So how have David Cameron and Narendra Modi become “new best friends?”
Political observers say this is just about the most intriguing friendship in international relations at the moment.
At Wembley Stadium, the two prime ministers hugged each other on stage. Theirs did not come across as a political hug – they seemed genuinely pleased to be in each other’s company.
After Cameron had done the warm-up act for Modi, he did not slip out of the back and return to Downing Street.
Instead he took a back seat, next to SamCam (who looked especially fetching in a scarlet sari), put on ear phones and listened to Modi’s entire speech.
Greater friendship hath no prime minister than that he should listen to translation from the Hindi of a Modi bhashan (speech) for over 90 minutes.
In his introduction, Cameron said Modi’s critics had said he was just a chaiwalla but he had proved them wrong. Good days were zaroor (of course) coming, he declared – his pronunciation of zaroor was near perfect. His command of Gujarati – kemcho – wasn’t bad either.
Then, it was Modi’s turn to speak about Cameron. Modi acknowledged: “David Cameron has welcomed us very warmly and I would like to express sincere thanks for the welcome.”
He went on: “It seems David Cameron has fully integrated himself with the British Indian community. You can feel and see his feelings. I would like to thank him for his feelings.
“The relationship you have with him; the way he has come to learn about India through you. To have that kind of respect for India, you can feel it in his words. And which Indian would not be proud; there stands a statue of Mahatma Gandhi before the British parliament.” Which had been fixed by Cameron.
The latter scarcely left Modi’s side from the moment they met on Thursday morning in the Drum (round courtyard) of the Treasury for the guard of honour. They were together at Downing Street, and then Modi had a vegetarian meal at Chequers, where he stayed overnight.
Earlier that day, as the two prime ministers stood side by side in the Locarno Room of the Foreign Office for their joint press conference, many journalists wondered what they had in common. On the face of it, nothing.
At the age of seven Cameron went to a prep school, Heath-erdown in Winkfield (near Ascot) in Berkshire, which counts Prince Andrew and Prince Edward among its alumni. At 13, he went to Eton College, which his father and elder brother had also attended. One of his contemporaries was Boris Johnson.
With three A grades (in the History of Art, History, and Economics with Politics) and a 1 in scholarship level Economics and Politics, it was a smooth passage to Brasenose College, Oxford, where he got in with an Exhibition. Cameron graduated with a First in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE).
At Oxford he was a member of the Bullingdon Club, “which has a reputation for an outlandish drinking culture associated with boisterous behaviour and damaging property”.
By and by, after fooling around with a lot of pretty girls (according to Lord Ashcroft’s unauthorised autobiography Call Me Dave), he “married Samantha Gwendoline Sheffield, the elder daughter of Sir Reginald Sheffield, 8th Baronet (a landowner descended from King Charles II of England) and Annabel Lucy Veronica Jones”.
Cameron is not yet 50, while Modi is 65, the first post-independence Indian PM. As a child Modi helped his father sell tea at the Vadnagar railway station, and later ran a tea stall with his brother near a bus terminus. It is easiest to say he was educated in the university of life, although the nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) had an input.
At their joint press conference, when some short-pitched stuff was aimed at Modi, Cameron tried to bat for him.
“Prime minister Cameron can I ask you, how comfortable do you feel welcoming prime minister Modi to this country, given that for the first two years of your premiership he was not permitted to visit this country because of his record as chief minister of Gujarat?” asked the man from The Guardian (who else?).
“I’m pleased to welcome prime minister Modi here,” replied Cameron. “He comes with (the support) from the people of India who made him prime minister with a record and historic majority. But we are now discussing the future partnership between Britain and India, both of us backed by our countries for this parliament to work together to strengthen the partnership that we have.”
Back at the St James Court Taj Hotel, senior Indian officials who had come with Modi admitted they were somewhat taken aback by the bluntness of some of the questions directed at Modi.
The choice of journalists was “fixed” but not the questions, Eastern Eye assured the offic-ials. In that sense it was not British conspiracy.
Finally, Cameron made the ultimate gesture of friendship. With the Chinese president Xi Jinping, the Duchess of Cambridge was forced to sit next to him at the Buckingham Palace banquet. She was also made to wear a red dress in the colours of the Chinese flag.
But for Modi, Cameron ann-ounced Catherine and William would visit India in spring 2016. Lunch with the Queen was nice enough but there could be nothing bigger than sending the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to India. Somewhere along the line, Catherine might even be encouraged to wear a sari or a salwar kameez.
There was a significant line in the formal announcement from Kensington Palace: “The visit is being undertaken at the request of Her Majesty’s Government and will be the first time The Duke and Duchess have visited the country.”
Decoded into plain English, that says: “Cameron has done this for his best mate Modi”.