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July 28, 2015

Mamata Banerjee becomes first CM from India to get an official reception at Buckingham Palace

Mamata Banerjee becomes first CM from India to get an official reception at Buckingham Palace

Mamata Banerjee on Monday became the first chief minister from an Indian state to get an official reception at Buckingham Palace, Britain’s most iconic address. Prince Andrew hosted an evening tea for the Chief Minister at the house of the monarch.

A fruitful meeting

The Chief Minister had a 40-minute one-on-one interview with Prince Andrew, who described her as “a very dynamic leader, leading a dynamic government, sowing the transformation of Bengal”. The prince, it was learnt, has gifted the chief minister a bag with motifs of Buckingham Palace on it.

Mamata herself said later: “I had been to London once before and have walked past Buckingham Palace, never knowing that I would enter it one day . Prince Andrew gave me a very warm reception, and even came all the way out to see me off. The prince inquired about the changing economic and political face of Bengal and our initiatives around tax collection. He has plans to work with women of Bengal under the aegis of a few of his NGOs.

“I apprised him of all our women-friendly schemes like Muktir Alo (a plan to rehabilitate trafficked women and sex workers willing to leave the profession), and the work we’ve done for the transgender community. Buckingham Palace is a monument which has been at the centre of some of the world’s historic decisions.”

Personalised gift

Titian, Leonardo da Vinci, Dürer, Rembrandt and van Dyck line up the walls of Britain’s most coveted art gallery -the state room of Buckingham Palace. The hallowed walls may soon have another addition: the work of Mamata Banerjee, the artist.

The Bengal Chief Minister gifted a hand-painted work of hers to the Duke of York -Prince Andrew -second son and third child of Queen Elizabeth.

Mamata Banerjee has won the heart of the British royal family by carrying with her special gifts for princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana. She handed over some clothes to Indian High Commissioner Ranjan Mathai for the baby to be passed on to the royal family.

Parallels with Gandhi

The Chief Minister drew comparisons to none other than Mahatma Gandhi on the first day of her maiden visit to Britain, braving a cold, and dark British summer day in her everyday attire: white cotton sari and Hawaii chappals, with a casually draped shawl her only concession to the weather.