Yesterday evening, The Queen and Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were treated to a display of Indian treasures from the Royal Collection as Her Majesty hosted a British-Indian reception at Buckingham Palace to celebrate the UK-Indian Year of Culture.
Stars from the worlds of sport, fashion, and the arts were invited the Palace to launch the UK-Indian Year of Culture 2017, which celebrates the close ties between the UK and India, and the 70th anniversary of India’s independence
Special guests included Kunal Nayyar of The Big Bang Theory, singer/songwriter Indiraa, Sukshnder Shinda, designer Anita Dongre, Neha Kapur, Shaimak Davar, Ayesha Dharker, former India cricket captain Kapil Dev, actress Nina Wadia, Rio Ferdinand, and sitar player Anoushka Shankar, and her husband, director Joe Wright.
The Duke of Edinburgh, The Earl of Wessex, Princess Eugenie of York, The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, Princess Alexandra, and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent were also in attendance.
The Queen and Prince Philip last visited the Commonwealth country in 1997, but Prince William and Catherine returned from their official visit to India and Bhutan last March, where they spent time at the Taj Mahal, Ghandi’s house, and met the Prime Minister.
Items on display included gifts from previous visits to India, Indian gifts and manuscripts from the Royal Library. A wedding gift to Princess Elizabeth in 1947 – a shawl woven by Ghandi himself (below) – was also to be seen, which The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge seemed enthralled by the gift.
Catherine wore a pair of Anita Dongre earrings to the reception, and was seen speaking to the designer, before guests were entertained with traditional dance.
Head chef at Buckingham Palace, Mark Flanagan, worked with Uday Salunkhe, executive chef at Veeraswamy, said to be the UK’s oldest Indian restaurant, to create the canapes influenced by both culinary cultures; they spent six weeks devising the menu.
These bites included raj puri – fried unleavened bread with yoghurt herbs – and boondi chocolate rock, fried chickpea flour kernels covered in chocolate. The British morsels were salmon blinis, and rhubarb and creme brulee tartlets.
Princess Eugenie introduced her grandmother, The Queen, to Aloka Mitra, head of the Women’s Interlink Foundation. The organisation works with women and girls who have been trafficked; The Duke of York launched Key to Freedom in 2012, in partnership with the foundation, as the Indian women created garments for Topshop, with profits helping more women.
A peacock – the national bird of India – image was projected onto the facade of Buckingham Palace, greeting guests as they arrived for the reception. The bird’s feathers were created from dancing figures. It was commissioned by the British Council and the Indian High Commission.
Earlier in the day, during the Changing of Guard, the Band of the Grenadier Guards played a selection of Indian themed music, including soundtracks from the movie “Slumdog Millionaire” and “Jai Ho”.
Various other events will take place in both the UK and India to mark this special relationship and cultural year.