Boris Johnson mistaken for 'The King of England' and Boris Becker as he embarks on first trade trip

Mayor of London, who is set to meet with Indian business leaders and officials, said London should be the “number one choice” for investors

As Boris Johnson arrived in Delhi today to lead his first overseas trade mission he announced he hoped to slip into the type of “blissful anonymity” that usually evades him.

There was a brief moment when it looked as though the team at the British High Commission – masters in dealing with Indian bureaucracy – had succeeded.

Britain’s biggest celebrity politician was whisked through passport control with the minimum fuss to a chauffeur-driven car which sped off to his luxury hotel in the pre-dawn traffic.

But it was likely to be the final time on his six-day tour, also taking in Hyderabad and Mumbai, that he will avoid the frenzied crowds that he is used to dealing with at home.

The fact that his visit was covered by the Sunday Times of India, The Economic Times and the Hindustan Times – some of the country’s biggest papers – should have offered a clue of what was to come.

The Mayor is in India to help London businesses establish trade links, confront the problems of the UK visa system that is limiting Indian students coming to British universities and pick up tips on infrastructure development.

But while he has denied that the trip is a prime ministerial-style venture better suited to David Cameron, who is expected to visit India himself next year, he received a reception usually reserved for foreign heads of state.

At the Akshardham Hindu temple – his first visit of the day - dozens of pilgrims, tourists and schoolchildren crowded round as he was greeted by saffron-robed monks with a garland of rose petals and the traditional red kanku daubed on his forehead.

Although visitors were banned from taking cameras into the holy site, the curious crowd grew in size as he wandered around the intricately carved Rajasthan pink stone temple. He was even granted access to holy relics – a privilege usually just enjoyed by royalty.

But for all the attention, it seems not many knew who the Mayor of London actually was, with confused locals mistaking him for the King of England and the tennis legend Boris Becker.

Akash Bharadia, 18, who is spending his gap year volunteering at the temple, told reporters:  “One of the locals shouted out it was Boris Becker while some people asked whether he was the King of England. They know it’s Boris, that’s the main thing.”

Just one lone American tourist successfully identified him as “that guy on the zip line” – a reference to him getting stuck during the Olympics.

“He’s very jolly, isn’t he?” said Rajeev Tyagi, a photographer for the Mumbai newspaper Midday. “But really only the media and the upper classes know who he his.”

That didn’t stop a crowd of Indians gathering round to have their picture taken with him at the India Gate in central Delhi.

The business delegation travelling the Mayor – including the chairmen of Standard Life, Berkeley Homes and John Lewis – looked on bemused as Indian security guards shooed away children trying to sell him sweets and jewellery.

Mr Johnson took the frenzied attention – and the cases of mistaken identity - in his stride, looking deeply relieved he hadn’t slipped into anonymity after all. “I reckon I could give Boris Becker a run around on the tennis court if I was asked to,” he quipped, before reminding the assembled crowd he was there to champion London.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Sport
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
i100
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
News
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam