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The Queen of all our hearts

Updated on: 15 October,2022 07:15 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Lindsay Pereira |

It’s sad to note that India didn’t shut down for a week or more to mourn the passing of England’s longest-serving monarch

The Queen of all our hearts

Queen Elizabeth II on her coronation Day. The United Kingdom was projected to spend around 9 million US dollars on her funeral, even as more than 2 million adults in that country were struggling to afford food. File pic/AFP

Lindsay PereiraSeptember was a bad month for England, and I was appalled to note that there was no similar effect in India. The passing of Queen Elizabeth prompted thousands of English citizens to stop focusing on shockingly high energy bills and stand in a queue to pay their respects, and I wondered why there was no equivalent outpouring of grief in our country. I expected at least a week of mourning to process the grief of losing a monarch who had been a fixture in our lives for decades. Yes, she may not have had anything to do with India on paper, but can we really deny how important she was?

Critics may point out that she was not a particularly nice person and didn’t deserve much attention. They may talk about how distanced she was from the common people, how she wasn’t a particularly attentive mother, how she did nothing to protect her daughters-in-law, or how she was complicit in crimes committed by Britain across numerous colonies and territories.

To these critics, I say that it must have been impossible for her to be more approachable, given the massive economic gap that has always existed between Britain’s aristocracy and its working class. It’s why the United Kingdom was projected to spend an estimated 9 million US dollars on her funeral, even as more than 2 million adults in that country have gone without food for a whole day over the past month because they cannot afford to eat. Is it the Queen’s fault that she was rich when the rest of the UK should simply have worked a little harder to earn more money?

That allegation about not protecting her daughters-in-law is also ridiculous because it doesn’t give us the whole picture. Yes, she may have failed to publicly acknowledge the death of Princess Diana for five days and may have failed to step in and protect her newest American daughter-in-law from a vile and perennially racist press, but what we don’t see is how she went above and beyond to care for the only children who mattered in the larger scheme of things—her exceptional sons. We don’t focus on how she didn’t let her oldest son’s alleged adultery get in the way of his professional career as a royal. 
We don’t see how she selflessly spent millions of pounds to protect her younger son from unnecessary accusations of sexual abuse. If these acts don’t make her a great mother, I’m not sure what does.

As for criticism about her staying silent while Britain brutalised its subjects in Kenya, Cyprus, or Northern Ireland, among a host of other countries, it’s unfair to assume she knew what was going on. She only met her country’s many, many prime ministers once every week, and it’s entirely possible that they met to discuss the heath of her many, many dogs rather than matters of state policy. So, why should she be held accountable for something she may have had absolutely no knowledge of?

It’s naïve to attack her for any supposed atrocities given that there has been a long and well-documented history of British war crimes long after the glory days of imperialism ceased to exist. Could the Queen really have been expected to log on to Wikipedia or read an unbiased newspaper and familiarise herself with these crimes when there were tea parties with world leaders to focus on? The very thought is inane.

This brings me to a demand that has cropped up in recent weeks, by some of my more vocal countrymen. They want England to return the Kohinoor diamond now that the Queen has passed away, and I think that’s unfair to her poor family. Yes, her country may have looted close to 45 trillion US dollars in today’s monetary value from us, but it’s important to point out that the Kohinoor is one of a mere 2,800 stones set in the Queen’s crown. To take it away would leave the crown with just 2,799 stones.

We need to be kind and acknowledge that India recently overtook the UK to become the fifth largest economy in the world. Does it make us look good to ask a poorer country for something of value when it has just lost its Queen? I’m glad at least some of us have forgiven the British for the appalling way they treated us for centuries. The Prime Minister conveyed his “deep condolences” and has shown us all how important it is for us to forgive and forget.

When he isn’t ranting about all things Mumbai, Lindsay Pereira can be almost sweet. He tweets @lindsaypereira
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