Gandhi’s wedding gift and the Queen’s pet passions

Gandhi sent a crocheted, cotton lace with the words ‘Jai Hind’ at the centre, created from yarn he had personally spun to Queen Elizabeth ll



Wedding picture of Queen Elizabeth ll and Prince Phillips.
Wedding picture of Queen Elizabeth ll and Prince Phillips.

By Prasun Sonwalkar

Published: Sat 1 Jan 2022, 10:28 PM

Last updated: Mon 3 Jan 2022, 2:54 PM

Queen Elizabeth II married Prince Philip in Westminster Abbey on November 20, 1947, weeks after India and Pakistan’s independence. The story goes that Mahatma Gandhi was keen to send the Queen a gift but had given away most of his possessions. It was at the suggestion of Lord Louis Mountbatten, who was the last governor-general of India, that he sent a crocheted, cotton lace with the words ‘Jai Hind’ at the centre, created from yarn he had personally spun. But when it arrived in London in a box, key figures in the royal household were left perplexed and some thought it was “indelicate”.

Pamela Hicks, the daughter of Mountbatten and one of the then princess’ bridesmaids at the wedding, wrote about it in The Daily Telegraph: “Princess Elizabeth had written me a sweet letter asking me to be one of her bridesmaids and I, of course, was honoured to accept. Before we left, my parents saw Mahatma Gandhi (the spiritual leader of the new India) and he told my father: ‘I so wanted to give Princess Elizabeth a present, but I have given all my possessions away.’ My father, however, knew he still had his spinning wheel and he told Gandhi: ‘If a cloth could be made from yarn you have spun, that would be like receiving the Crown Jewels.’ And so this was done and we took his present to Britain for the wedding, but Queen Mary (the Queen’s grandmother) wrongly thought it was a loincloth and that it was a most ‘indelicate’ gift.”

The Queen showed the lace to Prime Minister Narendra Modi during their meeting in Buckingham Palace in April 2018. The lace is among several India-related items in the Royal Collection. In 2017, the Queen hosted a major reception for the UK-India Year of Culture, when a large image of India’s national bird — peacock — was projected on the palace. She has visited the Indian subcontinent several times during her reign.

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Being the head of state is serious business, and Queen Elizabeth II has faced several challenges during her reign, but she is also known to be a sport. She readily agreed to be part of the James Bond spoof during the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics, in which the spymaster (Daniel Craig) is shown approaching her to escort her to the stadium via a helicopter.

An animal lover since childhood, her greatest passions are for horses and dogs. Known in the equestrian world for her keen and highly

knowledgeable interest, she annually attends the Derby at Epsom, one of the classic flat races in Britain, and the Summer Race Meeting at Ascot, which has been a royal occasion since 1911. As an owner and breeder of thoroughbreds, she often visits other race meetings to watch her horses run, and also attends equestrian events. Her horses have won races at Royal Ascot on a number of occasions.

The Queen also enjoys walking in the countryside and spending time with her dogs. Her official biography says that for her 18th birthday, she was given a Corgi named Susan from whom numerous successive dogs were bred. Some Corgis were mated with Dachshunds to create ‘Dorgis’; she has owned Corgis and Dorgis ever since.

A lesser-known interest is Scottish country dancing. Each year, during her stay at Balmoral Castle, the Queen hosts Gillies’ Ball for neighbours, estate and Castle staff and members of the local community. She is also patron of a large number of charity organisations, helping raise large funds every year. She has been portrayed in the media by several actors and artistes


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