SWAT: Grief swept through Swat after the death of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday with the local elders recalling her 1961 visit to the region, which was a princely state at that time. Accompanied by her husband, Prince Philip, the queen stayed here for three days.

She got so fascinated by the natural and scenic beauty of Swat that she called the area ‘the Switzerland of the east’.

The local elders, who were schoolchildren at that time, told Dawn that the residents accorded a warm welcome to the royal couple on arrival.

“We [residents] were properly trained for the [Queen Elizabeth II’s] visit and were told to greet her with the yell ‘long live the queen’. So, when she appeared on the road, we did that. The queen responded with waving hands and a smile on her face,” said Mohammad Ismail, an elder of Saidu Sharif, who was a sixth grader in the Government Wadudia High School at that time.

He said the last Wali of Swat, Miangul Abdul Haq Jahanzeb, had invited the local elders, ministers and his family members to her house to welcome Queen Elizabeth.

Before the queen’s arrival, the ruler of Swat summoned the state’s official tailor and asked him to make the Swati cap and a purse for the guest.

“Wali-i-Swat [Miangul Abdul Haq Jahanzeb] summoned my father and asked him to make a Swati cap and a unique purse for the British visitors,” said Malik Aurangzeb, owner of the Swat Cap House, whose father Malik Fazal Karim Jan was the official tailor of the Swat state. He said his father followed the orders and when Queen Elizabeth II showed up at the Wali’s residence, she was presented with an elegant cap and a matching purse from the Swat Cap House.

The local elders said Britain’s queen was received a warm welcome wherever she went during three days visit.

“It was like three days celebrations in Swat. We loved her [queen’s] travel on the roads of Saidu Sharif,” said a 75-year-old woman.

Published in Dawn, September 10th, 2022

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