Indian PM Narendra Modi leads tributes to the Duke of Edinburgh

Indian PM Narendra Modi leads tributes to the Duke of Edinburgh
Courtesy: WPA Pool / Pool | Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi led a worldwide outpouring of tributes for Britain’s Prince Philip – the Duke of Edinburgh – and condolences to his wife, Queen Elizabeth II, and the royal family after the 99-year-old senior royal passed away peacefully at Windsor Castle early on April 9.

The Indian PM said: “My thoughts are with the British people and the Royal Family on the passing away of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

“He had a distinguished career in the military and was at the forefront of many community service initiatives. May his soul rest in peace.”

The Indian High Commission in London said: “Deeply saddened at sad demise of HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, an iconic pillar of the British monarchy, regarded by his people and world with the highest esteem and affection.

“India had the honour of receiving him and HM The Queen on four memorable occasions.”

Several tributes have been pouring in for the Duke, who had recently been discharged from hospital in London after a heart procedure.

“The British Asian Trust offers our condolences on the passing of His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh. Our thoughts are with Her Majesty The Queen and the Royal Family at this time,” read the tribute from the South Asia focussed charity set up by Prince Philip’s son, Prince Charles.

During his extensive years of royal service as the longest-serving consort in British history, the Duke of Edinburgh not only accompanied the Queen on four major royal visits to India (1959, 1961, 1983 and 1997) but also received many Indian heads of state at Buckingham Palace, including former Indian President Pratibha Patil (pictured).

His nearly 65-year-long career in royal service before retirement in 2017 was not free of controversies, down to his many infamous gaffes over the years.

During his 1961 visit to India, he was pictured with the Queen and the Maharaja and Maharani of Jaipur with a dead eight-foot tiger he had shot while on a hunt. It happened to be the same year he became president of the World Wildlife Fund UK. Later in life he was to become known as an environmentalist and “champion of the natural world”, as UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson referred to him in his tribute from Downing Street.

During his last royal visit to India to mark the 50th anniversary of Indian independence in 1997, he joined the Queen on a visit to Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar where the royals laid a commemorative wreath at the site associated with General Dyer’s orders to open fire on a large gathering in April 1919.

Among his many infamous gaffes was his query of the death toll at the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.

"Two thousand? It wasn't, was it," he questioned, as he passed by a plaque at the memorial, which read “This place is saturated with the blood of about two thousand Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims who were martyred in a non-violent struggle".

In 2009, he directed a comment at British Indian entrepreneur Atul Patel during a Buckingham Palace reception: “There’s a lot of your family in tonight.”

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