The Belgian Crown Princely couple are on a week-long economic mission to India, where about 28 business agreements between the two countries are expected to take place. Crown Prince Philippe and Crown Princess Mathilde arrived in New Delhi on Sunday, and Monday was their first day of operation.
First, the couple went to Rajghat, which is the memorial to Indian independence leader Mahatama Gandhi. They paid their respects by laying a floral wreath and posing with a bust of Gandhi.
Afterward, Philippe met with India’s President Pratibha Patil and the two discussed the visit, plus other ways for India and Belgium to strengthen ties.
During the couple’s week-long visit, they will go to the cities of Pune, Mumbai and possibly Bangalore. They have been to India before for their honeymoon just over 10 years ago.
Before leaving for the country, the Crown Prince gave an interview and was asked about his impression of India.
“India is a fabulous country which has managed unity in diversity and combines its very ancient wisdom with a forward looking spirit of entrepreneurship,” Philippe said.
“I spent much time reading books on Indian history, philosophy and literature, the famous author Rabindranath Tagore, Amartya Sen and others. I have also frequent contacts with Indian friends who keep me informed on the fascinating evolution of the country. My wife, Princess Mathilde, shares this attraction for India. We spent our honeymoon in India and came back several times afterwards. Princess Mathilde will also take part in the mission with a very interesting and varied program.”
Accompanying the royal couple on this trip are 340 Belgian business leaders and Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Steven Vanackere. The sectors included in this economic mission are the automobile, aeronautics, transport infrastructure, clean technology, diamonds, renewable energy, bio-pharma, and audiovisual fields.
Belgium is India’s biggest supporter in the European Union. As of late, the country has been pushing for India to become a permanent U.N. Security Council.