At some point during the broadcast of the late monarch’s lying in a state ceremony at Westminster Hall, you may have witnessed a spectacle of a minute where a batch of people queuing up to see the coffin arrived. Among them were two Muslim women (a mother and daughter) who prayed to Allah - making a ‘dua’ for the departed soul; at the same time some Gurkha men marched in civil clothes with folded hands and saluted the Queen’s coffin; a British Sikh man came forward to bow down and went down on his knees to place his forward on the floor (conventionally termed as ‘matha tekna’), and several women with a dupatta on their head bowed down with folded hands in prayer. This was the multicultural Britain that the monarch nurtured for over 70 years of her reign. Coincidently, another rainbow appeared in the sky, like the one that overarched Buckingham Palace the day the monarch breathed her last. A spider was spotted among the flowers in the wreath over her coffin, which is considered to be a good omen.
More than 250,000 people queued up to see the Queen lying in state at Westminster Hall, in queues that were as long as 10 miles. The longest reigning monarch of Britain, Queen Elizabeth II was buried in a private ceremony at St George’s Chapel in Windsor. The Queen now lies in eternal peace alongside her husband Prince Philip, sister Princess Margaret, mother Queen Elizabeth I and father King George VI.
The monarch may be no more, but with her passing, she gave Britain, the gift of reconciliation of the Royal family. Her four children, King Charles III, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward walked behind her coffin guarded by royal regiments with state honours across the UK with cloudy eyes, and grim faces but heads held high. Princess Royal glanced at her brother with concern as he stared at the floor. He also appeared emotional during the singing of the national anthem inside the abbey. The Queen’s funeral brought together Prince of Wales, Prince William and Prince Harry along with their respective spouses Princess of Wales, Catherine and Meghan Markle. The two brothers along with their cousins marched in the royal vigil for their beloved grandmother in unison. The Queen’s great-grandchildren showed enormous maturity and courage with grace at her funeral at Windsor Castle where the little Princess Charlotte showed her older brother, Prince George, to bow to the Queen as her coffin passed in the procession from Westminster Abbey to the castle at Windsor. In a heart-warming broadcast, viewers warmed the cockles of their hearts, not just by seeing a reunion among the royals, but also witnessing the Queen’s pony and her two corgis who stood outside the castle as their Queen made way to her final journey.
The monarch is gone. Her bloodline is left behind and the good she did in her lifetime, especially to the Commonwealth nations and the British Indian community will never be forgotten. Members of the community, including former home secretary Priti Patel, industrialist Gopichand Hinduja, Lord Rami Ranger CBE, Cllr Ameet Jogia MBE, and renowned PR professional Sangeeta Waldron were among the many ethnic minority members who paid their last respects to the Queen.
Queue in like Beckham
More than 250,000 people saw the Queen lying in state in Westminster Hall in London, the cultural secretary revealed on Tuesday. One member of the public queued up twice in the same night to see the Queen lying in state. Britons queued round the clock from late last Wednesday until 6.30 am on 19th September, the day of the Queen's funeral, to see her coffin in Westminster Hall. The queue stretched from parliament along the south bank of the Thames and past Tower Bridge to Southwark Park. The mayor of London's office said an estimated 80,000 people were in Hyde Park, 75,000 in ceremonial viewing areas and 60,000 on South Carriage Drive. Overall numbers will be much higher as crowds formed on virtually the entire route to Windsor, where Thames Valley Police said 100,000 people had turned out.
Football Captain David Beckham was standing in the queue for more than 12 hours and patiently waited for his chance to come. As per The Guardian, David Beckham said, “Every time that we stood there when we wore those three lions shirts and I had my armband and we sang God Save the Queen, that was something that meant so much to us. Every time that we did it, it was something special. So this day was always going to be difficult, and it’s difficult for the nation, it’s difficult for everyone around the world because I think everyone is feeling it, and our thoughts are with the family and obviously with everybody here today.” “Because it’s special to be here, to celebrate, and to hear the different stories that people have to say. I thought by coming at 2 am it was going to be a little bit quieter – I was wrong,” David said.
The ex-secretary of state Priti Patel was seen by a mourner on Sunday who pulled her aside for a picture as the queue stretched for up to five miles with a waiting time of 24 hours at one point during the four-day lying-in-state in Westminster. In her tribute to the Queen, the former minister thanked the late monarch for her “lifetime of duty and public service to the people of this country, the Commonwealth and other parts of the world”.
