British pomp and pageantry was on full display today as the Queen welcomed the Indian president toWinsor Castle today.
Pratibha Patil – India’s first female president – was greeted by the Monarch and Duke of Edinburgh on a royal dais in the centre of the Berkshire town as a thunderous royal salute was fired nearby by the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery.
The Asian leader and her husband Devisingh Ransingh Shekhawat had travelled from London in a fleet of cars with the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall.
After the greeting the party paused on the dais for a few moments for the Indian national anthem to be played before leaving for Windsor Castle where the president and her partner will stay as guests of the Queen.
The royal party travelled through the streets of Windsor in horse drawn carriages with the Household Cavalry in their shining breast plates and plumed helmets providing a Sovereign’s Escort.
The flag of India and Britain’s Union flag were hung from a succession of lamp posts in the town and some of the route was lined by guardsmen, in their scarlet tunics and bearskins, from the Grenadier, Scots, Irish and Coldstream regiments.
A guard of honour made up of the 1st Battalion Irish Guards was waiting in the castle’s quadrangle to be inspected by the India head of state when she arrived.
Philip motioned to the president to step forward and examine the soldiers and the 88-year-old Duke took the elbow of the 75-year-old stateswoman to help her from the dais where they had been standing.
The diminutive Asian leader, who wore a sari and cream coloured overcoat, was dwarfed by the guardsmen as she inspected the troops lined up in two rows.
After the ceremony the Queen escorted her guests inside the castle for a private lunch which will be followed later this evening by a lavish white-tie banquet.