The week-long tour of India and neighbouring Bhutan will be undertaken by Prince William, 33, and Kate, 34, to cement closer political, cultural and commercial ties with the two nations, starting in Mumbai on Sunday and ending at the Taj Mahal on the following Saturday.
Although the future King and Queen are due to meet Indian politicians in Delhi and business leaders in Mumbai, a meeting with Tata Steel, the current owner of the UK steel industry, is not on the agenda. Neither are any of the firm’s executives due to attend the couple’s engagements.
Under David Cameron’s current Conservative government, Royal tours have reflected an emphasis on commercial diplomacy and the need to win jobs and orders for British firms. The couple, who are in India at the request of the UK Government, are aware of the such a sensitive situation, with uncertainty over 15,000 British steelworkers jobs.
On a lighter note, the Indian tour was heralded by a reception at Kensington Palace for young Indian, Bhutan and British guests, hosted by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Appropriately, Kate wore a £500 full-length Blue Mary illusion dot gown designed by the Indian courturier Saloni Lodha, as shown above.
Meantime, UK Business Secretary Sajid Javid said the process of selling Tata Steel’s plants will begin next week after two hours of talks with the company’s bosses in Mumbai. Mr Javid said Tata will allow a “reasonable amount of time” for the process to be completed.
Sanjeev Gupta, who is boss of the commodities company Liberty Group, held exploratory talks with Mr Javid on Tuesday about possible purchase of the Tata’s UK steelworks, including the huge plant in Port Talbot, South Wales.