“For seventy years she has been a constant in our public life and an inspiration. Speaking with residents in Witham, they all remember how the late Queen was always there for us, in good times and bad, and send their sincere and heartfelt condolences to King Charles III and the Royal Family,” she added,
Tribute paid to Her Majesty by ZTFE
A Service of Commemoration and Thanksgiving for Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was organised by the Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe (ZTFE) on 17 September Saturday at Zoroastrian Centre, Rayners Lane. While paying tribute to Her Majesty, speakers said, the Queen lived life with pride and commitment. She was the Monarch of all Monarchs; she was the most respected Monarch by heart. Malcolm Deboo President ZTFE, Lord Karan Bilimoria CBE DL, Rusi K Dalal, Dorabji, Navinbhai Shah CBE, Shenaz, Ashok Chauhan Warrant Officer Army, Sir Rohinton Kalifa OBE, Harmander Singh shared the most special memories with the audience.
Sharing his sentiments, Lord Rami Ranger CBE told the newsweekly, “The nation owed Her Majesty the Queen a huge debt of gratitude for giving 70 years of public service with passion, commitment and dedication. The least one could do to appreciate her services was to pay her the last respect while she lay in state in Westminster Hall. It was a moving experience watching people in the queue for up to 20 hours to say goodbye to our gracious Queen with utmost gratitude. British Armed Forces gave the Queen a dignified and befitting send-off. May she rest in peace in heaven. God save the King.
Councillor Ameet Jogia MBE - awarded an MBE by Her Majesty the Queen for political and public services in this summer’s Platinum Jubilee Honours List also paid his last respects to the Queen at Westminster Hall. He told Asian Voice, “Having worked in Parliament for over a decade we have been made very familiar with Operation London Bridge. The significance of Westminister Hall has been ingrained in us, from the plaques that we walk past every day reminding us of past lying in states, to yearly rehearsals. However, the Queen’s passing still caught me off guard. In an ironic sense, having been our constant, we all thought the Queen would be with us forever. The events of the last few weeks have moved not just the nation, but the entire world. From crowds flocking to Buckingham Palace, to mile-long queues for Lying in State, to dedicated crowds gathering for the funeral of a lifetime. It was testimony to how much the Queen meant to us all. But it wasn’t just us. The way the international community gathered in London, reminded us of the incredible role that the monarchy plays in keeping us on the global stage. With the highest number of world leaders present together in one place, over half the world’s population is said to have watched the funeral on TV. The Queen’s funeral reflected why we are still “Great” Britain.”
Kirit Modi told us, “It was a great honour to represent the National Kidney Federation and the Jain and Hindu Organ Donation steering group (JHOD) at the Queen's funeral at Westminster Abbey on 19 September 2022. The service was amazing. The choir and the hymns were the highlights for me. It was most humbling to be in the presence of the Royal family, world and UK leaders and many passionate individuals representing charities at this historic occasion. Rest in peace Queen Elizabeth II.”
Speaking to Asian Voice about bidding adieu to the Queen one last time, Sangeeta Waldron, Founder, Serendipity PR & Media, “We have been witnessing history, never seen before, and it was so important as a proud British Asian to pay my respects to our Queen and say thank you for her service. It has been a time of ceremony and sorrow. As a family we wanted to pay our respects to the Queen when she was lying in state and queued for 13 hours, which was nothing when compared to the Queen’s 70 years of dedicated service; and for the final chapter, we joined the crowds along the Mall to say goodbye when the Queen made her final journey from Westminster Abbey to Windsor. The Queen will never be forgotten.”
Mayura Patel, Hindu Representative from Croydon shared her message for the Queen, where she stated that the people of the Indian diaspora thank her for creating a multicultural Britain and for allowing them to make Britain their home, away from their homeland. “We salute your commitment that you demonstrated towards the people of this country and the Commonwealth and many sacrifices that you had to make on your Royal journey.”
Gopichand P Hinduja spoke about the late Queen’s 70-year reign and said that her love and respect for India was unwavering. He reminisced about her reign as a young boy. “For 60 years my family has lived in London. I and other family members have had the honour of meeting the Majesty,” he said as he continues to pray for her departed soul. The Hindjuas met the Queen last year at Windsor.
World leaders pay tribute to the Queen
India’s President Smt Droupadi Murmu visited London from 17-19 September to attend the State Funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Murmu paid her respects to the Queen lying in state at Westminster Hall and signed the condolence book at Lancaster House on 18 September 2022. President met King Charles III at a reception held at Buckingham Palace on the same day. On the 19th, she attended the State Funeral service held at the Westminster Abbey.
