UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been expected to be the chief guest at Republic Day celebrations. If Johnson accepts PM Modi’s invitation, he will be the first UK Prime Minister to be the guest of honour at the event after John Major in 1993. However, there is no official confirmation from British High Commission yet and a decision is awaited but a few reports suggested that Johnson was keen to visit India.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited Johnson during a telephonic conversation on November 27, while the UK PM invited PM Modi to the G-7 summit in the UK next year.
Reports suggested that the telephonic conversation focused on the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change and other related issues. Invitation reports came on the same day the UK approved the Covid-19 vaccine developed by US drugmaker Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech.
New Delhi has not said anything about the decision but diplomats say that it is a well-thought-out strategy by PM Modi to invite his UK counterpart as a hard Brexit looms on the horizon.
In the past, members of the British royalty have been chief guests — Prince Philip in 1959 and Queen Elizabeth II in 1961. British chancellor of exchequer Rap Butler in 1956 and Chief of Defence Staff Lord Louis Mountbatten in 1964.
In the 2020 Republic Day event, India had invited Brazil Prime Minister Jair Bolsonaro to be the chief guest at the Republic Day parade.