's Daily Mail newspaper reported: "The concert is being funded by billionaire 'Bollygarchs' and philanthropists Cyrus and Priya Vandrevala."

The Vandrevalas are underwriting the entire cost of the function - which will include a champagne reception and a banquet - running into hundreds of thousands of pounds. All proceeds from the occasion will be donated to charities. The full list of beneficiaries is as yet unavailable from Charles' press office at Clarence House, though.

"Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall (his wife Camilla) have grown to like the Indian-born couple in recent months," the Mail added. It went on to say: "The Vandrevalas are close to Prince Andrew (Charles' younger brother) and are patrons of the Elephant Family, the charity run by Camilla's brother Mark Shand (to save Asian, mainly Indian elephants). They have been to tea at Highgrove (Charles' country retreat) and met the Prince on several occasions."

The Vandrevalas' own charitable Foundation supports mental health care, including initiatives in this respect in western India.

Cyrus is described by Spear's - a leading wealth management authority in Europe - as "an Indian private equity investor and philanthropist who started investing in technology businesses in his 20s and now has global investments in a multiple of public and private companies ranging from telecom, infrastructure, energy, real estate, food and cement". It put his wealth at US$9 billion, which makes him one of the richest overseas Indians.

His wife Priya, herself an entrepreneur, was chairperson of the real estate group at the World Economic Forum in Davos. This group included representative from multinational companies such as ABB, Emaar and HCC.

But the Vandrevalas' glamorous life has not been without trouble. Priya, daughter of Niranjan Hiranandani of the Hiranandani Group, has been at odds with her father and brother. The UK's Times newspaper reported: "The family's huge wealth, estimated by Forbes at nearly US$1.3 billion, does not appear to have made them happy. Relations between the siblings broke down three years ago after Ms Vandrevala, 34, accused her father, Niranjan, and brother of collaborating to break a 2006 business agreement, which stipulated that they would only purchase and develop property in India on an exclusive basis with her."

Last week, the legal dispute arising from the disagreement was settled in Priya's favour by London barrister Cherie Blair, wife of former British prime minister Tony Blair, who was invited by the two parties to adjudicate in the matter.


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