In India, colonial legacy was contested at Queen Elizabeth’s funeral

New Delhi – Jennifer Cook was in middle school when she sang her choral for Queen Elizabeth II during the king’s first visit to India in 1961.

“She came in a carriage. We had to stand in a straight line and couldn’t turn our eyes,” said Cook, who gave a performance at St Paul’s Cathedral in what was then Calcutta, the capital of British India. “I don’t remember much, but she read from the Bible.”

The 70-year-old spent Monday in front of the television in the New Delhi retirement home where she now lives, watching with a touch of sorrow as the Queen was carried for the last time during a funeral and procession filled with tradition.

In Mumbai, Sarvar Irani watched the ceremony unobtrusively on her smartphone during her working day as an administrative officer at the mall. At home, she has dozens of rare books, stamps, and other memorabilia, collected over the decades, to highlight Elizabeth and Princess Diana.

“something about [the queen’s] Irani, 61, said her eyes and smile told me she should be a kind, gentle person. “That brilliance is gone forever now.”

But most Indians, especially young people, felt a bit of nostalgia. The Queen’s death sparked a complex debate here about the colonial legacy, and even as world leaders and heads of state gathered in London for the service, there was little expression of grief in the country that was once a crucial pillar of the British Kingdom. . Unlike many of his peers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has stayed home.

Mumbai activist Yash Marwa, 27, described the funeral as not a “big deal” and did not watch it. His first thought upon hearing of the Queen’s death on September 8 was that it would overshadow more important events.

“I thought about all the news that wouldn’t make it to the news,” he said.

In the former British colonies, ghosts of the past haunt the mourning for the Queen

Although India gained independence before Elizabeth was crowned queen, many people feel she could have at least apologised for the violence and looting that characterized British rule in the Indian subcontinent and led to the division of India and Pakistan.

“There is a need and demand for an apology,” said historian Jyoti Atwal, a professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi.

The Queen was closest to this on her third and final trip to India in 1997. Before her visit Jallianwala Bagha site in the north where in 1919 British forces fired on a gathering of unarmed Indian protesters and killed hundreds, the Queen indirectly acknowledged the bloody past.

“It’s no secret that there have been some difficult episodes in our past,” she said. “Jallianwala Bagh, which I will visit tomorrow, is a sad example.”

However, she did not go further by saying “History cannot be rewritten, however we sometimes wish. It has moments of sadness and happiness. We must learn from sadness and build on joy.”

In Britain’s oldest overseas territory, bid farewell to Her Majesty

Al-Atwal said that the queen played an important role in communicating with the former colonies and that the new king should decide what to do next. “It laid the groundwork for this kind of renegotiation and recasting of the role between the crown and the colonies,” she said. “This is the changing scenario in which Charles has to operate.”

On social media, memes and posts have demanded the return of the Koh-i-Noor, a 105.6-carat diamond originally from India that adorns the Queen’s crown. “A reminder that Queen Elizabeth is not a colonial relic,” I noticed one tweet. “She was an active participant in colonialism.”

And just last week, Modi renamed a section of the road in the heart of Delhi called Kingsway, or Rajpath. described as Slavery symbol.

“Today, we fill the picture of tomorrow with new colors, leaving the past behind,” he said.

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