Wednesday, 5 October, 2022

Her visit to Bangladesh

  • Staff Correspondent
  • 10 September, 2022 12:00 AM
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Her visit to Bangladesh

During her reign of 70 years and 214 days, just-late Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II travelled to 117 countries making her probably the best-travelled monarch in history.

She came to Dhaka couple of times. She first visited the city on February 15, 1961, before Bangladesh’s independence, on a royal visit. The then Governor of East Pakistan Azam Khan received her at Tejgaon airport.

At that time of the visit, the Queen stayed at the State Guesthouse Sugandha (now Foreign Service Academy) in Dhaka. During that visit, she enjoyed a river cruise on the Buriganga River.

She waved her hands from the second floor of a launch. People gathered on the river bank to see her clapped in joy and waved their hands back to her. During that tour, she also visited the Adamjee Jute Mill and talked to the ordinary workers.

Later, Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by her husband, Prince Philip, came to Bangladesh on a four-day visit from November 14 to 17 in 1983. This was her only visit to independent Bangladesh.

Upon her arrival in Bangladesh, she was welcomed by then military president Lt Gen Hussain Muhammad Ershad. The Queen and her husband were taken by a motorcade to the State Guest House Sugandha at Ramna where they last stayed in 1961. Colourful posters of Elizabeth II, banners reading “Long live Bangladesh-United Kingdom friendship” and Union Jack flags lined the 18-mile route from the airport.

During her four-day state visit, she paid tribute to the martyrs of the Liberation War at the National Mausoleum.

She also went to Sreepur station in Gazipur by a train on November 16 to see a ‘self-reliant model village’, Bairagirchala, 35 miles south of the capital Dhaka. Bangladesh Railway presented the Queen a wooden plaque with metal relief and a scrolling leaf border.

Then President Ershad also travelled with her. From the station, Her Majesty took a car to the village located at Sreepur upazila. She watched how rice turns into muri (puffed rice), handicrafts, including quilts, wooden works and pottery.

However, on the occasion of the Queen’s visit, huge development works were carried out in the village. The dirt roads were paved overnight. And for the first time, electricity connection was provided to the villagers.

Elizabeth II spoke with local women in a jackfruit garden in the village. During that time, a woman presented her a silver key. While handing over the key, the rural woman told the Queen that she can come to Bairagirchala village anytime and all the doors of the village are always open for her.

The then military government of Bangladesh had spent USD 2 million on giving Dhaka a facelift for the queen’s visit though the World Bank identified Bangladesh the third poorest country of the world back then.

Queen Elizabeth II, the UK’s longest-serving monarch, died at Balmoral Castle, her estate in the Scottish Highlands, at the age of 96 on Thursday.