London: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with his British counterpart Theresa May at her Downing Street office earlier this week could have turned chaotic if a pregnant duck nesting in one of the windows had been accidentally disturbed, it has emerged.
On Wednesday, before the visiting Indian prime minister arrived at 10 Downing Street for his breakfast meeting with May, the British Prime Minister’s aides had an additional briefing for her keep away from the brooding duck dubbed as “Duckula” to avert a crisis of a non-political nature.
May was warned by her chief of staff, Gavin Barwell and another aide that the brown bird, highly protective of her unborn ducklings, might attack if anyone got too close to the nest, The Sunday Times reported.
Modi’s bilateral meeting with May at her office was his first stop during his four-day UK visit to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). The two leaders covered a wide range of topics of mutual interest during their interaction, without upsetting the nesting duck it would seem.
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The so-called “feathered fiend” had taken up residence in a window box outside the Cabinet Room of No 10 Downing Street while she sat on her eggs. “Ducks can be extremely aggressive when their eggs are about to hatch. They go a bit quackers,” an aide told the newspaper.
“It’s a hot day. If you’re lucky, Prime Minister, the duck will go to the pond,” the aide told May. She also hosted the leaders of Canada, Australia and New Zealand Justin Trudeau, Malcolm Turnbull and Jacinda Ardern, pregnant with her first child later on Wednesday, who were all reportedly warned to stay away from the bird.
Ducklings hatch every spring in the Downing Street garden. When they are big enough, a member of staff is deputed to open the back gate so they can cross Horse Guards Parade behind the Prime Ministerial office-cum-residence to join the thriving mallard community in St. James’s Park.
“There they can live out their lives in peace. The police help them over the road,” a Downing Street official was quoted as saying.