Prince Charles has spent the last week travelling across India on royal duty, with engagements in New Delhi and Mumbai. The Royal Family have visited the country frequently over the years for royal engagements, with younger members of the family since taking over the task from the Queen. The Monarch, however, was a firm favourite with the people of India, visiting three times over the years.
It was her inaugural royal visit in 1961, however, that is said to have “broken records”.
The monarchs popularity astounded both the British and Indian officials when flocks of people took to the streets to greet her.
Her popularity with the people of India was shown when a whopping 3.5 million people gathered on the streets of Calcutta to welcome her.
In his book Queen of the World, Robert Hardman writes: “In Calcutta, she was greeted by what was perhaps the largest single crowd that has ever turned out for her.
“Not even her Coronation had drawn the estimated 3.5 million who gathered on the streets of the capital of West Bengal.
“The British press gleefully reported (and no doubt the Foreign Office gleefully noted) this was considerably more than the three million who had turned out for Khrushchev when the Soviet leader visited Calcutta the previous year.”
Meanwhile, in Delhi, the Queen is said to have been shocked by the sheer masses of people who waited at the airfield to greet her.
Hardman continues: “All along the 12-mile route there were vivid scenes of welcome, not least a ‘durbar’ of 800 carts with their oxen and camels draped in Union flags.
“Mounted police had to hold back the crowds at Connaught place.”
The Queen reportedly said: “I have never seen so many people in my life. I became quite worried. I thought they would fall off the trees and roofs.”
However, in this instance, it seems the crowd wasn’t the main thing that impacted the monarch.
“While this was one of the most tumultuous welcome of her entire life, what had made a deep impression on her, she told Nehru [the Indian Prime Minister], was not the crowd, but the deadpan faces of the water buffalo.
Indeed, the Queen was much loved by the nation and proceeded to visit India on two more occasions for royal duty, in both 1983 and 1997.
According to Time Magazine, a series of controversial remarks by Indian Prime Minister I.K. Gujral in which he dubbed Britain “a third-rate” power, is reportedly the reason the Queen has not visited since.
Prince Charles and his wife Camilla have taken on the most recent tour, set to depart on Sunday for New Zealand.
The Prince of Wales celebrated his birthday in India this year, and his hosts made sure to help him celebrate.
He was reportedly given presents from a group of children in Mumbai.
The children were supported in their education by a charitable foundation working in collaboration with Charles’ British Asian Trust.
The children are said to have been “stumped over what to give the future King for his birthday.”
They came up with the idea of a present featuring the stories of Hindu deity Krishna.
It was told with tiny figures in three bonsai gardens.
Charles was also presented with a large chocolate cake, as the youngsters sang Happy Birthday.