The Big Bang Theory star Kunal Nayyar has been left “overwhelmed” by a glittering Buckingham Palace reception celebrating Anglo-Indian culture.
The Queen hosted the evening which saw leading names from the arts, sport, fashion and showbusiness invited to her landmark London home in recognition of the 70th anniversary of Indian independence and to launch the UK-India Year of Culture 2017.
Guests included former India cricket captain Kapil Dev, musician Anoushka Shankar – daughter of legendary sitar player Ravi Shankar – and her husband film director Joe Wright, and former EastEnders actress Nina Wadia.
The royal family have a close association with India going back hundreds of years and the Queen was joined by the Duke of Edinburgh, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Princess Eugenie who all mingled with the guests.
Kate wore a sparkling outfit by Erdem and paid homage to the Asian guests by wearing a pair of earrings by Indian designer Anita Dongre, while the Queen was dressed in a purple Stewart Parvin dress and jacket.
Kunal, who plays Raj in the popular American sitcom, was joined by wife Neha Kapur. He said: “What a dream, we were driving through the gates, I’ve never been here and it’s really a dream come true for us.
“I don’t know what to think, I’m a little overwhelmed.”
Speaking about the event, which celebrated Asian and British talent, he replied: “Well you know I was born in Hounslow so I’m a British kid, grew up my whole life in New Delhi in India then moved to America and ended up on this TV show and my dreams came true, so it’s really come full circle to be invited by the Queen to be part of UK-India culture here.”
The Anglo-Indian theme of the night was reflected in the canapes on offer, with guests having the choice of spice-rich delicacies or traditional western-style morsels.
Mark Flanagan, head chef at Buckingham Palace’s kitchens, and Uday Salunkhe, executive chef at Veeraswamy, said to be the UK’s oldest Indian restaurant, led their respective teams as they spent six weeks devising the menu.
Raj puri – fried unleavened bread with yoghurt herbs – and boondi chocolate rock, fried chickpea flour kernels covered in chocolate, were some of the bite-sized dishes served alongside salmon blinis and rhubarb and creme brulee tartlets.