British Pakistanis grieve over the demise of Queen Elizabeth
week before her sad demise, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II sent a message expressing solidarity with the people of Pakistan affected by the devastating floods. “The United Kingdom stands in solidarity with Pakistan as you recover from these terrible events,” she had said.
According to the Office of National Statics (ONS), about 1.8 million Pakistanis are living in the UK. The British Pakistanis have always had an excellent relationship with the late Queen and King Charles III.
British Pakistanis were accorded great respect by the Queen. Several British Pakistanis, for instance, have been appointed as High Sheriff. High Sheriffs represent the Sovereign in their counties in upholding all matters relating to the judiciary and maintaining law and order. High Sherriff’s responsibilities, conferred by the Crown through warrant from the Privy Council, can be summarised as attending royal visits to the county. These British Pakistanis are: Shahid Azeem from Woking Surrey, Dr Rubina Shah from Manchester, Councillor Mohammed Saghir Sheriff of Nottingham, and Platinum Champion Mrs Sarwar Ibrahim.
Rubina Shah was the first female British-Pakistani High Sherriff in the UK. She was the UK’s youngest and first Asian chairman of an NHS Foundation Trust, the youngest deputy lieutenant for Greater Manchester when she was appointed in 2006, and the first Asian woman to be personally selected by the Queen as High Sheriff for Greater Manchester.
“What a proud moment for the Pakistani community at my High Sheriff of Greater Manchester appointment by Her Majesty the Queen. We are acknowledged, and our values are recognised; we are honouring our achievements which is a moment of pride,” Dr Shah had said while talking to Geo News. Dr Shah’s statue was unveiled in St Peter’s Square outside Manchester Central Library. She said, “I feel so incredibly privileged.”
High Sherriff Shahid Azeem arrived in the UK in 1969. The Pakistani entrepreneur became the first male British Pakistani to hold the royally-appointed title of High Sheriff – a direct servant to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
The royal family do not play a direct role in the British political system. The queen and king award medals, honours and prizes on the recommendations of the central and local governments. In this regard, British Pakistanis are proud to have rendered outstanding services in every field. Dozens of British Pakistanis have served as mayors in the country. The mayors are not the direct representative of the Queen, but they are the first citizens in the borough and, as such, are a symbol of authority, a sign of open society, and an expression of social cohesion. They are entirely apolitical for their term of office.
From 1947 to 1956, Pakistan was a self-governing country within the Commonwealth of Nations that shared a monarch with the United Kingdom and the other Dominions of the Commonwealth.
British Pakistanis loved their Queen, who had won their hearts. Throughout her life, the Queen was vital, triumphant and inspirational for all segments of the society and various communities.
The last message from the late Queen was sent to the president of Pakistan on August 29. She said, “I am deeply saddened to hear of the tragic loss of life and destruction caused by the floods across Pakistan. My thoughts are with all those affected and those working in difficult circumstances to support the recovery efforts. As you recover from these terrible events, the United Kingdom stands in solidarity with Pakistan.”
From 1947 to 1956, Pakistan was a self-governing country within the Commonwealth of Nations that shared a monarch with the United Kingdom and the other Dominions of the Commonwealth. The monarch’s constitutional role in Pakistan was delegated to a vice-regal representative, the governor-general of Pakistan.
The Pakistani monarchy was created by the Indian Independence Act 1947, which divided British India into two independent sovereign states of India and Pakistan. Monarchy was abolished on March 23, 1956, when Pakistan became a republic within the Commonwealth with a president as head of state.
Despite being the history’s most widely travelled head of state—she reportedly visited 116 countries during her reign—Elizabeth did not hold a passport. Since all British passports are issued in the Queen’s name, she didn’t need one. She also didn‘t require a driver’s licence. She had two different birthdays. The British monarch was born Elizabeth Alexandra Mary of York on April 21, 1926. However, each Commonwealth country traditionally celebrated the birthday on a designated day in May or June. In the United Kingdom, for instance, it was on the first, second or third Saturday in June. She also drove a military truck during WWII.
Elizabeth paid for her wedding dress with ration coupons. Princess Elizabeth married her third cousin Philip Mountbatten, formerly prince of Greece and Denmark, on November 20, 1947. “Held during the post-war recovery years, their wedding was a relatively understated affair, at least compared to the great union of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in July 1981. With austerity measures still in effect, Elizabeth had to save up ration coupons to purchase the material for her wedding dress.”
Elizabeth’s father, George VI, was born into the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, but during World War I, the family name was changed to Windsor amid anti-German sentiment. Similarly, her husband, Prince Philip, dropped his father’s Germanic surname, Schleswig.
British Pakistanis will always remember Queen Elizabeth II, who worked till her sad demise. Prime Minister Liz Truss was the last official person to pay an official visit to the Queen for her approval.
The writer is a correspondent for Geo News, Daily Jang and The News in London