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Former Indian High Commissioner to UK YK Sinha with Queen Elizabeth
Former Indian High Commissioner to UK YK Sinha with Queen Elizabeth

Royal Innings: Former Indian High Commissioner to UK recalls 'cricket chat' with late Queen Elizabeth II

By Heena Joshi | Updated: Sep 19, 2022 15:00 IST

New Delhi [India], September 19 (ANI): As world leaders gather in London to attend Queen Elizabeth's funeral, former Indian High Commissioner to the UK, YK Sinha walked down memory lane as he recalled a brief but unforgettable conversation with the late monarch on cricket.

"I was fortunate to meet Her Majesty the Queen six times during my tenure. The first time I met her was within four days of my arrival, at her annual Christmas reception at Buckingham Palace. We exchanged a very brief conversation and she looked forward to receiving my credentials later," Chief Information Commissioner of India YK Sinha said.

The longest conversation he had with Queen Elizabeth was when he presented his credentials to her as the new High Commissioner to the UK in February 2017. "I will remember that conversation for a lifetime," he said. "I remember it was February 15, 2017. It was one of those ceremonies that you don't forget, and that is why I vividly remember the date of my interactions with her."

"Obviously the Queen had been briefed that I like cricket, and therefore one of the questions she asked me that I will always remember was -- 'Don't you think Joe Root was given out unfairly?' -- I think at that time T20 series was going on in India and the English team had come."

The question was asked "with a twinkle in her eye and with a smile. It was meant to be more like a gesture in the conversation," he said. "I was taken aback because I did not expect Her Majesty to be following cricket so closely. So I quickly recovered my wits, and said 'Your Majesty, perhaps there should be DRS for T20.' I think at that time there was no DRS for T20," and she responded with "a hearty laugh."

Describing the conversation as "remarkable," he recalled that Queen Elizabeth was very alert and well-versed with both domestic and global developments, particularly India and UK relations.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth was someone who had many sides to her personality, he said and added, "One was of course that she was very well briefed. She asked me detailed questions about the Indian diaspora, the living bridge that contributes so much to the bilateral relationship. She knew exactly some of the points she wanted to talk about and the one on cricket was to put me at ease and to have a bit of light conversation on the very solemn occasion of presenting my credentials."

According to him, "She stood out for her warmth, candour, charm and the compassion that she exuded and I noticed that right through my stay there on multiple occasions. It was actually a wonderful experience to see someone that age to be so calm, composed, collected and of course so well informed."

Asked whether some of the Commonwealth countries will accept King Charles III as their head of state, the former envoy noted, "The Commonwealth comprises 56 countries and in many ways, India which was the Jewel in the Crown or the Empire actually paved the way for the new Commonwealth.

"If you recall in 1949 in London, India had set out the terms on how it wanted to be a member of the Commonwealth and yet become a republic, which paved the way for a large number of other Commonwealth member states to seek a similar status. As far as the countries under the monarchy they of course have their own choices to make."

Antigua and Barbuda is planning to move away from King Charles III being the head of state and "I am sure there are other countries who may be thinking on the same lines," the former envoy said. However, he felt it was difficult to say if Queen's demise will accelerate that trend. "I think the people of those countries will have to decide. But the Queen was a figure much admired and a unifying factor in the Commonwealth, especially in those countries that had her as the head of state."

On a separate note, when asked to comment on Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson's remark that the British left behind an entire civilization in India when they left the country, he said: "Mr Carlson obviously has a very poor understanding of the impact of colonial depredations and particularly the British rule of India. All I can do is to ask him to read up on history-- there are so many new books that have come up about the impact of the British colonialism in India."

He refused to elaborate, saying "I do not want to talk about that on this solemn occasion because we are mourning the demise of a great leader and the passing of a figure who is revered in many places and someone who has lived for so long with dedication and commitment towards her country." (ANI)