Colonial Replicas to Controversial Kashmir Remark: All About Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth's India Visits

News18
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Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, passed away on Friday at Windsor Castle in UK. Queen Elizabeth’s companion for 73 years, was 99. The Duke of Edinburgh had been by his wife’s side throughout her 69-year reign, the longest in British history, during which time he earned a reputation for a tough, no-nonsense attitude and a propensity for occasional gaffes. “It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh,” the palace said in a statement. The two were married in November 1947.

Since then, the couple had been by each other’s side as they made tours around the world, visited the commonwealth countries. A Greek prince, Philip played a key role in modernising the monarchy in the post-World War Two period, and behind the walls of Buckingham Palace being the one key figure the queen could turn to and trust. “He has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years,” Elizabeth said in a rare personal tribute to Philip made in a speech marking their 50th wedding anniversary in 1997.

India, projected as ‘jewel in the Crown’, by the British held a special place in post-colonial world and the royal couple made several visits to the country, once a part of its empire. Here is a look at the official visits that Queen Elizabeth made to India alongside her now deceased husband Prince Philip.

1961

The royal couple visited India for the fist time in 1961, 14 years after the British left India and nine years after she took charge of the throne. “Two million Indians, including many leaders who have been in British jails, will be on hand to welcome them,” the Chicago Tribune wrote about the couple’s India visit as they arrived to a grand welcome. The grandeur of the event was covered in the international media. The couple visited Bombay, Madras, Jaipur, Agra and Calcutta. Tiger hunting hosted by Maharaja of Jaipur was one of the first events of their royal tour. They were the guests of honour for the Republic Day parade in Delhi that year. Amid much fanfare, people lined the streets in Madras to catch a glimpse of the couple, while a holiday was announced in Banaglore.

They attended races in Calcutta and Bombay and visited to the Taj Mahal. During this visit, Prince Philip played polo as a reminder that the sport originated in India.

1983

The royal couple’s next visit to India was in 1983 when the then prime minister Indira Gandhi ensured that the couple lived in the splendour of the British Raj. The New York Times then had reported that Indira Gandhi referred to old photographs and consulted elders who lived before the Independence to get even the minutest details of colonial era lifestyle in place. Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth had stayed in the guest wing of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, once the home of the British Viceroy. The then prime minister had gotten the suite’s Kashmiri style decor replaced with that of the furnishings as they were during the days of the Raj. However, the menu was modified to match their taste buds and had little Indian food to offer. “Although India officially condemns colonialism throughout the world, Indians are still fascinated by the lifestyle of the British Raj,” an American news agency had then reported.

1997

To mark India’s 50th Independence anniversary, the Royal couple once again visited the former colony in 1997. However, the visit took a controversial turn when the British Foreign Secretary making a remark about the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan. the remark did not go well with the politicians on the Indian side. The then prime minister had snubbed UK’s intervention and called it a ‘third rate political power.’ But the highlight of the royal couple’s visit was when they visited Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar and laid a wreath on the site at which General Dyer had opened fire at a gathering of Indians in 1919.

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