New Delhi: National carrier Air India chipped in to ferry Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia 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.
“The reason for the change was that there was a technical problem with the state aircraft,” a Swedish official said.
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 on-board. 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.
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 @chackowacko commented.
“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 @ayushapoorva said.
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.
The couple will be visiting Mumbai and Uttarakhand during their five-day trip.
“Several documents on furthering bilateral engagement are likely to be signed,” officials said.
The ties between India and Sweden have been on an upward trajectory in the last few years. The bilateral trade volume was USD 3.37 billion in 2018.
“Bilateral relations between India and Sweden are friendly and based on principles of democracy and transparency, right to freedom, and rule of law. Regular interactions in political, business, scientific and academic spheres have provided dynamism to our bilateral ties,” the MEA had said.