Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth, Queen of the United Kingdom and her husband Prince Philip visited India in 1961. On 19th February 1961, they desired to visit St. Mary’s Church in Fort St. George when they visited Madras. The Indian Government requested my grand-father, Bishop David Chellappa, Bishop of Madras, to arrange this royal visit.

St. Mary’s Church, which lies east of the Suez is the oldest British building in India. It was also known as the Westminster Abbey of the East.

Robert Clive was the first British Governor of the Bengal Presidency and his wedding took place in this church. He laid the foundation stone for the British East India Company’s rule in India.

The whole of Madras wore a festive look that day!!  As our grandfather was going to welcome the Queen and Prince Philip, my grandmother and the children received special permission to be present there, but under strict security. Grandmother along with her children stayed in the place allotted to the family, but somehow my mother (Elizabeth Jeyaraj) managed to stand at the entrance! It is a wonder how the security let her remain there.!!

She stood there quietly as you can see in the picture.  After the Bishop – my grandfather, the Chaplain of the church – a Britisher and his wife, Rev and Mrs. Ian Calvert and a few dignitaries welcomed the Royal couple and took them inside the church, my mother joined her family. The Royal couple were shown the marriage register. They saw the marriage signatures of Robert Clive and his bride!

When my mother joined her family, her sisters and brother frowned at her asking, “How did you manage to go there?”!!

I have posted two pictures, one of my grandfather talking to the Queen, and one of my mother standing silently in close proximity to Her Majesty the Queen.


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