At the Britannia & Company restaurant in Mumbai, Boman Kohinoor adoringly holds up a cherished possession — a photograph of Britain’s Prince William with wife Kate and son George.
In his other hand, the 93-year-old owner of Mumbai’s most famous Parsi cafe proudly displays a cut-out picture of a smiling Queen Elizabeth while around him customers hastily tuck into lunch.
Kohinoor, who has a strong claim to be India’s biggest fan of the British royal family, is desperate to meet William and Kate when they arrive in Mumbai on Sunday.
“I will be going to Oval Maidan the day after tomorrow when they will be watching cricket,” the eccentric, yet sharp-minded and physically fit nonagenarian tells AFP.
“Hopefully I will see them there,” he adds, smiling.
Kohinoor has worked at Britannia, which sits tucked away in the western Indian city’s historic Ballard Estate, his whole life, his love of the British royals evident in its decor.
“My father opened this restaurant in 1923, the year I was born. I have been working here for 75 years,” Kohinoor says proudly.
“I am 93 years old. The restaurant is also 93 years old and we have sentimental value about the royal family,” Kohinoor adds, as if the affection was ever in doubt.
On the wall to his left hangs a large, framed photograph of Queen Elizabeth, next to a portrait of Indian independence hero Mahatma Gandhi.
Behind him, attached to a banister on the second floor of the restaurant is a giant cardboard cut-out of a grinning William and Kate, their arms linked.
Kohinoor has written regular letters to Queen Elizabeth over the years and even received a reply from one of her representatives at Windsor Castle, an official royal residence.
He would love nothing more than for William and Kate to visit his restaurant, one of the few remaining cafes run by Mumbai’s Parsi minority, during their 36-hour stay in India’s financial capital.
“I would be very happy and I would be honoured if they would visit me,” he says, promising to cook them a host of lip-smacking Parsi and Irani delicacies.
“I would treat them to the best of my signature dishes like berry pulao and sali boti mutton, lamb, and fish and all that,” Kohinoor beams.
His desire for the couple to eat at Britannia is gaining traction online after Conde Nast Traveller featured Kohinoor in a video in which he holds up a sign which reads #WillKatMeetMe.
The hashtag was proving popular on social media. “Will #WillKat visit the Britannia restaurant of Bombay? Spread the word. Make it happen,” wrote user Nikhil Kumar.
The royal couple will spend seven days in India and Bhutan. They will play with slum children and mix with celebrities in Mumbai as well as visiting the Taj Mahal at Agra where Princess Diana was famously photographed.
The sprightly restaurant owner, who takes delight in showing customers his laminated photos of the royals and newspaper cuttings about himself, was particularly fond of the late princess.
“Prince William’s mother, Princess Diana she was our favourite and so much so that when my granddaughter was born I named my granddaughter Diana,” he explains.
Kohinoor is not so keen on William’s father, Prince Charles, however, and would rather the succession process skipped the 67-year-old out.
“I wish both Will and Kate the best of luck that after Queen Elizabeth they should ascend the throne. I’m not so much in favour of Prince Charles,” he says.
In Britannia, the Union Jack hangs alongside the Indian tricolour and the flag of Iran. Mumbai’s Parsi settlers were Zoroastrians from Iran.
Kohinoor says there was a practical reason for naming the cafe after Britain, rather than just his family’s admiration for India’s colonial masters.
“It was established by my father during British rule. If he named it after Britain he thought he would get easy permission to open the restaurant — and he was given quick permission.”