Why Swedish Royals had to take AI commercial flight

Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf on Monday held extensive talks with President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to expand overall bilateral cooperation in diverse areas including in trade and investment, innovation and and culture.

IMAGE: President Ram Nath Kovind and King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden during a meeting at Rashtrapati Bhavan, in New Delhi, on Monday. Photograph: Manvender Vashist/PTI Photo

After talks between the King and President Kovind, the two sides inked three pacts providing for cooperation in polar science, innovation and research and in maritime spheres.

Separately, Modi and King chaired a meeting of the India-Sweden High-Level Policy Dialogue on Innovation Policy during which both sides discussed ways to expand engagement in research and development.

 

IMAGE: King Carl XVI Gustaf and President Kovind during an agreement signing ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan. Photograph: Manvender Vashist/PTI Photo

Earlier, national carrier Air India chipped in to ferry the Swedish King and Queen to India when their aircraft developed a technical snag at the last minute, a rare instance of a royal couple using a commercial aircraft for a state visit to the country.

The Swedish king and queen, who are on their second five-day visit to India after 26 years, were scheduled to arrive here on their state aircraft. However, they arrived in a direct commercial flight of Air India from Stockholm to New Delhi Monday morning.

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi in conversation with the Swedish King at Hyderabad House ahead of their meeting, in New Delhi, on Monday. Photograph: Subhav Shukla/PTI Photo

“The reason for the change was that there was a technical problem with the state aircraft,” a Swedish official told PTI.

On arrival, they were greeted by country manager of Air India Sangeeta Sanyal.

‘Very Proud moment of Air India when we had a Special Guest onboard. His Majesty Carl Gustaf Folke Hubertus , King of Sweden and Her Majesty Silvia Renate Sommerlath travelled AI168 Stockholm to Delhi. Sangeeta Sanyal Country Manager Sweden greeted the Royal guests,‘ Air India tweeted.

IMAGE: King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia with President Kovind and First Lady Savita Kovind stand for the national anthem before an agreement signing ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Photograph: Manvender Vashist/PTI Photo

The images of the Royal couple carrying their bags after disembarking the aircraft immediately went viral with Twitterati drawing parallels with VIP culture in India.

‘Kings & queens in civilised constitutional monarchies have less royal paraphernalia than elected PMs in many democratic republics,‘ James Mathew who goes by Twitter handle commented.

IMAGE: The Swedish Royals visit the Red Fort. Photograph: Manvender Vashist/PTI Photo

‘If anything the so-called people in power should learn from them, both are old but unlike ruling class they don‘t have ego. Here even a young lad would ask a govt. servant to tie their shoes let alone carry the luggage,‘ another Twitter said.

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The couple were received at the airport by Minister of State for Environment, Forests and Climate Change Babul Supriyo with Kathakali dancers and traditional drummers to welcome the dignitaries.

IMAGE: King Gustaf meets Union ministers S Jaishankar, Smriti Irani and Harsh Vardhan at Rashtrapati Bhavan. Photograph: Manvender Vashist/PTI Photo

The couple will be visiting Mumbai and Uttarakhand during their five-day trip.

‘Delighted to meet Their Majesties King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia. We had extensive discussions on boosting cooperation between India and Sweden. Closer economic and cultural ties between our nations will greatly benefit our citizens,‘ Modi said in a tweet.

External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said the two leaders emphasised the role of collaborative technological innovation between the two countries and future challenges.

IMAGE: The Royals with the President and First Lady. Photograph: Manvender Vashist/PTI Photo

He said focus of the talks was to chalk out a blueprint for linking innovation with aspirations.

Officials said the talks were aimed at boosting overall bilateral cooperation in diverse areas including in trade and investment, innovation and and culture.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar also called on the King and Queen after their arrival and held discussions on ways to deepen bilateral ties.

IMAGE: The Royal couple pays tribute to Mahatma Gandhi during a visit to the Gandhi Smriti in New Delhi. Culture Minister Prahlad Singh Patel is also seen. Photograph: Atul Yadav/PTI Photo

Jaishankar also held a separate meeting with his Swedish counterpart Ann Linde during which both sides resolved to step up cooperation to combat challenge of terrorism.

‘Wide-ranging conversation with Swedish FM Ann Linde. Discussed expanding bilateral cooperation in environment, manufacturing, health and Smart Cities. Urged greater mobility of Indian talent,‘ Jaishankar tweeted after the talks.

IMAGE: The Royal couple at Gandhi Smriti. Photograph: Atul Yadav/PTI Photo

Jaishankar said he also discussed with Linde the challenge of terrorism, especially cross-border terrorism.

‘Emphasised that right to life is the most basic human right. Agreed to work together in international forums to address this key challenge of terrorism,‘ he said

The King and Queen also visited Jama Masjid, Red Fort and Gandhi Smriti. It is King Gustaf‘s third visit to India.

IMAGE: King Gustaf signs the visitors book as PM Modi and Queen Silvia look on, at Hyderabad House. Photograph: Press Information Bureau of India

The ties between India and Sweden have been on an upward trajectory in the last few years. The bilateral trade volume was $3.37 billion in 2018.

The Swedish royal couple was accorded a ceremonial reception at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in the morning.

Apart from Delhi, the royal couple is scheduled to visit Mumbai and Uttarakhand.

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