India mourns Queen Elizabeth II regardless of complicated legacy

On a day of nationwide mourning, feelings over the passing of Queen Elizabeth II ran the gamut in one-time colony India — from expressions of sympathy and disappointment from political leaders and Bollywood celebrities to calls for on social media for the return of the Kohinoor diamond, at present among the many British crown jewels.

“Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will be remembered as a stalwart of our times,” tweeted Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “She provided inspiring leadership to her nation and people. She personified dignity and decency in public life. Pained by her demise. My thoughts are with her family and people of UK in this sad hour.”

Others stated the queen, and her possessions, proceed to represent the exploitative nature of colonial rule.

“Flaunting the Kohinoor on the Queen Mother’s crown in the Tower of London is a powerful reminder of the injustices perpetrated by the former imperial power,” wrote Indian lawmaker and writer Shashi Tharoor. “Until it is returned at least as a symbolic gesture of expiation it will remain evidence of the loot, plunder and misappropriation that colonialism was really all about.”

The Kohinoor, one of many largest lower diamonds on the planet and estimated to be value greater than $200 million, was found within the 14th century in southern India. In keeping with the Archeological Survey of India, the Maharaja of Lahore “surrendered” the diamond to Britain’s Queen Victoria in 1849.

Elizabeth, who died Thursday, grew to become queen in 1952, 5 years after India gained independence, and he or she visited India in 1971, 1983 and 1997.

On her first journey, the queen toured Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata, addressed a gathering of 1000’s of individuals in New Delhi, and visited the Taj Mahal in Agra in an open-top automotive, waving to crowds that warmly welcomed her.

Her 1983 journey, during which she offered the Order of Benefit to Mom Teresa, additionally went easily.

Her third go to marked the fiftieth anniversary of India’s independence, and he or she made a cease on the Jallianwala Bagh, a web site within the North Indian metropolis of Amritsar, the place British troops had fired upon a peaceable gathering of protesters in 1919. The incident — which British Prime Minister David Cameron referred to in 2013 as “a shameful event in British history” — left a whole lot lifeless.

Many in India anticipated the queen to ship a proper apology throughout that 1997 go to. However she stopped quick, saying, “It is no secret that there have been some difficult episodes in our past — Jallianwala Bagh, which I shall visit tomorrow, is a distressing example. But history cannot be rewritten, however much we might sometimes wish otherwise.”

Saiyid Zaheer Husain Jafri, professor of medieval Indian historical past at Delhi College, stated the British authorities have at all times mistreated and ill-treated the royal homes in India. “The monarchy cannot be detached from this history,” he stated. “The colonial rule has left India with legacies we are still struggling with. The British looted India for 200 years.”

For a lot of now in India, nevertheless, Elizabeth had, at worst, a benign picture, additional leavened by her portrayal within the Netflix collection “The Crown.”

“I know many people who had no sense of the British royal family, but they watched ‘The Crown,’ were addicted to the show and also connected with Queen Elizabeth on an emotional level,” stated Aseem Chhabra, writer and competition director of New York Indian Movie Pageant. “These people were young when Princess Diana died. But the Netflix show gave them a human perspective of the royal family, especially the late queen.”

Her gesture of inviting three members from Mumbai Dabbawala Assn., a tiffin (meal) supply service, for her son then-Prince Charles’ marriage ceremony in 2005 had additionally been broadly appreciated.

The president of the affiliation, Ulhas Muke, 39, stated when his colleagues met the queen, they discovered her “extremely humble.”

“She was curious about us and our work,” he stated. “She spoke to us very well. We had never thought some of us would get to see Buckingham Palace. We are saddened by her death.”