YOUR EXCELLENCIES SIR JOHN AND LADY THOMSON,
Today I take pleasure to welcome you here in the Mausoleum of the last two kings of the erstwhile Kingdom of Oudh, which once formed the real Hindustan, the land of Rama Sita and Krishna that was Ajodhya or Avadh.
I welcome you as the representative of a great and once the mightiest nation of the world.
I welcome as the survivor and the eldest heir of the eldest branch of His Majesty Wajid Ali Shah, King of Oudh.
I welcome also as an heir and survivor from my grandmother's side of His Imperial Majesty Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Emperor of India.
And finally I take a special pleasure to welcome as the eldest heir and survivor of the legendary Begum Hazrat Mahal and her celebrated son the last King Birjis Qadr, the Queen and eldest son of Wajid Ali Shah.
Although reduced from royalty to our present position we bear no rancour against a gallant foe, who also bore no prejudice against us for giving successful battles on the field and inflicting loss of valuable life and property. We recall with nostalgic memories the magnanimous offer made by the then British Governor General to Begum Hazrat Mahal and King Birjis to return from exile in Nepal and accept a political pension and honours befitting their rank on a basis of parity with Wajid Ali Shah. The offer, though not accepted, showed the greatness of a nation who valued their brave adversaries more than their docile friends. We recall also the encomiums paid to "Hazrat Mahal the Judith of the Sepoy Mutiny" by amongst others Sir W. H. Russel, Col. G.B.Malleson and Sir Jadunath Sarkar amongst a host of fair minded British journalists, writers and historians.
Sir John Thomson, you represent a great people and a great nation. Many European nations had colonialised Asian lands, but the British alone amongst all provided their colony in India liberally and sincerely with education, modern arts and sciences, trade, commerce and industries, a well-knit civil administration and a strong military set up. Your great people inculcated in us Indians the ideas of human liberty, equality, freedom and democracy. We are grateful to your eminent country which provided a model parliamentary and legislative system that has inspired and taught us how to function unitedly in our diverse and vastly varied land.
History is witness to the grace and dignity with which your people bowed out of this country when we requested you to quit, and did not show any determination to keep us forcibly in bondage against our united will. Today we occupy with you and equal status amongst the nations of the world and in our own family of the Commonwealth, thanks again to the magnanimity and wisdom of the nation you have the honour to represent.
The fact that at present the largest contingent of overseas Indians is housed out of the whole world in the United Kingdom, speaks volumes of the extra-ordinarily attractive qualities of your country and its people.
In concluding this address from the heir and survivor of the only two Indian ancient and historical families i.e. Moghul and Oudh that had suffered the most from the rise of British power in India in the last century, we nonetheless welcome you and Lady Thomson to this Mausoleum and the resting place of the last two Kings of Oudh Wajid Ali Shah and Birjis Qadr, and also of the grand daughter of Emperor Bahadur Shah. Because there is no denying the fact that what India is today is largely due to the benevolent British rule that our country had the good fortune to receive for a considerable period of time.
We wish you Lady and Sir John and we wish your country all prosperity and greatness for ever and ever to the end of time.
Dated Friday, January 22, 1982
King of Oudh's Mausoleum, (PRINCE ANJUM QUDER)
Text from the Marble Plaque in the
Sibtainabad Imambara - the Mausoleum of the last two Kings of Oudh
and the grand-daughter of the last Emperor of India
Garden Reach, Calcutta
Click Image to View Plaque Photo