Sunday November 27, 2022

Queen Elizabeth visited Pakistan in 1961, 1997

Queen visited Karachi, Peshawar, Quetta, Lahore and the northern areas of the country during her February 1-16, 1961 tour.

September 09, 2022
late British Queen, Elizabeth II. —File Photo
late British Queen, Elizabeth II. —File Photo

LAHORE: The late British Queen, Elizabeth II, had toured Pakistan twice in 1961 and 1997, according to the official website of the British Monarchy.

Accompanied by her husband, Prince Philip, the Queen visited Karachi, Peshawar, Quetta, Lahore and the northern areas of the country during her February 1-16, 1961 tour. She was 34 at that time.

In its February 13, 1961 edition, British newspaper The Guardian said that Pakistan had staged a torchlight tattoo and fireworks function, as the Queen and Prince Philip were treated to a full weekend of entertainment.

The British media house had added: “Into the blackness of the huge stadium a set piece of firework display burst into light to open the tattoo: 500 men in white uniforms, each bearing two flaming torches, marched, counter-marched, moved in intricate formations, and built up patterns and shapes so that at one moment the darkness was alight with flaming centipedes and the next with blazing birthday cakes. Lahore has certainly provided a full weekend for the Queen and Prince Philip, and both the Queen’s love for horses and her husband’s interest in polo have been remembered.”

Dawn had written: “When the royal couple landed in Karachi on February 1 at 11:37am, they were greeted at the airport with a warm handshake by the then president, Mohammad Ayub Khan. A 20-minute ceremony followed, beginning with the boom of a 21-gun royal salute. The royal couple were then given a 100-man royal salute. The first day included a visit to the Quaid’s mausoleum, a visit by the Duke to the Korangi Township, and a lavish state banquet by the President. That evening, at the state banquet, the Queen described Pakistan as “one of the powers in the world of Islam”, and “one of the great nations in the Commonwealth.”

The Pakistani media went on: “In Lahore, the Royal couple enjoyed a weekend of festivities as they attended a reception and a service at the Lahore Cathedral; took part in a fair; and visited the tomb of Allama Iqbal, the Lahore Fort, the Shalimar Gardens as well as the Badshahi Mosque. A grand dinner by the army was also held in their honour. Prince Philip was also treated to a game of Polo and the two took part in the national horse show, a nod to the Queen’s love for horses and the Duke’s interest in Polo.”

Remember, during her October 1997 trip to Pakistan, the Queen had used an address to the parliament in Islamabad to call on Pakistan and India to settle their differences. She was driven through the roads of Lahore in this vintage 1984 Black Rolls Royce (LXQ 2200), owned by the Ex-Punjab Governor, Makhdoom Syed Ahmad Mahmood.

Newspaper archives reveal that the British monarch had visited the Faisal Mosque on the same day. In the evening, the Pakistani President had hosted a banquet for the Queen at the Presidency, where she gave a speech in which she had lauded her daughter-in-law Princess Diana’s humanitarian work in Pakistan and expressed her gratitude to Pakistanis for sharing Britain’s grief on the tragic death of Lady Diana.

On October 8, 1997, another eminent British newspaper, The Independent had reported: “Accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, she visited the grand Faisal Mosque and, in keeping with Islamic traditions, she draped a scarf over her head and took off her shoes before entering the white marble building. The royal visit marks the 50th anniversary of Pakistan’s independence from Britain. The Queen will stay in the country for six days -- visiting Karachi and the resort area of Murree, where the British elite went to escape the sweltering summers during British rule -- before heading to India. Today, she will meet Premier Nawaz Sharif and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, an event which has created considerable controversy as relations between the two adversaries are at an all-time low.”

“The Queen next visited Pakistan 36 years later, when Sardar Farooq Leghari was president and Nawaz Sharif was the prime minister, and the country was celebrating 50 years of independence. The couple arrived at Chaklala, Islamabad, where a 21-gun salute was sounded as they emerged from the plane. The Queen and the Duke were received by the then foreign minister, Gohar Ayub Khan. The next day, the Queen visited the National College of Arts in Lahore where she saw the miniature art studio and sculpture studio. The Queen also paid a visit to the Kim’s Gun monument after which the Bishop of Raiwind received her at Christ Church School of Pakistan.”