The Prince and Princess of Wales visited an Indian street food restaurant during a visit to Birmingham on Thursday, with the prince taking an unsuspecting customer’s booking on the telephone.
The unexpected phone call was answered by Prince William and he took a booking for two while he and his wife Kate were served a range of Indian dishes at the Indian Streatery in Bennetts Hill, Birmingham.
“He knows where you are now,” the prince said after negotiating over the time of the booking and giving the customer directions.
“I probably sent him somewhere else in Birmingham so I apologise.”
At 2.15pm, customers Vinay Aggarwal and Ankita Gulati, a husband and wife visiting from London, arrived at the restaurant ahead of their train home at 3pm.
Mr Aggarwal, a software engineer, said he had “no idea” that Prince William had taken the call.
“It’s pretty amazing and a surprise. I didn’t know at that moment, but it’s a very nice surprise,” he said.
“Obviously [I will be telling everyone]. It's not something that happens often.
“I didn’t recognise his voice at all, this is the first time I was listening to him on the phone, so I genuinely thought someone was taking the booking for me.”
Asked about the unexpected phone call, restaurant owner Meena Sharma said: “All of us around him were really surprised he actually picked up the phone and actually said ‘this is the Indian Streatery’, and there was a genuine person on the other end wanting to make a booking.
“But I think he probably could have a role as a front of house manager. We could probably employ him to take phone calls in future as he did a really good job.”
Prince William and Kate visit Birmingham - in pictures
During the visit, which comes as part of a wider tour of the country before King Charles III's coronation, Prince William and Kate said they “love curries” and “secretly try lots of curry houses around the country”.
In the first of two stops in Birmingham, the Princess of Wales said food is “so nostalgic” and that she “loves spice”.
Meanwhile, Prince William said he preferred milder food.
“I’m a masala man,” he said.
When asked whether their children enjoyed Indian food, Kate replied: “Absolutely, they love it.”
After being introduced to Ms Sharma and her husband, Rakesh, Prince William and Kate met front-of-house staff before heading into the kitchen to prepare rotis, a traditional flatbread.
They took part in a cooking competition, which was judged by the restaurant’s head chef Ms Sharma.
Prince William, wearing a brown blazer, blue chinos and brown suede Chelsea boots, admitted he would not eat the curry he prepared, and said: “We will let that one just be in the corner somewhere.”
He also asked staff for their top tips on preparing rice as it was always “soggy” when he made it, with Ms Sharma, who opened the restaurant in 2017 and runs an all-female kitchen, telling staff not to give away the restaurant's recipes.
The couple were served portions of traditional Indian street food including pani puri, black dahl, methi chicken and balpuri chaat.
The menu at the restaurant includes a cocktail named after each family member behind the restaurant, but Prince William said he could not think of what he would call a cocktail inspired by his wife when asked by Dhiraj Sharma, the 27-year-old general manager.
He admitted he preferred vodka and enjoyed a Kamikaze cocktail as they were “silent but deadly”.
Kate said she loves cooking Lebanese food and added: “I quite like tequila.”
The royals left the restaurant to greet dozens of well-wishers ahead of a second engagement in the city later on Thursday.
Speaking after the royal couple departed, Mr Sharma, said: “It was very surreal and not something you ever think about.
“You never think royalty will come to your humble abode but it’s been an absolute pleasure to have them here.”
Confirming Kate as the winner of the roti cooking competition, Ms Sharma, who came to the UK in 1966 from India, said: “I think clearly there was only one winner, and I think the person who knew they weren’t the winner admitted that as well.”