King Charles III, all set to be crowned as UK’s monarch tomorrow, is believed to have a special link with India. Having visited India 10 times, going on a ride in the Delhi Metro, meeting Mumbai’s dubbawallas at Churchgate Railway station and meeting the late President of India, APJ Abdul Kalam, India and King Charles III go a long way back.
A life member of ‘The Bhavan’- a cultural centre for celebrating Indian art in London, King Charles has a liking for Indian art. Mir Mishra Kaushik, the former director of Akademi UK, recalls an incident when King Charles, who was a Prince back then, revealed his love for Indian classical music. “The King, when he was Prince, visited my office when the building was being inaugurated. He is a great admirer of Sitar. Pandit Ravishankar performed for him several times, as did Sultan Khan. In my office, there was a sarangi. When he visited, he ran to the instrument and asked me- Oh do you know Sultan Khan and I said Yes! Of course. I think many in the Indian diaspora would agree that he is a friend of India’s,” said Mishra.
In April 2018, King Charles hosted Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Science Museum in London to launch an Ayurvedic Centre of Excellence. As the Founding Chairman of the British Asian Trust, King Charles is often seen engaging in charitable work. Many Indian expatriates in the UK find him an accessible royal.
King Charles, 74, first visited India in 1980, when he was 32. A former communications officer at the Buckingham Palace recalls, “The first time he visited India as a 32-year-old bachelor where he set hearts aflutter when he was kissed by a Bollywood actress. He’s got a special connection with India and the Indian diaspora here. He carries out so many engagements with them. I am certain the fantastic relationship will continue.”
King Charles’ coronation ceremony will be attended by several Indian expatriates. Among the 48 King’s scholars who will proclaim the King in Latin will be Raaghav Das, 16, an Indian-origin student of Westminster School in London. Das is thrilled for the opportunity and feels this is his way of validating the hard work and Indian values held by his family, including his grandparents back in Bihar, India.
”My grandparents have worked very hard to reach this position and I want to show them that anything can happen and that from then to now, the progress has been immense. I hope they will be proud and happy to watch me sing at the Abbey,” said Das.
In West London, near Southall which is often referred to as ‘Little India’, preparations are on to serve a special feast for thousands on Sunday to celebrate King Charles’ coronation. The feast will also have some of King Charles’ favourite Punjabi dishes. Gulu Anand, restaurateur at Brilliant Restaurant said, “King Charles has come here 4 times. He once asked us about how there could be tandoori salmon, and I asked him to try it. He loved the burst of flavours. He also ate chana masala, and both he and Camilla signed the 10-item menu.”