Britain’s Foreign Office has denied claims that British diplomats in India demanded that scaffolding be removed from the Taj Mahal for a photo call when Prince William and his wife the Duchess of Cambridge visit India later this month.
According to the Times of India, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) received the request from the British High Commission who wanted to ensure the “perfect” photo opportunity.
Prince William’s mother Diana posed in front of the Taj Mahal during a visit there in 1992 in one of the most enduring images of the late Princess in existence.
According to the Times, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s advance team wanted to ensure that a similarly evocative image is recreated.
Three of the four minarets that surround the iconic Taj Mahal are currently surrounded by scaffolding owing to on-going restoration work.
The Times reports that the ASI had refused the High Commission’s request as it would undo “months of hard work”.
Officials are also said to be considering a request to vacate the Taj Mahal site of tourists – a protocol accorded only to visiting heads of state – for the photo opportunity, according to the Times.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s visit will be the first to the Taj Mahal following Princess Diana’s visit nearly a quarter century ago.
A senior ASI official, who did not wish to be named, told TOI that the advanced team had visited the monument several times during the last two months, and in one of the meetings with senior district officials the issue of removal of scaffolding was raised.
However, given the complex procedure, it was turned down.
On Friday, the Foreign Office denied the report.
“We can confirm that this story is not correct. We did not request that the Taj Mahal remove the scaffolding”, a spokesperson said.
The Royal Couple are scheduled to arrive in Agra on 16 April.