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Duke and Duchess of Cambridge honour India's war dead

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at a ceremony in India Image copyright Getty Images

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have honoured India's war dead, as their first official visit to the country moves to New Delhi.

They began the day at an event for young entrepreneurs in Mumbai, then laid a wreath in New Delhi at the India Gate memorial to 70,000 Indian soldiers who died in World War One.

The royal couple then paid tribute to independence leader Mahatma Gandhi.

They also attended a party at the British High Commissioner's residence.

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In pictures: Day one of the royal tour

The party celebrated the birthday of the Queen, who turns 90 on 21 April.

Prince William described himself as the "Queen's representative" and said his grandmother was "still very much the boss", as he read out a message from her and Prince Philip.

"I have fond memories of our previous visits to India and this event is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the enduring friendship between our two countries, our shared culture and the business opportunities we can create together," the message said.

"It is with great pleasure that I entrust another generation of my family to strengthen and renew our bonds."

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Image caption The Queen in India in 1997 - the visit marked the 50th anniversary of the country's independence from Britain
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The duke told the guests that the Queen had visited India three times during her 64-year reign
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Media captionPrince William pays tribute to the Queen and says she is "very much the boss"

Having delivered the message, he said he could "report back to granny that I have done my duty".

The duke also paid tribute to his grandmother, describing her as "remarkably energetic" and a "dedicated guiding force for her family".

"I am so glad that children have the chance to get to know the Queen," he added.

"George and Charlotte too will discover how lucky they are to have such a wonderful great-grandmother, a role model for the rest of their lives."


Analysis

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Image caption The couple paid their respects to Mahatma Gandhi at a museum dedicated to the independence leader

By Peter Hunt, BBC royal correspondent

One Mumbai newspaper headline has declared "Royal couple charms crowds".

Images of a future king and queen demonstrating their sporting, competitive edge have proved irresistible to many British newspapers and broadcasters.

But such coverage doesn't mean that royal fever has descended on India.

Security concerns in the modern world mean that presidents and princes travel in a bubble, and only meet those who are invited and checked out in advance.

Read more of Peter's blog


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Media captionPrince William tested out a driving game as his wife looked on
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Image caption This picture, released on Monday, shows the duke and duchess meeting Boman Kohinoor, widely regarded as India's oldest and biggest royalist
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Image caption The royals pose for a picture at Indian Gate Memorial in New Delhi
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Image caption The duchess struggled to control her dress during the wreath laying at the memorial

Indian soldiers in World War One

  • India, then part of the British empire, made a huge contribution to Britain's war effort
  • About 1.5m Muslim, Sikh and Hindu soldiers went to war, and more than 70,000 lost their lives
  • Fought in major battles on the Western Front, and in even greater numbers in Mesopotamia (now Iraq)
  • Indian soldiers did not fight as a separate army, but alongside British units
  • Unrecognised for decades, their contributions are only now being fully acknowledged
  • India also supplied 170,000 animals, 3.7m tonnes of supplies, jute for sandbags, and a large loan (the equivalent of about £2bn today) to the British government

Sources: Indian Army, British Library

Why the Indian soldiers of WW1 were forgotten


At the Gandhi museum in Old Birla House, the duke and duchess paid their respects at the memorial marking the location where the statesman was assassinated in 1948.

On Tuesday the couple, who are visiting India for the first time, will meet the country's Prime Minister Narendra Modi before travelling to Kaziranga National Park in Assam to learn about the conservation work being done there.

On Sunday night, Prince William spoke of his admiration for India, during a speech at a charity gala in Mumbai attended by Bollywood film stars.

He praised "an India whose traditions, culture and civilisation go back thousands of years, and yet co-exist with an India that is young, creative, entrepreneurial".

Earlier, at the same venue - the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel - the couple spoke to survivors of the 2008 terror attacks in the city.

The seven-day tour will also see them travel to the remote Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan.

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