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Queen Elizabeth II: Remembering Her India Visits & Hyderabad Nizam’s Gift To Her

Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-serving monarch, died at 96. 
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  • Namrata Ganguly
  • Editorial
Published -09 Sep 2022, 14:52 ISTUpdated -09 Sep 2022, 15:04 IST
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Queen Elizabeth II, who died at 96 on the afternoon of September 8, 2022, was the first British monarch to inherit the throne after India's Independence from colonial rule. The Queen, who was crowned in 1952, had visited India thrice during her 70-year reign, in 1961, 1983, and 1997. 

In one of her addresses she mentioned about the warmth and hospitality she received during her visits to India. "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. 

Her first visit was in 1961. The Queen along with her husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, went on a tour of Bombay (now Mumbai), Madras (now Chennai), and Calcutta (now Kolkata) and also visited the Taj Mahal and paid tribute to Mahatma Gandhi at Raj Ghat. They were invited by Dr Rajendra Prasad, the first President of independent India, as the Guests of Honour at the Republic Day Parade. 

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The year 1983 marked her second visit to India during the time for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). During this visit the Queen had presented Mother Teresa with an honorary Order of the Merit. 

While the Queen’s third and final visit to India was to mark the 50th anniversary celebrations of India's Independence. Her 1997 tour to India and Pakistan was her first public engagement just weeks after Princess Diana’s funeral. This visit became way more memorable with her going to the Jallianwala Bagh, the site of the April 1919 massacre, to place a wreath at the memorial. During this visit, there were widespread calls for an apology for the thousands killed at the place by the orders of a British General during the colonial rule. 

It was the first time the Queen made a reference to “difficult episodes” of colonial history. “It is no secret that there have been some difficult episodes in our past. Jallianwala Bagh is a distressing example,” she said in her banquet address. 

The Queen had also hosted guests from India on three different occasions including former presidents Dr Radhakrishnan in 1963, R Venkataraman in 1990, and Pratibha Patil in 2009. 

 
 
 
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Besides these, another interesting connection between Britain’s Queen and India is that the Nizam of Hyderabad had presented a Cartier tiara and a diamond necklace to then-Princess Elizabeth. It was a wedding gift in 1947 and she wore it throughout her reign. The Nizam had left instructions with the firm of Cartier in London that Princess Elizabeth should select a wedding gift herself, and this platinum necklace set with approximately 300 diamonds was chosen by her.

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