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Royal baby footman returns to India after visa expires

London, PTI | Updated : 30 July 2013, 09:48 PM

A week after his image flashed around the world as the royal footman who officially announced the birth of Prince George of Cambridge, Badar Azim has left Britain after the expiry of his temporary visa.

The 25-year-old, raised in a Kolkata slum, played a starring role in the royal birth when he helped the Queen's press secretary, Ailsa Anderson, post the official bulletin on an ornate easel in the palace forecourt on Monday last week, announcing the Duchess of Cambridge had given birth to a 8lbs 6oz boy.

The hospitality management graduate, who landed the job after finishing his studies at Napier University in Edinburgh, was forced to leave the palace at the end of last week. He had been granted a post-study work visa which expired at the end of July, though he was reportedly eager to stay in the UK. He has now left Britain, and is believed to have returned to Kolkata where his family live.

Buckingham Palace said it did not comment on the Queen's staff, and the Home Office said it did not comment on individual cases.

Azim's journey from a modest two-roomed abode to the palace gates has gained wide circulation in India. He was born in a slum apartment in the backstreets of Kolkata, the son of Mohammed Rahim, 52, a welder, and Mumtaz Begum, 41, and raised in the cramped dwelling which is still shared by nine members of his extended family, including his two brothers.

In an interview at the weekend his brother, Mazhar, 20, told a newspaper on Sunday they were an "economically challenged" family, but his father had borrowed money to give his children a good education.

After struggling at public school, Azim was taken in by the charitable St Mary's orphanage and day school, run by the Irish Congregation of Christian Brothers, which helps the underprivileged.

The orphanage later sponsored him to go to the International Institute of Hotel Management College (IIHM) in Kolkata in 2008. After two years there the orphanage raised the money for him to complete his degree at Napier.

He graduated in June 2011, and joined Buckingham Palace after applying for a job as junior footman the following year. At the time he said: "If I hadn't gone to St Mary's I would be working somewhere on the streets of Kolkata. It would have been very difficult to get a job in India because unless you have a good degree you will not get a good job and a good salary."

Sanjukta Bose, director of the IIHM, told a newspaper that he was a "a nice, reserved polite and quiet student".

She said: "It was a moment not of surprise but of pride when I read about the footman of Buckingham Palace who was involved in the formal proclamation of the royal baby. I knew instantly it was our Badar Azim that everyone was talking about".

A post-study working visa used to allow those who came to Britain to study to remain for a maximum of two years to work in the UK, but the scheme was closed down in April last year and students could no longer apply from April 2012.

First Published: Tuesday, July 30, 2013 09:43 PM

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