Bangladesh mourns Queen Elizabeth, who was ‘touched’ by her ‘memorable’ visits

The British monarch visited Bangladesh on two occasions

Masum BillahStaff
Published : 9 Sept 2022, 03:13 PM
Updated : 9 Sept 2022, 03:13 PM

Deceased British Queen Elizabeth II visited Bangladesh, which was once under British rule, on two occasions during her 70-year reign. Apart from capital Dhaka, the queen was accorded a warm welcome in Chattogram and Gazipur.

The Bangladesh government has declared a three-day state mourning after the world’s oldest and one of the longest-reigning monarchs died at the age of 96 on Thursday.

She visited Dhaka, the provincial capital of then East Pakistan, and the commercial city of Chattogram for the first time in 1961.

Twenty-two years later, when the queen came to independent Bangladesh for the second time in November 1983, the country was under its second spell of military rule, with Gen HM Ershad in power.

Her husband Prince Philip accompanied the queen on both occasions when two military rulers were in power in the then East Pakistan and Bangladesh.

In 1983, during the four-day trip, Queen Elizabeth travelled to the village of Bairagir Chala in Gazipur's Sreepur by train from Dhaka.

Ahead of her visit, Bairagir Chala was turned into a model village. The government spent $500,000 on that conversion, US news agency United Press International reported at the time.

Elizabeth went to the village and saw the making of puffed rice. Handicrafts created by rural women were also displayed to her. She also inspected the activities of the British aid organisation Save the Children in Dhaka.

The Bangladesh government issued several commemorative postage stamps in 1977 to mark the silver jubilee of her accession to the British throne.

After the visit, she went to New Delhi to inaugurate the Commonwealth Summit.

The queen first visited Bangladesh only 14 years after the Indian subcontinent became independent from the British Raj and by the end of the first decade of her reign.

Colourful fireworks lit up the sky in the queen’s honour upon her arrival in Dhaka.

She visited Adamjee Jute Mills in Narayanganj, the world's largest jute mill at that time, which Bangladesh shut down in 2002 due to continuous loss.

The queen and her entourage embarked on a trip by Mary Anderson, a riverboat, on the Buriganga river in Dhaka. Hundreds of people on the banks of the river greeted the queen.

She also visited factories in Chattogram and attended a reception there.

“My husband and I have been most touched by the welcome you have given us since we arrived at Chittagong this morning, particularly because your hearts and minds must be full of the disasters which struck you last October,” the queen said, according to a video of her visit uploaded by the British Film Institute on YouTube.

“I am so glad that the contributions we have been able to make from both government and private sources have been of some help to you.

“This has been a most memorable fortnight. I would like to say how much we have been impressed by all that we have seen during our visit. We have also been able to meet many citizens of every kind in all these places.

“We shall take away with us a rich store of memories of the beauty of Pakistan and the warm friendship of her men and women.”

After her death, British Prime Minister Liz Truss recalled Queen Elizabeth’s exposure to the common people through tours, such as her visits to Bangladesh.

Truss, who was sworn in as prime minister by the queen just two days ago, said: "Throughout her life, she has visited more than 100 countries and she has touched the lives of millions around the world."

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher