End of an era

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The Revolutionary Monarchy - Elizabeth II

By: M Ahmad

Queen Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary) nic named as “Lilibet” was born on 21 April 1926 at in Mayfair, London, was Queen of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms from 6 February 1952 until her death 8 Sep, 2022. She was queen regnant of 32 different sovereign states during her life, and served as monarch of 15 of them at the time of her death. Elizabeth was crowned in 1952 – five years after she married to Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who died in April 2021. In June 2022, Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her Platinum Jubilee, to mark 7 decades of sovereignty.

Queen Elizabeth II will come to be seen as a figure of major historical significance, celebrated for her dedicated public service. In a reign stretching over 70 years, she provided leadership, continuity and a focus for national unity. Bringing people together to help others was something that she championed throughout her reign.

Through her weekly audiences with the prime minister, she became a valued source of wisdom and the keeper of many secrets. She was a political figure, but she was apolitical and above party. She rarely addressed the public, and she never gave interviews, but she was constantly visible, one of the most photographed people in the world.  The monarch she resembled most was Queen Victoria, her great-great-grandmother. Both queens were long-lived. Victoria was the longest-reigning British sovereign, with 63 years on the throne until she was overtaken by Elizabeth in 2015. Both won the respect of a male-dominated political elite.


Elizabeth was the elder daughter of Prince Albert, duke of York, and his wife, Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. As the child of a younger son of King George V, the young Elizabeth had little prospect of acceding to the throne until her uncle, Edward VIII (afterward duke of Windsor), abdicated in her father’s favour on December 11, 1936, at which time her father became King George VI and she became heir presumptive.

Elizabeth II stood still while the world around her changed at bewildering speed. How the monarchy not only survived but prospered in the post-imperial world of the 20th century, where the social deference that had underpinned it had vanished, remains a puzzle. In the last two decades of her reign, the Queen enjoyed record-breaking personal popularity ratings of over 80 per cent. She continued to work full-time well into her nineties. She had become the most popular monarch Britain had ever known – almost a mythological figure. Her greatest passion was for the sport of kings, horse racing; her vacations were spent in hunting, shooting and fishing in Balmoral; her boon companions were dukes and earls.

Britain’s longest-serving monarch Queen Elizabeth II visited India three times in 1961, 1983, and 1997. But her first visit, which was 15 years after India’s Independence, was a significant one given that she was the first reigning monarch to visit the former colony. The Queen visited in 1961 with her husband, the late Duke of Edinburgh Phillip, and presided over the Republic Day Parade as Guest of Honour on the invitation of India’s first President Dr. Rajendra Prasad. When Queen Elizabeth II visited India for the first time in January 1961, the route from the airport in Delhi to the official residence of the Indian president was reportedly packed with nearly a million people.

The Royal couple also toured Bombay, Madras, and Calcutta, and also visited the Taj Mahal in Agra, and paid tribute to Mahatma Gandhi at Raj Ghat in New Delhi. During the Delhi leg of her 1961 tour, she also visited Rajghat and offered a ceremonial wreath at Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial. The Queen and her husband took off their footwear and wore velvet slippers before entering the memorial. She also addressed a massive crowd at Ramlila Grounds in Delhi, where thousands came to listen to her address. “The warmth and hospitality of the Indian people and the richness and diversity of India itself have been an inspiration to all of us,” she said in one of her addresses. At Delhi’s sprawling Ramlila Maidan, the Queen addressed a rapturous gathering of several thousand people. She rode to the Taj Mahal in Agra in an open car waving to the crowds. She visited a steel plant in West Bengal built with British aid and met its workers.

In Kolkata, she visited a monument built in the memory of Queen Victoria. A horse race at the thriving local course was organised for the couple and the Queen presented the cup to the owner of the winning horse. During that visit, the Queen famously presented Mother Teresa with the Insignia of the Honorary Order of Merit on November 24, 1983. On 13 October 1997, the Queen referenced the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in a state banquet address. “It is no secret that there have been some difficult episodes in our past — Jallianwala Bagh, which I shall visit tomorrow, is a distressing example,” she said.  On the next day, 14 October, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh went to Amritsar to pay obeisance at Jallianwala Bagh, where she bowed and placed a wreath at the memorial. During her reign, the monarch hosted three Indian presidents – Dr. Radhakrishnan in 1963, R. Venkataraman in 1990, and Pratibha Patil in 2009, and openly spoke about India and Britain’s partnership in the new century. “Britain and India have a long-shared history which today is a source of great strength in building a new partnership fit for this new century,” the Queen said in her State Banquet address for President Patil at Buckingham Palace.

She met Kamal Hassan, film maker and actor, twice, once during her India visit in 1997 and the second during the actor’s visit to the Buckingham Palace in 2017. Kamal recalled how he hosted her for what was ‘probably the only film shoot she ever attended’. The other guests included actress Gurdas Maan, cricketer Kapil Dev, Gopi, Manish Malhotra, violin maestro L Subramaniam, Sukshinder Shinda, Anoushka Shankar, director Gurinder Chadha, and Big Bang Theory actor Kunal Nayyar with his former Miss India wife Neha Kapur. Apart from that Pooja Hegde and Farah Khan have also met the queen.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi meet Queen Elizabeth II during his vist to UK in 2015. He was received at the queen’s royal residence by the Duke of Edinburgh Prince Philip and discussed issues of mutual interests.

When travelling overseas, The Queen does not require a British passport. She was probably the best-travelled monarch in history. In her 70 years as UK monarch, she travelled to at least 117 different countries – and covered over a million miles, The Queen was on a tour to South Africa when she celebrated her 21st birthday in 1947. In a famous radio address from Cape Town, she dedicated her life to Commonwealth and said she felt “just as much at home” in South Africa as if she had lived there her whole life.

Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-serving monarch, passed away on 8 September 2022 Thursday, at the age of 96 years. Earlier in the day, she was kept under medical supervision at Balmoral, her residence in Scotland. Buckingham Palace in a statement said that following evaluation this morning, the Queen’s doctors were concerned for her health “and have recommended she remain under medical supervision”. The Queen had been suffering from age-related mobility issues for quite some time now, which was why she did not travel to London to appoint new Prime Minister Liz Truss earlier this week. The Queen appointed Truss as PM in Scotland.

By the time of her death, she was still the queen of 15 countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and the UK. The Queen is also the recognised head of state of 14 Commonwealth member states known as Commonwealth realms, which include Australia and New Zealand.

Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral is slated to take place 10 days after her death, which is reserved for a national period of mourning for the monarch. As she died on Sept. 8, 2022, her funeral will be Sept. 18, 2022. The Queen will be buried at the King George VI memorial chapel inside the Windsor Castle, which is also the resting ground of her parents and sister. The Queen’s husband, Prince Philip, who died last year, is buried in the Royal Vault will be moved to lay beside her.

Thousands gathered outside Buckingham Palace, in central London, and there was a stunned silence when the flag was lowered to half-mast. The crowd surged to the gates as the notice announcing the death of the only monarch most Britons have ever known, was attached to the black iron gates.

The news stunned not only people in Britain, the death of the queen, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch and a towering presence on the world stage for seven decades, has drawn condolences from around the world. In a statement released Thursday, Trump wrote that he and his wife Melania would “always cherish our time together with the Queen, and never forget Her Majesty’s generous friendship, great wisdom, and wonderful sense of humor”. In Paris, the mayor announced the lights of the Eiffel Tower would be turned off in honour of her passing; in Brazil, the Christ the Redeemer statue was illuminated with the colours of the Union Jack and the government declared three days of mourning; and the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council both stood for a moment of silence. Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a tweet said he had memorable meetings with Queen Elizabeth II during his UK visits in 2015 and 2018. “I will never forget her warmth and kindness. During one of the meetings, she showed me the handkerchief Mahatma Gandhi gifted her at her wedding. I will always cherish that gesture,” he said.

Elizabeth was known to favour simplicity in court life and was also known to take a serious and informed interest in government business, aside from the traditional and ceremonial duties. Her financial and property holdings made her one of the world’s richest women.

“When peace comes, remember it will be for us, the children of today, to make the world of tomorrow a better and happier place. My sister is by my side and we are both going to say goodnight to you. Come on, Margaret. Goodnight, children. Goodnight, and good luck to you all.”- Queen Elizabeth

(M Ahmad is a regular writer for this newspaper and can be reached at [email protected])









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