Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Queen Elizabeth II over lunch on Friday, the second day of his visit to Britain that has seen the two sides finalise business deals worth 9 billion pounds.
Modi, clad in a white kurta-pyjama and a maroon Nehru jacket, drove to Buckingham Palace in a Jaguar – built by Jaguar Land Rover, a subsidiary of India’s Tata Motors.
The 89-year-old Queen greeted Modi at the grand entrance of her London palace. After lunch, they viewed artefacts from the Royal Collection which were brought out especially for Modi’s visit.
Photos tweeted by India’s external affairs ministry showed Modi shaking hands with the Queen and exchanging pleasantries.
“Building on the bonds of history. PM @narendra Modi calls on Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,” the external affairs ministry spokesperson tweeted.
A ceremonial ride in a gilded carriage with the Queen, associated with an official state visit, was missing though officials said the intimate setting of a lunch with her was an indication of the closeness of ties between India and Britain.
The Prime Minister’s official Twitter handle tweeted that Modi presented to the Queen several photographs taken during her first visit to India in January-February 1961, when she was the chief guest at the Republic Day parade.
One of the photos showed the Queen cutting a cake in Chennai on February 19, 1961 to celebrate the first birthday of Prince Andrew, while another showed her riding an elephant during a procession in Varanasi.
Modi also presented the Queen Darjeeling tea from West Bengal, organic honey from Jammu and Kashmir and Tanchoi stoles from Varanasi.
After the lunch, the Prime Minister will head to the iconic Wembley Stadium to address a 60,000-strong audience during the “UK Welcomes Modi” event.
Earlier in the day, Modi and his British counterpart David Cameron attended a meeting of the UK-India CEO Forum at Lancaster House. Yesterday, the two countries said they had finalised deals worth 9 billion pounds and a civil nuclear pact.
Modi began the day by continuing his parleys with Cameron at Chequers, the countryside retreat of the British Prime Minister. Modi was hosted by Cameron to a private dinner on Thursday and spent the night at Chequers.
(With inputs from agencies)