The royal couple flew with Air India – economy class, according to Swedish media reports – from Stockholm on Monday after the state-owned aircraft they would normally use was grounded due to technical problems.
“Very proud moment of Air India when we had a special guest onboard,” wrote the airline, in a tweet that immediately went viral and was picked up by a number of news sites throughout India.
“The King and Queen preferred to carry their own hand bags which led to surprised reactions from the Twitterati and won their hearts. What made this simple act by the royals even more surprising was their sheer act of humility and non-celebrity behaviour,” wrote India Today.
#FlyAI : Very Proud moment of Air India when we had a Special Guest onboard. His Majesty Carl Gustaf Folke Hubertus , King of Sweden and Her Majesty Silvia Renate Sommerlath travelled AI168 Stockholm to Delhi. Ms. Sangeeta Sanyal Country Manager Sweden greeted the Royal guests. pic.twitter.com/LXrLeEoDqd
— Air India (@airindiain) December 2, 2019
“I reached India, opened the newspaper and then this happened. And it really gave me the giggles. It's really quite the news here,” The Local's Member and Helsingborg resident Parul Ghosh explained.
“India is very, very big on VIP culture, and not just limited to the President or Prime Minister. Most newspapers are talking about how we could learn a thing or two from the humble King who carried his own bags.”
The King himself seemed unfazed about the commotion.
“It's just that I don't want to lose the bag! It's happened. Suddenly when you ask 'where's the bag?' it's in some car and gone. Someone offers 'oh, I'll take it' and then it just disappears. That's no fun,” he told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet on Wednesday.
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The state visit includes meetings with India's President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, round-table talks about business in the two countries and Sweden-India trade, and a series of discussions about climate, water and environmental issues.
The latter are issues close to the King's heart, and he praised Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg for sailing across the Atlantic to reach the climate summit in Madrid.
“That was a gutsy thing to do. Especially on the way back, and in such a small catamaran. I love to sail, but not necessarily in a catamaran,” he told Aftonbladet.
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He told the tabloid that he could imagine taking the train to his next state visit in Europe, depending on where it is. Asked about flygskam – 'flight shame' – a new Scandinavian buzzword that has made global headlines, and whether it was right to feel a sense of flight shame he said: “Yes, why not? It's not completely wrong.”
Sweden's Foreign Minister Ann Linde and Business Minister Ibrahim Baylan are also accompanying the Swedish royals on the state visit. They are joined by Business Sweden's delegation of representatives of around 50 Swedish companies and startups. The visit includes trips to New Delhi, Mumbai and Uttarakhand.