Kate middleton uk-india year of culture launch royal family

Prince William and Kate join the Queen at dazzling palace launch

by Ainhoa Barcelona and Hanna Fillingham

Members of the royal family stepped out in full force to show their support for the Queen on Monday evening, as Her Majesty hosted a reception to mark the launch of the UK-India Year of Culture 2017. Prince William and Kate were also in attendance, along with Prince Philip, Prince Edward and Princess Eugenie, who donned their finest for the lavish affair held at Buckingham Palace.

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Kate looked as sophisticated as ever in a gold pleated Erdem dress

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The Queen wore a purple Stewart Parvin dress as she greeted guests

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Kate, who had left her children Prince George and Princess Charlotte at home, turned heads in a stunning gold Erdem dress, while William was her perfect match in a dapper suit. The Queen, 90, looked elegant in a purple Stewart Parvin gown.

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Guests were welcomed by a colourful projection of a peacock, India's national bird, which was visible from all approaches to the palace. Notable attendees from the fields of performing arts, fashion, food, literature and sport included Rio Ferdinand, Joe Wright, The Big Bang Theory star Kunal Nayyar and his wife Neha Kapur, actress Ayesha Dharker and cricketer Kapil Dev.

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Guests tucked into a special Indian-themed menu of canapés prepared by royal chefs working alongside chefs from Veeraswamy, the UK's oldest Indian Restaurant. Among the dishes were salmon kedgeree croquettes, tandoori prawn cocktails, paneer squares in herb crust and boondi chocolate rock.

A special display was also set up, showcasing items from previous royal visits to India and Indian gifts and manuscripts from the royal library. Among the coveted items was a shawl that was woven by Ghandi on his loom as a wedding present for Princess Elizabeth in 1947. The shawl has the words Jai Hind - Hail India - in the centre and was accompanied by a hand-written note from Ghandi, addressed to Lord Mountbatten, then Viceroy of India, which said: "The little thing is made out of doubled yarn of my own spinning... please give the bride and the bridegroom this with my blessing with the wish that they would have a long and happy life of service of man... Yours sincerely, MK." The welcoming garland that was presented to Her Majesty when she visited India in 1961 was also on display.

Earlier in the day, the Band of the Grenadier Guards played a selection of Indian themed music during the Changing of the Guard Ceremony, including soundtracks from the movie Slumdog Millionaire.

The UK-India Year of Culture 2017 programme aims to celebrate the deep cultural ties between the two countries and the 70th anniversary of India's independence through a year-long programme of events and exhibitions.

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