The grey, grim and wet weather in London on Monday was lifted by a unique image projected of India’s national bird – peacock – across the front façade of Buckingham Palace, attracting thousands of tourists and vehicles milling around the Mall.
The image, visible from all approaches to the palace, was projected from 6pm just as London was winding down.
The rain ensured that the iconic change of guards to the tune of ‘Jai Ho’ from Slumdog Millionaire did not take place, but the royal band shifted to nearby Guards Chapel, where it played the tune that is more popular in the West.
The Indian images wrapped over the palace as Queen Elizabeth and her family played host to nearly 250 celebrities and leading individuals in various fields from India and Britain, including finance minister Arun Jaitley, to launch the UK-India Year of Culture 2017.
The Queen was accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge. Other guests included Kamal Haasan, Gopi, Manish Malhotra, Kapil Dev, violin maestro L Subramaniam and India’s high commissioner YK Sinha.
The projection was designed by Studio Carrom, the Bangalore and London-based design studio. It depicted an image of a peacock with its tail fanned across the façade; within the feathers, dancing figures were seen.
Alan Gemmell, British Council India director, said: “It isn’t every day that you have the opportunity to project an image onto the façade of Buckingham Palace. The peacock, both regal and dramatic, is the perfect metaphor for a year of incredible cultural events connecting UK and India.”
A spokesperson for Studio Carrom said: “We wanted to ensure people knew this was about India, but which would also surprise and intrigue people, encouraging them to follow the UK-India Year of Culture.”
“It needed to be cool and contemporary as well as referencing India’s rich cultural heritage. We were drawn to the idea of performance and dance as it encompasses different people and traditions that make India such a diverse and unique country.”
The Indian guests rubbed shoulders with royalty as chefs from London’s oldest restaurant, Veeraswamy, rustled up nearly 5,000 canapés in the royal kitchen, such as Raj puri, Paneer square in herb crust, Tandoori prawn cocktail, Soya gujjia, Strained yoghurt kebab, pineapple and almond halwa tart and boondi chocolate rock.
Royal chef Mark Flanagan and Veeraswamy chef Uday Salunkhe led a team to prepare a spread of canapés that were examples of the best British and Indian cultures.
Salunkhe said: “The food is a classic case of the amalgamation of the Indian food and British food. Bringing out the Indian flavours in such miniature form was difficult, but after six weeks trial and working over the weekend, it has come out perfectly well today.”
Several events have been planned across Britain and India to mark the year of culture, which was announced during the November 2015 visit to London of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The year marks 70 years of India’s independence, and acquires added significance as Brexit-bound Britain courts India for enhanced trade after losing access to the European single market.