Queen May Have Expired But King George III Lives On
9th September, 2022, a Sunday originally earmarked to get rid of symbols of slavery and colonial baggage of India, coincidentally became a day of mourning for Great Britain (G.B). Queen Elizabeth II (Q.E.), its longest serving monarch had breathed her last after seeing 96 springs.She ruled over G.B. and fourteen other countries, including, Canada, Australia and New Zealand for a long spell of seventy long years. Her great- great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, earlier held the distinction of being the longest reigning Monarch for sixty three years and seven months.
As the second “Elizabethan” age came to an end and her eldest child Prince Charles “automatically” became King, the word ” King” replaced the word “Queen” in the relevant portions of the national anthem.Strangely, the declaration in regard to new Monarch has been already issued even when the funeral of late Queen has been scheduled only for 19th September.
Q.E. ascended to the throne, vacated by her father King George VI on June 2,1952 at the young age of 25 years. Thus, she was destined to live a full life in the company of her four children, six to eight grandchildren and four great grandchildren, a rare feat for any human being. At the same time, at personal level, she saw and faced marriage break ups of most of her children and could not manage a compromise between Prince William(now Prince of Wales) and Prince Harry,(living like a commoner in Canada) despite her best efforts.
To refer to the current threats to humankind, she saw most of the precursors to the deadly CoronaVirus: MERSE I, II, III and SARS-I, apart from the world winning over the miseries of World War II, cold wars, creation of Israel & Palestine on the one hand and setbacks to western imperialistic designs in Vietnam,Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, on the other. She, however, kept mum over ongoing, uncalled for destruction and devastation by Russia over Ukraine.
A Tall Symbol of Constitutional Monarchy ?
Late Queen was regarded as the tall symbol of Constitutional Monarchy, still in vogue in 19 countries, such as, Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, Netherland, Norway, Sweden, Spain, Monaco, Andorra, Bhutan, Cambodia, Japan, Jordan, Malaysia, Morocco, U.A.E, Thailand, Lesotho and Tonga. Whereas, there are nine Absolute Monarchies still in existence.These are: Brunei, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Vatican, Eswatini and Malta.
In her own country,15 Prime Ministers worked with her and seven of them -Gordon Brown, Tony Blair, John Major, David Cameron,Theresa May, Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, still surviving, went to pay their homage to her. It is rather sad that within just two days of appointing her last P.M., she had to bid good bye to the world. Also it happened a few hours prior to the unveiling of a 28 feet high statue of Netaji Subhas Bose at India Gate in Delhi over the vacant canopy, earlier having the statue of King George V of G.B.
Talking of Indo-British relations, the late Queen is reported to have evinced interest in it , having visited India thrice, the last time in 1997. She hosted two Indian Presidents- Venkataraman and Pratbha Patil and two Prime Ministers, namely, Manmohan Singh and Narendra Modi called on her. In the same way, five of the six surviving Prime Ministers of the UK have visited India.Only Gordon Brown, perhaps, could not make it.
Though the USA now seems to be maintaining distance from Pakistan, the UK still has somewhat close links with India’s untrustworthy and murmuring neighbour.
Memories of Princess Diana
Now that Prince Charles has become King George III (K.G.) and head of a shrinking Commonwealth, on this day one misses the charm, grace and beauty of late Princess Diana, who incidentally, was not liked by Q.E. on account of her flamboyant ways of dressing as also her mixing attitude with the commoners. The new king also did not utter a word about her, though he mentioned Princess Camilla, now conferred the title of Queen Consort.
Legacy of Mumbai Dabbawalas
The new King has paid visits to India several times more to renew contacts with remnants of Indian Princely States rather than to pursue his hobby or interest in charity work.But of all his engagements in India, his interaction with the unique Dabbawala organisation(set up in 1890) at Mumbai on November 4, 2003, will always be considered a memorable event.Their honour of ” Excellence of Service” bestowed by the Howard University for their superb time management has no parallel.To maintain their link and to greet the then Prince Charles on the occasion of his second wedding to Ms.Camilla, they sent a large embroidered turban to him as a precious marriage gift.
Future of Bi-lateral Relations
It remains to be seen whether King Charles will play a role in influencing and further promoting the bi-lateral relations between the two countries in view of a large presence of Indian diaspora and Indian students in G.B. Also the fact that many of the Indians have succeeded to become members of both the houses of British Parliament over the years and some of them have also served as Cabinet Ministers, should be also a favourable factor. Ms. Suella Braverman, the former Attorney General and new Secretary of State of Home Department of G.B., too happens to be an Ex-Goan.
It was for the first time that Rishi Sunak, a Conservative party M.P. of Indian origin, not only served as a powerful Chancellor of Exchequer in the Boris Johnson Government, but he also challenged the might of Liz Truss, the present P.M. According to grapevine, he may emerge as a strong contender for the post of P.M. again when G.B.holds next General Elections, two years from now.
The ruling Conservatives, having been traditionally away from showing interest in Indian affairs as opposed to the Labour party, are now reversing their policy.At a time when India has taken the coveted place of G.B. as the 5th largest economy of the world, it may be of interest to see the oblique or passive support of G.B. to India’a claim as a member of UNGA turning into an active one. In heart to heart, the erstwhile slavery or colonial hindrance keeps coming in between, time and again. If some other permanent members of the UN General Assembly have had a rethinking in view of growing scientific & nuclear strength and overall future prospects of India, why shouldn’t the old attitude or policy of the British Government undergo a change ?
That day is not far, when countries of the world will not be looking at each other only from being close or far off, owing to Geo political considerations. The Geo economics supported by rapid strides in the field of S & T and communications is bound to reduce the gap created by distance. It was amply proved so during the ongoing, if not ending Virtual era, necessitated by the Covid-19 constraints.
(The author is former Chief Secretary, Sikkim)