Queen Elizabeth II on Monday hosted a reception at the Buckingham Palace to launch the UK-India Year of Culture 2017 with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley representing the Indian government at the historic event.
Jaitley was joined by an Indian delegation that included the likes of actors Kamal Hassan, Suresh Gopi, cricket legend Kapil Dev, singer and actor Gurdas Mann, fashion designers Manish Arora and Manish Malhotra and sitar maestro Anoushka Shankar, at the grand event this evening.
"That my name was recommended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a huge honour. This is a great occasion to celebrate the shared history of India and the UK. The English language is the best example of that and I often refer to it as a great Indian language that unites us all," said Tamil actor- filmmaker Hassan.
"This is the kind of celebration of India-UK culture that should have happened long ago," said Kapil.
Indian High Commissioner to the UK Y K Sinha invited the Indian cricket legend back to the UK in June to launch a special cricketing event celebrating India-UK ties as part of the UK-India Year of Culture events, which he accepted.
The 90-year-old Queen was joined by her husband, Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, and grandson Prince William and his wife Kate.
High-profile guests from various fields were greeted to the main foyer of the palace with a special Indian dance performance on the steps titled 'Ekam', presented by the Akademi and choreographed by Arunima Kumar.
It showcased the cultural diversity of India in the form of dance.
Musicians from the Bhavan Centre in London performed Indian music with Balu Raghuraman on the violin and Shri Balachander on the Mridangam.
"As we celebrate this 70th year of Indian independence, we remember the soulful soul of Mahatma Gandhi. I am looking forward to having eye contact with the legendary Queen who is the longest reigning British monarch," Malayalam superstar and politician Gopi said.
"We were under this regime and we have lots of good things they initiated in India, which we carry on with pride…but we built over that and are zooming to one of the most developed nations," he said.
UK-based Indian-origin filmmaker Gurinder Chadha described the evening as a "perfect combination" of the two cultures while singer Mann said, "I am ready to do the bhangra if I get the chance".
The guests pored over unique displays from the Royal Collection, including ancient Indian manuscripts such as the 'Shahnama' and some Persian calligraphy, and Indian ornaments.
The event included the projection of a unique artwork on to the Buckingham Palace facade of India's national bird — the peacock.
Royal chef Mark Flanagan and the chef from Veeraswamy, the UK's oldest Indian restaurant, Uday Salunkhe, led a kitchen team at the palace to prepare a special spread of canapes.
The Indian dishes prepared were essentially Anglo Indian in taste, with flavours from different regions of India.
"Today's 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," Salunkhe said.