In India, Queen Elizabeth’s funeral is contested by colonial legacy

NEW DELHI – Jennifer Cooke was in high school when her choir sang for Queen Elizabeth II during the monarch’s first visit to India in 1961.

“She came in a carriage. We had to stand in a straight line and couldn’t look back,” said Cooke, who performed at St. Paul in Calcutta, the once capital of British India. “I don’t remember much more, but she read from the Bible.”

The 70-year-old retiree spent Monday in front of the television in the retirement home in New Delhi, where she now lives, watching with wistfulness as the queen was taken for the last time in a traditional funeral and procession.

In Mumbai, Sarvar Irani dynamically watches the ceremony on her smartphone during her workday as a shopping mall administrative officer. At her home are dozens of rare books, stamps and other memorabilia, collected over the decades, notably Elizabeth and Princess Diana.

“Something about [the queen’s] Her eyes and smile told me she must be a good and kind person,” said Irani, 61.

But most Indians, especially young people, feel little nostalgia. The queen’s death has sparked a complicated conversation here about colonial heritage, and so even as world leaders and heads of state gather in London for the ceremony, There was no sign of grief in the country that was once a key corner of the UK. . Unlike many of his counterparts, Prime Minister Narendra Modi stayed at home.

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

“I was thinking about all the news that wouldn’t make the news,” he said.

In the former British colonies, ghosts of the past haunt the queen

Although India achieved independence before Elizabeth ascended the throne, many felt she could at least apologize for the violence and looting that marked British domination in the subcontinent and led to the division of India and Pakistan.

Historian Jyoti Atwal, who teaches at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, said: “An apology is needed and demanded.

The last time the queen was there was during her third and final visit to India in 1997. Before the visit Jallianwala Bagha site in the north where British troops in 1919 opened fire on a group of unarmed Indian protesters and killed hundreds, the queen romantically acknowledged a bloody past.

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

However, she does not go further, saying that “history cannot be rewritten, although sometimes we may wish otherwise. It has sad moments, as well as happy times. We must learn from sadness and build on joy.”

In Britain’s oldest overseas territory, toast to the Queen

Atwal said that the queen played an important role in reaching the old colonies and that the new king had to decide what to do next. “She laid the groundwork for this kind of renegotiation and reiterated the role between the crown and the colony,” she said. “This is the changed scenario that Charles has to operate in.”

On social media, memes and posts have demanded the return of the Kohinoor, a 105.6-carat diamond that originated in India to adorn the queen’s crown. “Reminder that Queen Elizabeth is not a relic of colonial times,” a noted tweet. “She was an active participant in colonialism.”

And just last week, Modi renamed a street in central Delhi to Kingsway or Rajpath. He describes it as a “The symbol of slavery.”

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

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