Watch | When the Queen visited Madras – The Hindu

Chennai News

Did you know that Queen Elizabeth II arrived in Madras decades before her last visit 25 years ago?

Back in February 19th, 1961, thousands of people dotted the city’s roads for 19 miles, from the airport in Meenambakkam to the heart of the city. Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh were given a grand welcome.

Grand would be an understatement. People recall that such a reception had not been accorded in living memory to any visiting foreign dignitary. The Hindu’s report dated February 20, 1961 said the reception was unique both in its magnitude and warmth.

The Queen experienced different facets and flavour of Madras. This included – a long drive through the city to get a glimpse of Marina Beach, Adyar, War Memorial and Fort St George. She also saw performances of Nadhaswaram maestro Karakurichi Arunachalam and dancer-actor Vyjayanthi Mala, Padmini and Ragini apart from numerous folk dances. The Queen also visited the Integrated Coach Factory and was impressed with the modernity.

The Queen’s second visit in 1997  

36 years later, the Queen returned to the city, this time under its new name, Chennai. The Queen was treated with a taste of south Indian art and culture. Her trip included – a visit to Kalakshetra, a 25-minute tour to Ekambaranathar temple in Kancheepuram and a view of the demonstration of silk weaving.

The Queen ticked off another box  – a visit to a Tamil film set. On October 16th, 1997, the Queen also visited the sets of actor Kamal Hassan’s film  Marudhanayagam.

She was seated in a special enclosure and saw the shooting of a scene from this film. According to  The Hindu’s report, G. K. Moopanar, Tamil Maanila Congress founder and Congress veteran, sounded the clap-board for the shot, in the backdrop of a fort. Then Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi performed the “switch-on”.

The Queen exchanged pleasantries with some of the invitees such as actor ‘Sivaji’ Ganesan, Cho Ramaswamy, Amrish Puri and Rajinikanth. Kamal Hassan reminisced of the Queen’s visit to the sets of  Marudhanayagam. He said it was perhaps the only film shoot she attended.

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