President of India Droupadi Murmu and Acting High Commissioner Sujit Ghosh sign book of condolence at Lancaster House in London
President of India Droupadi Murmu and Acting High Commissioner Sujit Ghosh sign book of condolence at Lancaster House in LondonCourtesy: Jonathan Hordle/PA Media Assignments

President Murmu bids farewell to the Queen on behalf of India

Indian President Droupadi Murmu was among the nearly 500 world leaders and 2,000 congregation that gathered at Westminster Abbey in London on September 19 for the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II.

The late monarch, who died peacefully at her Balmoral Castle residence in Scotland on September 8, will be laid to rest in a private burial ceremony at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle. Her coffin will be placed next to that of her late husband, Prince Philip, at the King George VI Memorial Chapel.

Over the weekend, the Indian President arrived in the UK and paid her respects to the Queen as she lay in state at Westminster Hall. She also signed the condolence book at Lancaster House and conveyed her condolences on behalf of the Indian government.

“In the 70 years of reign of HM Queen Elizabeth II, India-UK ties have evolved, flourished and strengthened immensely. She played an important role in the welfare of millions of people around the world as Head of the Commonwealth,” the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a statement.

The Indian President also attended a special reception hosted by King Charles III at Buckingham Palace on the eve of the funeral.

“Almost 200 people who were recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours earlier this year will also join the congregation, including those who made extraordinary contributions to the response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and have volunteered in their local communities,” Buckingham Palace said.

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Britain’s longest-reigning monarch’s state funeral marked the conclusion over 10 days of mourning and concluded with a two-minute national silence.

The Indian diaspora community across the UK had also joined in the mourning, with gatherings and prayer meetings. A gathering of around 600 representatives of temples and interfaith organisations from across the UK gathered for prayers meet organised by the Anoopam Mission Swaminarayan Temple in west London. Muna Chauhan, an ambassador for the Queen’s Green Canopy tree plantation initiative launched to mark the Platinum Jubilee of her reign this year, announced plans to plant 7,000 trees across the UK on behalf of the British Hindu community.

“Of these, 1,008 trees will be planted at the first Hindu crematorium in the UK, on the grounds of Anoopam Mission. These trees will be a symbol of renewed hope and friendship,” she said.

The BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir, known as Neasden Temple, which has been visited by King Charles III over the years as the former Prince of Wales, also offered prayers of condolence and support.

“Her Majesty connected universally with compassion and warmth across many generations. It was wonderful to see so many people – from young children through to grandparents – take an opportunity to offer their personal tributes and prayers for Her Majesty,” said Tarun Patel, one of the volunteers who helped with the prayer assemblies at the temple in north-west London.

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Another prayer ceremony with a havan was held over the weekend at the Radha Krishna Temple Hindu Centre in Liverpool. Multi-faith tributes were offered by representatives of major faiths from across the north west of England, said Dr Shiv Pande, one of the organisers of the prayer meet who was conferred an MBE by the late Queen.

“The events of recent days are a reminder of the strength of our constitution, a system of government which in so many ways is the envy of the world,” said Earl Marshal, the Duke of Norfolk, who holds the hereditary role with the responsibility for the delivery of state occasions such as the state funeral.

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