Queen Elizabeth II passes away at 96: A look at her 3 visits to India
Queen Elizabeth II passed away on Thursday at 96
Queen Elizabeth II passed away on Thursday at 96. She reigned for 70 years, and was the longest serving monarch in British history. Buckingham Palace announced her death in a statement, announcing ten days of national mourning.
“The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon,” the statement said.
The queen’s death came after the palace announced on Thursday that doctors were concerned for her health and recommended, she stay under medical supervision.
The queen had been suffering from age-related mobility issues since last October, and had difficulties walking and standing and had cut down on her travels, with appointing new Prime Minister Liz Truss in Scotland two days earlier.
The eldest of her four children, Charles, Prince of Wales, will become king immediately.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among the top world leaders to express his condolences for the queen and said she will be remembered as the stalwart of our times.
Queen Elizabeth II has visited India thrice during her reign and here we look back at her visits to the country.
Her visit to India which came nearly 15 years after India gained independence and eight years after her coronation, is the most memorable. It was the first visit by not only a British monarch to India after the country got its independence, but also the first visit by a reigning British monarch to the country. Queen Elizabeth, along with her husband the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip visited the national Capital in January 1961. The then president Dr Rajendra Prasad, and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru received the royal couple at the airport. The Queen visited Rajghat and offered a ceremonial wreath at Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial, 13 years after his death. She also inaugurated the institute buildings of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on January 27 at a grand ceremony attended by then President Prasad. The Queen also toured Mumbai, Chennai, and Kolkata, and also visited the Taj Mahal in Agra. They were guests of honour at the invitation of president Dr Prasad, and an image from the tour shows the Queen addressing a massive crowd of several thousand people who had thronged to Ramlila Grounds in Delhi for her address.
In 1983, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip visited India at the invitation of then- President Giani Zail Singh and stayed at the refurbished wing of the Rashtrapati Bhavan. She attended the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and on this visit, the Queen notably presented Mother Teresa with an honorary Order of Merit and also visited India’s then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
Queen Elizabeth’s II final visit to India was in 1997, marking 50 years since India’s independence. The Queen and Prince Phillip met the then president of India KR Narayanan and his wife along with Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral and his wife. They also paid their respects to Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat again. Notably, to mark the 50th anniversary of India’s independence, the Queen visited the Jallianwala Bagh Memorial in Amritsar, amid widespread calls for an apology for the thousands killed at the orders of a British general in 1919, during the colonial era. Back then, the Queen had acknowledged, “It is no secret that there have been some difficult episodes in our past. Jallianwalla Bagh is a distressing example,” in her banquet address. She even bowed her head and placed a wreath at the memorial, as the Independent reported. For the first time, she referred to the difficult episodes of India’s colonial history. The next leg of the tour was in South India. In one of her addresses, the Queen said that she cherished the “warmth and hospitality of the Indian people” she received during her three state visits during her reign, and that “the richness and diversity of India itself has been an inspiration to all of us.” Over the years, the Queen has also hosted three Indian presidents – Dr Radhakrishnan in 1963, R. Venkataraman in 1990 and Pratibha Patil in 2009.