LONDON: Ms.Ruchi Ghanshyam, who took as only the second woman high commissioner of India since independence in 1947 in November, presented credentials to Queen Elizabeth at the Buckingham Palace on Wednesday in a ceremony marked by royal regalia.
Ghanshyam, an IFS officer of the 1982 batch, is India’s 27th high commissioner and the second woman after Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit to hold the post. Pandit was the third envoy after V K Krishna Menon and B G Kher, and was in India House from 1954 to 1961.
According to protocol, soon after arriving in London, a foreign ambassador or high commissioner has an audience with the queen in a formal ceremony in which letters of credence are presented.
Ghanshyam and her husband, A R Ghanshyam (a retired IFS officer), were collected from the high commissioner’s residence in Kensington Palace Gardens by a state landau from the Royal Mews, escorted by Neil Holland, the director of protocol.
After the audience with the queen, she returned to her residence by the horse-drawn carriage, and joined diplomats, officials and members of the Indian diaspora at a ‘vin d’honneur’, a social celebration after the official ceremony.
She said, “We had a very good exchange about India-UK relations. Her Majesty received me very warmly. What will really stay with me is the memory of how easy she makes it for everybody around her”.
The number of times the royal ceremony to welcome a new envoy in London is held has grown over the years. In 1886, there were only six envoys, with 37 other countries represented by ministers. Today, there are over 170 foreign missions based in London.