Pakistani community hero attends King’s Coronation on special invitation

Atif Ali says it was a surreal experience to receive the invitation and then attending King's coronation ceremony itself

Murtaza Ali Shah
British-Pakistani youth Atif Ali. — Photo by author
British-Pakistani youth Atif Ali. — Photo by author

LONDON: British-Pakistani youth Atif Ali, who was invited by the Royal family to attend the Coronation of King Charles III, termed his experience of receiving an invitation to attend the ceremony "surreal".

Ali was amongst a select few who were invited to attend the King's Coronation at Westminster Abbey on Saturday (May 6). Ali was recognised two years ago by Queen Elizabeth II for his work during the COVID-19 lockdown when he played a great role in helping those in need in the community.

“I was invited to the ceremony out of the blue. The atmosphere was fantastic and it was a really nice feeling. At first I thought the invitation was a spam email,” Ali told Geo News, expressing his disbelief at being invited.

The picture of the invite received by British-Pakistani youth Atif Ali  for the Kings Coronation ceremony. —Photo by author
The picture of the invite received by British-Pakistani youth Atif Ali  for the King's Coronation ceremony. —Photo by author

“I am overjoyed to attend the ceremony. This showed the diversity and plurality of Great Britain. I felt proud when I received the invitation. It was a historical moment. This happened after the 1950's. There was a huge excitement and apprehension inside. There was fear too but everything went well,” he said.

In 2021, Ali was awarded the British Empire Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for his services to the community in Birmingham during COVID-19. He was among the 2,000 people invited to attend the ceremony on Thursday.

Ali was recognised for his work with disabled children and adults during the pandemic.

“My father came here in the 1980s. He was a factory worker. He is proud that I was invited by Buckingham Palace. He never thought that a member of our family would be at Westminster Abbey to attend the coronation. My cousins keep asking me to send photos of Kate, William and Harry. I told them we can’t take photos inside so they should watch it on TV!”

Birmingham resident Atif, aged 28, who was born and raised in Small Heath, set up the Birmingham Pakistani Report in 2022. 

The report which will be released in June 2023, will provide the needs and wants of the Pakistani population in Birmingham. He has been working with the local council to help the vulnerable groups and has been rewarded for his selfless work.