martedì 5 aprile 2016

Intriguing India - Part V: The More Recent Royal Tours

After our latest post in the Intriguing India series (you can find the previous posts here: Part I, Part II and Part III), which looked back at the official visits undertaken by the Queen, with less than a week to go before the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge depart for Mumbai, it's now time to take a closer look at more recent royal visits, starting with the one made by the Prince and Princess of Wales in February 1992. Prior to the 1992 tour, Prince Charles had already been to India on his own three times: to New Delhi in 1975, in 1980 when he met Mother Teresa and representing the Queen at the funeral of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in May 1991.

The Prince of Wales with Mother Teresa in Calcutta in 1980. It was during this tour that the Prince visited the Taj Mahal and vowed to return one day with his bride. As it happened, the planned visit with Princess Diana didn't go ahead.

Princess Diana wore many magnificent gowns and colourful dresses during the 1992 tour. Below, in a black silk crepe and diamante paste embroidery Catherine Walker evening dress and the Spencer family tiara at a banquet given by Indian Vice-President Shankar Dayal Sharma:

The dress was later sold at the 1997 auction:

Receiving a warm welcome from a group of Indian dancers in Hyderabad. The Cambridges' tour will undoubtably provide similar photo opportunities, as per the official press release, they'll see dance and musical performances during their visit to Kaziranga National Park in the state of Assam:

The Princess met the sisters of Mother Teresa's mission at a shelter for the sick and the homeless in Calcutta:

The royal couple posing with the Presidential guard in Delhi:
Probably the most iconic look from the tour was another Catherine Walker creation: an evening gown of pink wild silk with a long-sleeved bolero jacket. The dress and bolero both have bodices embroidered with sequins, glass beads and gold braid, echoing Mughal embroidery motifs in a sort of diplomatic dressing nod to the host country which we'll surely see repeated in some way or another during the coming tour. The dress was among those auctioned by Christie's in 1997:

The Princess wore the gown with her emerald and diamond drop earrings...may I just take this opportunity to mention that this tour would be the perfect occasion for Catherine to repeat the stunning emerald demi-parure she debuted in New York City? ;-)

A joint visit to the Taj Mahal had been planned, but Prince Charles was due to attend a business leaders's forum in Bangalore, so the Princess ended up going on her own, and the press had a field day with pictures of her sitting alone on a bench in front of the mausoleoum just three days before Valentine's Day. The cracks in the Wales's marriage where already there for all to see. Before stopping at the Taj Mahal, she'd visited children at a Marie Stopes centre in Agra (above).
The Prince of Wales returned to India on his own eleven years later, in October/November 2003, when he visited New Delhi, Jodhpur, Jaipur and Mumbai. In March 2006 he visited for the first time with the Duchess of Cornwall:

The couple have since returned twice, in October 2010 to attend the Commonwealth Games in Delhi (shown below with President of India Her Excellency Pratibha Devisingh Patil):

and most recently in November 2013. Prince Charles celebrated his 65th birthday on tour, with a party at the British High Commission in Delhi:

Meeting dancers from the Kerala Folklore Theatre and Museum who performed for the royal couple.

As for other members of the Royal Family, the Duke of York undertook a tour of India in 2012 to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. Widely criticized at the time as he flew by private jet, with costs being met by the taxpayer, the tour didn't get off to a particularly auspicious start:

Listening to a guide on a visit to the Dharavi slum in Mumbai.
The Duchess of York has visited a number of times, both privately to attend a wedding in Rajasthan and in her capacity as founder of Key to Freedom, a business structure for women in vulnerable situations in India who can sell their wares through the British retailer Topshop. She and Princess Eugenie visited together in 2012:
The Countess of Wessex undertook a trip to India in September 2013 with sight-saving charity ORBIS, and met with children who have been helped by the charity:

I very much hope you enjoyed this cavalcade through centuries of Anglo-Indian relations!
And now, with only a matter of days left before the start of this latest tour, I'm sure we can all look forward to many more fabulous photo opportunities, glitzy gowns and, in the words of the press release, new memories!

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