A black and white video is circulating on social media which shows the former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru arriving at a public venue and later being honoured in an official ceremony.
In the background of the video, the narrator says, "It is my privilege as Chamberlain of this city to offer you both the right hand of fellowship and greet you, Mr Nehru, as a citizen of London."
While it is true that Nehru was indeed conferred the ‘Freedom of the City of London’ award and was enrolled as the 'citizen of London' in 1956, but it was an honorary citizenship and it does not mean that he became a citizen.
Several social media users, including right-wing commentator, journalist, and academic Madhu Purnima Kishwar, shared this video to claim that Nehru took London's citizenship.
WHAT WE FOUND OUT
The description stated that former Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru and former Prime Minister of New Zealand Sidney Holland received the 'Freedom of the City of London' at the Guildhall.
This video was uploaded on 13 April 2014.
On performing a Google search using relevant keywords, we found the official website of the city of London, which stated that Nehru has been a previous recipient of the Freedom of the City of London award.
It added that "Honorary Freedom is the highest honour the City of London can bestow."
We also came across a video explaining that the tradition is one of the oldest surviving ceremonies, which is still in existence. It is believed to have started in the year 1237.
Next, we searched for archives from news agencies which led us to Associated Press (AP)'s video.
In this video, the narrator stated that Nehru was presented with the 'Freedom of the City' at Guildhall and was accompanied with his daughter, Indira Gandhi.
This video was the longer version of the viral video and also showed Nehru addressing the audience. In his address, Nehru speaks about his early days in London. He then goes on to talk about India and outlines the progress India made since Independence.
We looked for archives of old newspapers on Google News and found an archive of English newspaper Indian Express from 4 July 1956.
The headline of the report read, "NEHRU RECEIVES FREEDOM OF LONDON CITY."
The City of London's official Twitter account also tweeted about Nehru receiving this award in the past. More recently, the regional head of the State Bank of India’s UK operations, Sanjiv Chadha, received the award in 2019.
WHAT ABOUT THE OATH TO THE QUEEN?
While going through the 'City of London' website, we found a declaration, which is to be signed by the recipients of the award.
In one of the videos, uploaded by the City of London Corporation, we could see the same declaration signed by other recipients, indicating that it is a custom. (Can be seen at 2:33 minutes)
Clearly, an honour that Nehru received in 1956 is being shared with a misleading claim now.
(Update: The story has been updated to reflect that the 'Citizen of London' title along with the 'Freedom of the City of London’ award, was an honorary one.)
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