A voice not heard in this country for seven decades -‘God save the King’. We have to adjust to not saying ‘God Save the Queen.’
India has been closely associated with the UK, be it the East India Company which embodied the British rule in India and the ravages India faced as a result. But today is a different day, another era.
Queen Elizabeth II remained constant and eased the process of change. Even in 1952 during her coronation, she foresaw the changes ahead and asked for people of “all faiths” to pray for her. She predicted the change. Immigrants from across the world have found refuge, a home and success in this land.
The End of Another Elizabethan Age
Indians, not only from India but Uganda and east Africa found a successful and flourishing career here. Lord Dolar Popat who came from Uganda and is today a life peer told me, “As a young boy I remember hearing of the Queen and her dedication to her people. I did not imagine then to have the pleasure of meeting the Queen and see first-hand the love she had for people and her ability to remember the many countries she visited throughout her lifetime. Many years later I had the fortune to serve in Her Majesty's Government as Minister of the Crown, and the first British Indian Lord in Waiting.
“No other figure has been known and respected throughout the world as much as the Queen. Let us all remember the impact she has had on our lives and celebrating the amazing life she has led.”
Even though I am not a Royalist but the Queen, who, through the years became the nation’s granny, and the love for her spread across countries. She will always have a special place in the hearts of people no matter which country they originated from.
As Lord Popat said, “Today the UK, the Commonwealth and the whole world mourn the death of Her Majesty the Queen. Her Majesty is the personification of our nation’s great history. The Elizabethan age – as it will be known – will reflect her commitment to her people, her dedication to duty and her unwavering resolve which made her the perfect monarch for the people and the times she led”.
The Jewel of the Crown and the Koh-i-Noor
The connection of India with the British monarchy also goes back to the infamous Koh-i-Noor diamond which came from India’s alluvial mines thousands of years ago. According to Hindu belief, it was revered by gods like Krishna—even though it seemed to carry a curse, if the luck of its owners was anything to go by. The gem, which would come to be known as the Koh-i-Noor Diamond, found its way through Indian court intrigues before eventually ending up in the British Crown Jewels by the mid-1800s.
That was another era. Today there are 1.4 million people of Indian origin in the UK and their views will differ, some may be republican, some would support monarchy and some remain ambivalent. But all have a feeling of some sort of loss. It is time to understand how refugees feel, it is not about economic immigrants.
Lord Rami Ranger, an immigrant, who found success here, said, “As an immigrant, I have lived under Her Majesty's reign for over half a century. Her legacy is such that she was the most famous person in the world and the most dedicated public servant for over 70 years. She carried her public duties with utmost grace and elegance. She has been the nation's figurehead throughout some of history's darkest and most joyous moments, our constant in a world of perpetual change. It is with immense gratitude and sorrow we bid her farewell with enduring respect and affection”.
The Bad Taste of Queen Elizabeth's 1997 Visit
Respect is one thing everyone has for her, no matter which country they migrated from. In her reign the country moved forward, embraced refugees and respected immigrants. She remained a constant, adjusted to changing times, and ensured equality.
As Lord Ranger said, “I am one of those fortunate people who received the Royal Honour on eight occasions. I was fortunate to meet Her Majesty on several occasions and received honours from her hand. Whenever I came across her, I found her as the epitome of grace and kindness. She always had her famous smile whilst greeting people. She gave an immense sense of security to her subjects. She was above party politics and could unite the nation regardless of race, religion and colour. Her presence meant her subjects could sleep comfortably, knowing that Her Majesty was looking after her subjects. She will be immensely missed, and our world will be forever changed without her.”
Yes, there is the bitter memory of her 1997 trip to India but today is not the day to dwell on what went wrong, but a person who embraced people of all race and religion.
Indians in the UK have flourished and succeeded in all walks of life reaching some of the highest positions of the government. Many serve in the British armed forces, where and they will all have sworn allegiance to the Queen. There are over 7,000 serving armed forces members from Commonwealth and foreign countries, serving with British armed forces, not including the Gurkhas, who have their own regiments. Of these, some 180 are Indian nationals, all of whom would have sworn allegiance to her Majesty.
Religious Tolerance in the World Struggling with Intolerance
A second generation British-born Indian Tory councillor and co- chair of Conservative Friends of India Reena Ranger said, “Our Queen is the only monarch I have known. Throughout my life, she has been constant in a world of perpetual change.
“Her Majesty has been the nation’s figurehead throughout some of histories darkest and most joyous moments, whatever has happened, we have taken comfort from seeing her and hearing her words. Watching her Christmas message was our family tradition. She will be missed and never forgotten.” Generations do not matter.
Queen Elizabeth II is the head of the Church of England, Britain's state religion first established after King Henry VIII split away from the Catholic Church in Rome in the 16th century. But she gave this country to freely follow any religion they believe in.
We all knew this day would come, she was 96, but no one was ready for it. On a rainy day when she left us, through the streets of London people in droves rushed to Buckingham Palace to remember her. That is her influence.
As Lord Popat said, “This moment was expected and even planned with Operation London Bridge. However, no one can prepare you for when it happens. We will never see her again. But having dedicated a lifetime, it is now our duty to step up and carry forward her lasting legacy.”
The Queen is no more. Now we have Kings Charles III. But British monarchy will never be the same again.
(Nabanita Sircar is a senior journalist based in London. She tweets at @sircarnabanita. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)