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William pays tribute to Queen at early birthday party in New Delhi

Published 11/04/2016

William and Kate are continuing their tour of India
William and Kate are continuing their tour of India

The Duke of Cambridge has paid tribute to the Queen describing her as a "wonderful great-grandmother" for his children and very much his "boss".

Speaking at a early birthday party for the Queen, who turns 90 next week, William described her as a "guiding force" for her family.

The Duke's words honouring the monarch were spoken at the special event staged in New Delhi as the second day of his and Kate's tour of India and Bhutan came to an end.

Earlier the couple visited the site where India's founding father Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated, to honour his memory.

In a poignant ceremony they scattered rose petals where the man who led India to independence was shot and killed in 1948.

And they also commemorated India's First World War dead by laying a wreath at India Gate, the nation's war memorial, despite strong gusts that threatened to lift up the Duchess' dress.

At the birthday party William, watched by wife Kate who wore a monochrome outfit by Alice Temperley, and dozens of guests, said: "I am incredibly lucky to have my grandmother in my life. As she turns 90, she is a remarkably energetic and dedicated guiding force for her family.

"And I am so glad that my children are having the chance to get to know the Queen. George and Charlotte, too, will discover how lucky they are to have such a wonderful great-grandmother - a role model for the rest of their lives.

"Now, it is important that everyone here tonight understands that I am here as the Queen's representative. She may be my grandmother, but she is also very much the boss."

The Duke told the guests, gathered at the British High Commission, that the Queen was very fond of India and had visited three times during her 64-year reign.

He added: "And India of course is the biggest country in the Commonwealth, the family of nations to which she has committed so much of her life's work. India's contribution to the Commonwealth is something that is enormously important to her."

The Duke read out a message from his grandmother in which the Queen said she was delighted the Cambridges had been able to join the guests.

She added: "I have fond memories of our previous visits to India. This event today is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the enduring friendship between our two countries, our shared culture and the business opportunities we can create together.

"It is with great pleasure that I entrust another generation of my family to strengthen and renew our bonds."

At the end William joked: "Now I can report back to Granny that I have done my duty."

Two days into the royal tour, which has already taken William and Kate to Mumbai, the couple are "having an absolutely great time", said a royal source, adding: "They've loved their time here."

William's personal tribute to his grandmother the Queen - who turns 90 on April 21 - came after he and Kate used a sword to cut a birthday cake decorated in the pattern of a union flag made with strawberries and grapes.

The afternoon saw a garden party with a difference. Buckingham Palace events hosted by the Queen usually serve mini sandwiches, slices of cake and tea, but this lawn was ringed with stalls offering gin, whisky and Australian wines.

Guests were served Indian-themed canapes and, for British tastes, apple Stilton Welsh rarebits, mini beer-battered fish and chips and thin-crust cheese and tomato pizza.

British High Commissioner Sir Dominic Asquith, who hosted the event at his official residence, told the guests: " I have not known a day of my life when she was not the Queen and without embarrassing anybody here, I'm sure there's nobody in the audience who has lived a day of their life without her being the Queen. So we wish her great happiness."

He added: "Over the next four years as High Commissioner I am determined that the partnership between our two countries should be ambitious, resilient and coherent. This partnership is, and must continue to be, of benefit to both countries, contributing to the prosperity, to the security, to the cultural and intellectual richness of both of us."

The couple mingled with guests and Kate was asked by one, Professor Bulbul Dhar-James, the secret to looking so trim.

The academic, who teaches political science at Jamia Millia Islamia university, said: "We said, 'how do you lose all the weight after having two kids?'. And she said, 'I am running after my kids'."

The mood was more reflective earlier in the day when the Cambridges were given a private tour of the museum Gandhi Smriti - ''Gandhi memory'' - the former house where the statesman was killed in 1948.

Gandhi was shot three times at what was then called Birla House by Nathuram Godse, an extremist who rejected his lifelong call for peace.

Before leaving the royal couple signed the visitors' book, inscribing it: "To India's visionary leader."

William and Kate had begun the day in Mumbai where the Duke showed off his culinary skills making a tasty Indian treat - thanks to an innovative labour-saving device.

William not only cooked a dosa - a savoury Asian snack similar to a crepe - using the automatic machine but was pleased with the results, describing his effort as delicious.

But he could not persuade wife Kate to have a nibble of the treat made by the DosaMatic machine - one of a number of exhibits at an event showcasing the city's young entrepreneurs.

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