King Albert II and Queen Paola of Belgium are on a ten day tour of India. The visit kicked off on Sunday, November 2nd, and will last until the 12th.
This visit is expected to boost economic and academic relations with the two countries. Top CEOs and university leaders from Belgium are accompanying the royal couple.
Upon arriving in India, Queen Paola went to see the Taj Mahal by herself. When asked by photographers to sit on the bench, where many world leaders have sat for photos, the Queen refused. It is unknown why Paola did not want to sit there, but it may be because she didn’t want to cut out a solitary figure in any photographs.
On Tuesday, the King and Queen met with Indian President Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi. The King had a chance to discuss bilateral and global issues with Singh, as well as the global financial crisis.
Later, the King of the Belgians addressed India’s top business leaders and entrepreneurs and made a pitch for attracting Indian investment in his country.
“A change is needed in the global financial system, with the International Monetary Fund reinventing itself in light of the current financial turmoil that is rocking the world markets,” said Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath in his address to a seminar on ‘India and Belgium – Partners in a Globalised World’.
Patil and Singh escorted the royal couple to a memorial site for Mahatma Gandhi. There, King Albert sprinkled flower petals on the site.
Wednesday saw Albert and Paola visit sacred sites in New Delhi. They went to a gurudwara (Sikh Temple) and the Laxmi Narayan Hindu temple. Later, Queen Paola paid a visit to a cancer center.
The King and Queen are expected to travel throughout India, and go to such cities as Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad. They will continue to promote relations between Belgium and India, a rising economic power in the world.
This is the second royal visit India has seen in less than a month. Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden was here, though her visit did not receive much media coverage and was not officially about strengthening diplomatic ties between Sweden and India.