Remembering Queen Elizabeth II Through Her Visits To India

One of the iconic moments is when the British monarch met former Indian PM Indira Gandhi in 1983.

Published On Sep 09, 2022 | Updated On Mar 08, 2024


Queen Elizabeth II, the longest reigning monarch of Britain, has passed away. “The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon,” read the caption of The Royal Family’s official Instagram account on September 8, 2022. As her country and her followers across the globe mourn the passing of the legendary personality. Even India will observe one-day state mourning on September 11, 2022, as a mark of respect. The National Flag will be flown at half-mast throughout India on all buildings where the National Flag is flown regularly and there will be no official entertainment on the day.

The late Queen acceded to the throne in 1952, after the death of her father King George VI and five years after India’s independence from colonial rule. But in the last 70 years, Queen Elizabeth II has on numerous occasions expressed the importance of the socio-economic and cultural ties between the two nations. She came to India during her reign for three State Visits. These were in 1961, 1983, and 1997, and she was accompanied by her husband and the Duke of Edinburgh, late Prince Philip. 

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According to reports, in one of her addresses, the late Queen had said: “The warmth and hospitality of the Indian people and the richness and diversity of India itself have been an inspiration to all of us.”

Post India’s Independence in 1947, on January 21, 1961, the British monarch and her husband visited the country in 1961. She was welcomed by India’s first president Dr Rajendra Prasad, Vice President Dr S Radhakrishnan, and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru at the airport.

The late Queen was the guest of honour at the Republic Day parade that year and addressed a massive crowd at the Ramlila Ground during the event. 

Her India tour took her to Jaipur, Rajasthan, where she met the then Maharaja of Jaipur Sawai Man Singh II at the City Palace. Apart from Jaipur, she also visited the Taj Mahal in Agra and the Gateway of India in Mumbai. 

In 1983, the British monarch and the late Prince Philip were in India in time for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). 

During this tour, she also met the then-Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, a powerhouse woman like her. Both were wearing attire that represented their home countries and defined understated elegance in their unique ways. The Indian PM was dressed in a beige and black saree, and the British monarch had donned an elegant powder blue pleated dress.   

During the same visit, Queen Elizabeth II presented Mother Teresa II with the Insignia of the Honorary Order of Merit. Established in 1902 by King Edward VII, admission to the Order is the personal gift of the British Sovereign.

She returned to India when India was celebrating 50 years of Independence. During this visit, the late Queen paid homage at the War Centenary in New Delhi, and even visited the Jallianwala Bagh and Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab. 

In her speech during the State banquet, she famously acknowledged the Jalianwala Bagh massacre. “It is no secret that there have been some difficult episodes in our past. Jallianwala Bagh is a distressing example…" of the colonial era.


Queen Elizabeth II also hosted three Indian presidents at Buckingham Palace: Dr. Radhakrishnan in 1963, R. Venkataraman in 1990 and Pratibha Patil in 2009. The same year, she also met with ex-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the banquet hosted at Buckingham Palace for G20 Summit.

Most recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with the queen during his visits to UK in 2015 and 2018. During one of the visits, the Queen shared the memory of Mahatma Gandhi gifting her a handkerchief at her wedding, with him.

As part of the Commonwealth of Nations, India is connected to UK--it was something Queen Elizabeth II was always cognizant of. Irrespective of global politics and common history, she always was hopeful for a better future of both the nations.

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