Forced to cancel his visit to India due to the COVID-19 pandemic, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday extended his wishes to the people of India in a special Republic Day message.
Hailing the cooperation between the two countries, Johnson said the UK and India are working side by side to help humanity come out of the pandemic.
The British Prime Minister was invited to New Delhi as the chief guest at the annual parade to mark India’s 72nd Republic Day but was forced to cancel the visit owing to the COVID-19 situation in his home country after the detection of a new variant of the virus.
This will be the first R-Day parade without a chief guest in more than five decades. The last time India did not have a chief guest was in 1966.
In a video message, Johnson hailed the celebration of the birth of an “extraordinary Constitution” that established India “as the biggest sovereign democracy in the world.”
The UK PM reiterated his plan to visit India in the coming months.
“I was hugely looking forward to joining you for this important occasion at the kind invitation of my friend Prime Minister Modi; alas our common struggle against COVID has kept me in London,” Johnson said.
In reference to the vaccine collaboration, Johnson said, “As I speak, our two countries are working side by side to develop, produce, and distribute vaccines that will help to free humanity from the pandemic. And thanks to the combined efforts of Britain, India, and many other nations, we are on the road to success against COVID.
"So, I look forward to visiting India later this year, strengthening our friendship, and striving for the quantum leap in our relationship that Prime Minister Modi and I have both pledged to achieve."
Johnson further said, “All over the world, this virus is compelling people to stay apart, including family and friends in Britain and India, who form what Prime Minister Modi has called the 'living bridge' between us. But for now, let me wish everyone in India as well as those celebrating here in Britain, a very happy Republic Day.”