London: Britain’s King Charles III has said that he would love to go to India on a State Visit and it should be planned soon, Indian-origin peer Lord Karan Bilimoria revealed following an audience with the monarch ahead of his Coronation ceremony in London on Saturday.
During an interaction with a group of parliamentarians at Westminster Hall in the Houses of Parliament complex on Tuesday as part of a special pre-Coronation reception, Lord Bilimoria said he had the opportunity to raise the topic of India-UK ties and request the 74-year-old King to consider a visit to India.
The UK-based entrepreneur and founder of Cobra Beer, who recently led a trade delegation from Britain to India, believes a State Visit by the King would help turbocharge bilateral relations and also the ongoing free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations.
“I said to His Majesty [King Charles] that we must have a State Visit to India because it would have an enormous impact on bilateral relations and help turbocharge the UK-India FTA negotiations,” Lord Bilimoria told PTI.
“We know that the King is a friend of India and has a great fondness for the country. He said he would love to go to India on a State Visit and that we should plan it soon,” he said.
King Charles last visited India in November 2019, when he was the Prince of Wales, and also celebrated his 71st birthday while in Mumbai.
He has previously spoken of his “great love for India” as the founder of the British Asian Trust – created in 2007 to tackle poverty and hardship in South Asia.
Bilimoria, an ardent advocate for closer India-UK ties who helped create the UK India Industry Taskforce last year, also feels that a visit to India by Britain’s first Indian-origin Prime Minister would bring much-needed momentum to the relationship.
“Prime Minister Rishi Sunak must soon lead a jumbo jet-packed delegation to India, which is long overdue. The last prime ministerial delegation from the UK to India was in 2016, which is quite a gap. It would be just the ticket to celebrate the diaspora living bridge and push forward the relationship,” he added.
As a result of a very curtailed guest list for Westminster Abbey on Saturday, many of the peers and members of Parliament got the chance to interact with King Charles and Queen Camilla at the pre-Coronation reception attended by Sunak and Leader of the Opposition Keir Starmer among others.
“He was in great spirits and really enjoyed his interactions with us. He remembered inaugurating one of our first [steel] plants when he was the Prince of Wales and asked how it was doing,” said Lord Swraj Paul, founder of Caparo Group, who is also a member of the Privy Council – or the formal body of advisers to the monarch.
“This was his chance to interact with some of us more intimately before the big day on Saturday. He greeted us very warmly,” said the 92-year-old leading NRI industrialist.