Trump to Diana: The most iconic Taj Mahal photos

Kusum Tewari

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump pose as they visit the Taj Mahal in Agra on February 24, 2020Image copyright
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US President Donald Trump has made what is arguably the “most important” pit stop of his state visit to India – the iconic Taj Mahal.

Mr Trump signed the official visitors book at the monument, writing that the “Taj Mahal inspires awe, a timeless testament to the rich and diverse beauty of Indian culture.”

The US president and First Lady Melania Trump also received a guided tour of the 17th Century monument, built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died in childbirth.

Regardless of agenda, the “monument of love” has always been an absolute photo-op for every high-profile visitor. Here are some of the most memorable ones:

The lonely royal

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Princess Diana visited the ‘monument of love’ alone

This photo – of Princess Diana sitting alone on a marble bench with the Taj towering in the background – is one of the most famous involving the 17th Century marble mausoleum.

She visited the monument in the city of Agra in February 1992.

She was alone as Prince Charles was on diplomatic work elsewhere in Agra. As she left, she reportedly told journalists waiting there that it was a healing and fascinating experience.

The photo is often seen as a metaphor for the “loneliness” she was reportedly feeling in her marriage at the time.

Tourists to the World Heritage Site are still told by their guides about the “Diana bench”.

‘New memories’

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Prince William and his wife Kate’s trip to India carried poignant echoes for the royal family

Almost a quarter of a century later, in 2016, her son, the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, posed for a photograph on the same bench with his wife, Kate Middleton.

Royal officials said the duke and duchess hoped to forge new memories.

At the time, the Cambridge’s communications secretary Jason Knauf said: “The Duke of Cambridge is of course aware of the huge esteem his mother, the late Princess of Wales, is held in in India and he appreciates the status of the images that exist of the Princess at the Taj.

“He feels incredibly lucky to visit a place where his mother’s memory is kept alive by so many who travel there.”

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Media captionDiana, Princess of Wales, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge pose on a bench at the Taj Mahal

Zuckerberg ‘checks in’ to the Taj

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg visited the Taj Mahal in October 2015

In 2015, Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, started off his high-profile trip to India with a visit to the Taj Mahal, a monument he had “always wanted to see”, he wrote in a Facebook post from Agra.

“It is even more stunning than I expected. It’s incredible what people can build – and what love can motivate us to build,” he wrote.

He looked appropriately in awe as he gazed at the monument – he was one of 4.6 million visitors to it that year.

His next stop was Delhi where he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and spoke to college students at a top university – he told them that India would be crucial to getting “the next billion online”.

Love in the time of failed talks

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Gen Musharraf and his wife, Sebha, visited in July 2001

Former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and his wife, Sebha, visited the Taj in 2001, when Gen Musharraf was in Agra for a historic bilateral summit.

The disputed region of Kashmir – which India and Pakistan have fought over since independence from Britain in 1947 – was one of the subjects of discussion. Both countries claim the region in its entirety, but only control parts of it.

“The Taj Mahal will be an inspiring symbol in the background,” Pakistan’s high commissioner said before the talks.

Although the summit got off to a positive start, it was not successful. It’s still considered to be one of “the greatest missed opportunities” in bringing peace between India and Pakistan.

But Gen Musharraf found the time to visit Agra’s most famous landmark.


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(L-R) Glenn McGrath, Justin Langer, Matthew Hayden, Colin Miller and Michael Slater at the Taj Mahal

The second test match of the 2001 Australia-India series went down in history as one of the greatest fightbacks in the history of cricket.

Australia had seemed destined to take the match after the first innings. But India came back from the brink to defeat Australia by 171 runs, ending their record 16 match-winning streak.

But that disappointment didn’t stop the touring team from visiting the Taj Mahal.

Nothing like a monument of love to take your mind off a loss on the field.

‘A day in the life’

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George Harrison, lead guitarist for The Beatles, visited the Taj Mahal in 1966 when he was 23 years old

George Harrison, the guitarist for the Beatles, visited the Taj in 1966 when he was 23.

He took this photograph of himself at the monument, long before selfies were a thing.

According to local reports, Harrison also visited the cities of Mumbai (then called Bombay) and Delhi, where he bought himself a traditional Indian sitar.

A tender moment for Russia’s strongman

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Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the Taj Mahal with his wife, Lyudmila

In October 2000, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the Taj Mahal with his wife, Lyudmila.

The two, however, separated in 2013 after 30 years of marriage.

Mr Putin’s visit, where he signed a declaration of a “strategic partnership” with India, was hailed as a “historic step” in the relationship between the two countries.

The Eisenhower moment

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President Eisenhower visits the Taj Mahal accompanied by Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru

Former US President Dwight Eisenhower visited the Taj in December 1959 – he was the first US head of state to visit India, and arrived in the country to a hero’s welcome.

He rode to the monument in an open Cadillac, cheered by crowds in the streets.

Eisenhower’s visit to the monument of love was all the more poignant as then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru declared that he had stolen a “small piece of India’s heart”.

In stark contrast, Agra was under complete lockdown when Donald Trump visited, ferried around in his armour-laden car nicknamed the Beast.

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