Other world leaders included US President Joe Biden whose Limo, famously known as ‘The Beast’ got stuck in traffic outside Pret while he was on his way to the Abbey. Mr Biden arrived at the abbey in his bomb-proof limousine, with his wife Jill, and they were received by the dean of Westminster Abbey. President Emmanuel Macron of France and President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her counterparts from Canada, Justin Trudeau, and Australia, Anthony Albanese, were also seen watching the coffin be brought into Westminster Abbey. China's Vice President Wang Qishan was also seen in the abbey, attending as the special representative of President Xi Jinping, despite concerns over China's treatment of the Uyghur people. Other royals and monarchs from all over the world also gathered in St George's Chapel, Windsor, to say their final goodbyes to the Queen.
Sparking debate, Armenian President Vahagn Khachaturyan - a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin was snapped by a flunky at the foot of the Queen's coffin. According to The Sun, the staff in the hall were left outraged by the incident. Granny Janet Taylor spotted the dignitary having his picture taken as she watched on TV to see her two sons, who had been queuing for 13 hours, pass the Queen's coffin.
Challenges await King Charles
Amid the cost-of-living crisis, unrest in Leicester, healthcare crisis and more challenges, King Charles told faith leaders hailing from different religions that he has a personal “duty to protect the diversity in our country”. The new monarch, while speaking at a reception at Buckingham Palace, reiterated his own Christian beliefs and vowed to protect faith as it is practised through different “religions, cultures, traditions and beliefs”. He highlighted the multicultural nature of Britain, saying: “I have always thought of Britain as a ‘community of communities’.
“That has led me to understand that the sovereign has an additional duty – less formally recognised but to be no less diligently discharged.
“It is the duty to protect the diversity of our country, including by protecting the space for faith itself and its practice through the religions, cultures, traditions and beliefs to which our hearts and minds direct us as individuals.”
Charles pledged to carry out his duties as sovereign of the UK and the Commonwealth “in a way which reflects the world in which we now live”.
The King expressed his concerns over the cost-of-living crisis and has promised to protect religious diversity. He told faith leaders that his responsibility as sovereign was to defend the practising of all “religions, cultures, traditions and beliefs”. The King’s comments came as mourners wishing to pay their respects to the Queen were warned of 24-hour queues. People who were willing to join the queue to see the Queen's coffin were told to temporarily stay away after it reached capacity. Later, it was announced on social media that the queue had reopened, the estimated waiting time was 24 hours, with mourners warned of low temperatures overnight.
Countries want their jewels back
Following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, former British colonies want the royal family to return some of the world's most famous jewels. When the British Empire was acquiring colonies, precious stones were taken and presented as souvenirs or the spoils of war. These stones are embedded within the crown jewels and have been put on display repeatedly for this period of national mourning. From South Africa renewed calls are being made for the UK to return the world’s largest known clear-cut diamond, the Great Star of Africa also known as Cullinan I, now the centrepiece in the Queen’s sceptre. A petition has been signed by more than 6,000 people asking for the Great Star of Africa to be sent back to its supposed place of origin and put in a South African museum.
Similarly, India has now started calling for its jewel, Koh-i-Noor, in one of Britain’s crowns, back. But it is currently sitting at the top of the Queen Mother’s crown, which was first made back in 1937 for her coronation as King George VI’s Queen consort.
MPs criticise the decision to invite China to Queen’s funeral
A group of MPs and peers sanctioned by China have expressed serious concerns about the Chinese Government being invited to the Queen’s funeral. Senior Tory MPs Tim Loughton and Sir Iain Duncan Smith wrote to the Commons Speaker and Lord Speaker, calling it an “extraordinary” decision. The letter, also signed by crossbench peer Lord Alton and Labour peer, Baroness Kennedy, says: “We are greatly concerned to hear that the Government of China has been invited to attend the state funeral next week, despite other countries Russia, Belarus and Myanmar being excluded." Currently, the Chinese leader is meeting Russian president Vladimir Putin at a summit in Uzbekistan. In the letter, the parliamentarians wrote to Foreign Secretary James Cleverly to express their concerns, saying that it was particularly inappropriate given that seven parliamentarians including ourselves remain sanctioned by the Chinese Government and that the Lords Speaker have quite rightly barred the Chinese Ambassador from attending the Palace of Westminster whilst these unjustified sanctions remain in place.
(With inputs from journalist Rupali Shinde)