The Queen with Narendra Modi at Buckingham Palace
Prime minister Narendra Modi on Friday (13) met the Queen over a luncheon at Buckingham Palace for the first time during his high-profile visit to the UK.
Modi arrived at the palace in a Jaguar – manufactured by the Tata Motors-owned Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) – on the second day of his maiden three-day official visit to Britain.
He was welcomed by the Master of the Household, the Queen’s representative, as he entered the Palace with the words “A very warm welcome to you, sir.”
The 89-year-old Queen greeted Modi, shaking hands with him before they moved on to inspect items from the Royal Collection, brought out specially for the prime minister’s visit. These included photographs of the Queen dating back to her India visit when she was the chief guest at the country’s Republic Day parade in 1961.
Modi presented the Queen with award-winning Darjeeling tea from the Makaibari tea estate in West Bengal and fine organic honey from Jammu and Kashmir.
The royal chefs at Buckingham Palace had prepared a vegetarian meal on the occasion.
Soon after the lunch, Modi made his way to Wembley Stadium to address a 60,000-strong diaspora gathering. Both Modi and his British counterpart David Cameron were driving to the world-famous arena in Jaguar Land Rover vehicles as another symbol of India-UK partnership.
The two leaders have been by each other’s side for most of the three-day visit.
During their more private meeting at Chequers, Cameron’s country residence in Buckinghamshire, the duo shared an “intimate dinner” and morning stroll around the grounds. Modi’s vegetarian tastes were well catered for – Cameron’s chefs had prepared a British autumn salad of beets and roots as a starter followed by a main course of porcini mushroom pulao, tarka dal and kachumba salad with mango pudding for dessert.
Modi planted an oak sapling and also presented Cameron with a copy of David Omissi’s Indian Voices of the Great War in view of the latter’s fondness for Robert Graves’ work on the First World War, Goodbye to All That.