Cambridge

This is what happened when Cambridge was visited by royalty today

A unique Cambridge research centre dedicated to fostering relations between religions has been given a royal opening.

The Woolf Institute, at Westminster College, was opened by the Princess Royal today (Monday April 16), the climax of a 20-year vision by its founder and the man it is named after.

The £9 million centre is devoted to interfaith relations, and will host a team of 20 researchers and educators whose aim is to improve relations between religion and society.

The building was short-listed for the Cambridge Design and Construction Award and has been entirely paid for by charitable donations across the three Abrahamic faiths.

She also visited Farmland Museum and Denny Abbey

The men behind it are its founder/director Dr Ed Kessler, who has been at the organisations helm for 20 years, and Lord Harry Woolf.

A spokeswoman said: "The institute will feed academic research into practical education programmes that target audiences as diverse as the police, doctors, clergy, diplomats and policy makers."

Princess Anne opening the Woolf interfaith institute. Picture: David Johnson

In a speech at the opening ceremony Dr Kessler said it would offer "top class research which makes an impact where it matters: in communities across the UK and around the world."

Princess Anne was in good spirits. Picture: David Johnson

He added: "We will continue to convene conversations and bring together diverse voices around the faith issues that are defining the 21st century."

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Dr Kessler announced the launch of an annual Woolf Institute Quiet Citizen Award, which will honour "an exceptional individual who contributes to their community, often without recognition, through quiet acts of kindness."

Princess Anne takes a tour of the Farmland Museum in Waterbeach.

Princess Anne was given a brief overview of the institute's work by a group of students and researchers.

Among them was research and outreach officer Dunya Habash, whose family originate from Syria and whose Living in Harmony project examines how musical encounters between Jewish and Muslim communities in Iraq and Syria can restore broken relations.

The Princess Royal toured the grounds amd unveiled a plaque to mark her visit and the anniversary.

Ms Habash presented the Princess Royal with a bouquet of flowers before she left.

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The princess was rounded off her trip to Cambridge with a visit to Denny Abbey Farmland Museum.

She met with volunteers at the museum.

The museum is celebrating the 21st anniversary of its partnership with English Heritage.

She toured the grounds, unveiled a plaque to mark her visit and the anniversary, and met representatives from both organisations as well as museum supporters and volunteers.

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