When Gandhi’s wedding gift to Queen Elizabeth II was termed ‘indelicate’

Admit it! Choosing a wedding gift is often a difficult task. Giving something unusual and unique which will be remembered years down the lane is what we think every time when it comes to buying a gift for a wedding. And it seems Mahatma Gandhi experienced a similar situation during Queen Elizabeth and Duke of Edinburg’s wedding. Princess Elizabeth married Prince Philip on November 20, 1947. The ceremony was relatively an unstated affair as it was held during World War II post recovery years. The royal couple received over 2,500 gifts that showcased notable examples of regional and skilled craftsmanship, celebrating traditions of the countries sending them as gifts, along with 10,000 telegrams congratulating them. The couple also received 500 cases of tinned pineapples from the Governor of Queensland. The New York Institute of Dress Designers presented 25 dresses as a gift, 20 of the dresses were then gifted to other brides who were getting married at the same time. While the unusual wedding presents include everything from a sewing machine to a vacuum cleaner and a potato peeler to a bath sponge.

In 2017, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip celebrated 71 years of their togetherness. On November 20, 2007, when the royal couple celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary, all their wedding gifts were displayed at the ‘Royal Wedding’ exhibition organised by the National Archive. The gifts received from India includes an ivory table from the Maharaja of Patiala and a hand-spun shawl yarn personally by Mahatma Gandhi, containing a motif ‘Jai Hind’ meaning ‘Victory of India’, which the royal incorrectly describes as ‘Jai Hind, Long Live India’.

A wedding gift to Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, of a yarn textile spun by Mahatma Gandhi bearing the motif ‘Jai Hind’.
A wedding gift to Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, of a yarn textile spun by Mahatma Gandhi bearing the motif ‘Jai Hind’.

A piece in The Telegraph by Pamela Hicks, daughter of Lord Mountbatten, unfolds the things happened on the wedding day. She writes her parents met Mahatma Gandhi who told them that he wanted to give Princes Elizabeth a wedding gift but since all his possessions are away he is not able to do so. To which Mountbatten suggested to gift a cloth made from the yarn he had spun which will be like receiving the Crown Jewels. And Mountbatten took the wedding present to Britain. When Queen Mary saw the gift she mistook it for a loincloth of Gandhi and termed it as the most ‘indelicate’ gift. It is said that the gift was never used by the royal couple as they never understood its purpose.

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