Queen Elizabeth II Death | Memories are still fresh when Queen Elizabeth II visited Kolkata 61 years ago

Queen Elizabeth II Death | Memories are still fresh when Queen Elizabeth II visited Kolkata 61 years ago
Queen Elizabeth II Death | Memories are still fresh when Queen Elizabeth II visited Kolkata 61 years ago

The image of the eager but restrained crowd on the glittering streets of Calcutta can still be seen in some old British movie reels. The warm reception of Calcutta during Ranimar’s visit to India marked the beginning of a new chapter in Britain’s relationship with India. Standing next to Governor Padmaja Naidu sitting in an open-top car, Queen Elizabeth walked the entire way to the Raj Bhavan waving her hands covered with white gloves. All that was 61 years ago.

An elderly woman from South Kolkata remembered the time like the picture. Chuni Goswami’s wife Basanti had just passed her higher secondary. Still not married. However, the day before Rani arrived, she came to the race course with her special friend Chuni. The time was the last week of February 1961 or the beginning of March. The race course was decorated with glittering lights to mark the Queen’s visit. Looking at her, Chuni was excitedly talking about her upcoming meeting with Rani at the Raj Bhavan. Chuni was the captain of Mohun Bagan at that time. The Mohun Bagan team then toured East Africa. But for Rani’s event, captain Chuni joined the team after a few days. Three of Calcutta’s all-time sports stars stood side by side among the select guests to meet the Queen and Prince Philip at the Raj Bhavan. Chuni Goswami, Pankaj Roy and Leslie Claudius.

Chuni Goswami with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip in Kolkata. From Anandabazar Archives.

Basanti remembers, Chuni went to the evening event in honor of the Queen at Raj Bhavan in the car of Chuni’s dear friend, the then internationally renowned billiards player Somnath Bandyopadhyay alias Bhatuda. Mohun Bagan and India’s football captain were also worried about what to wear, gardar dhoti, Bengali babu in Punjabi or suit-type sahib. At the end, Bhatudai suggested, you should wear a turban instead and dress up as an Indian Maharaja! In the end, one of the best football stars of India did not go that far. However, he borrowed a prince’s coat from Vatuda and visited Rani in Szeguje. Chuni wrote in his memoirs that he had to shake hands with Quinn, introducing himself as a footballer. And then in front of the queen, many of the foreigners in this country laughed at the case of an actor. That film star was introducing his qualities in detail by saying ‘I am an actor, director, producer’ etc. Then Prince Philip jokingly asks, ‘What else are you?’

After the then East Pakistan tour, Queen Elizabeth came to Calcutta for the third time. Se-Yatra The operation of Durgapur Steel Factory in collaboration with Britain was also shown to the Queen as a reminder of the progress of this country. Later, the name of Durgapur Steel Plant guest house became Ranikuthi. Elizabeth also visited an ‘Indian Agricultural Exhibition’ in Calcutta. And spend some time at the racecourse at the Royal Calcutta Turf Club. 85-year-old Madhav Chattopadhyay, a resident of College Street, stood in the throng of Dharmatala for three hours to catch a glimpse of Rani. The image of Queen Elizabeth wearing white gloves and hat at various events in Kolkata or on the streets of the city still catches the eye of a few elders.

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The article is in Bengali

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