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The Royal Cul-de-sac

The history of the British Royal Family is not easily accessible. Historians of Britain have demanded that various documents, carefully hidden in the Royal Collection of the Windsor Castle, should be made accessible. They are of the opinion that declassification of those documents could have changed the history of the Royal Family in a signifucant manner.

A researcher recently claimed that he had to stop his project midway due to lack of information about the Royal Family. In fact, the researcher planned to pen a book on Prince George (the Duke of Kent George Edward Alexander Edmund; December 20, 1902 – August 25, 1942), the younger brother of King Edward VIII and King George VI. Prince George perished in a plane crash on August 25, 1942, during the Second World War. The Prince, along with 14 others, took off in a Royal Air Force Short Sunderland flying boat W4026 from Invergordon, Ross and Cromarty, to fly to Iceland on non-operational duties. The aircraft crashed on Eagle’s Rock, a hillside near Dunbeath, Caithness, Scotland.

According to a section of historians, many had expressed doubt whether King George VI (Albert Frederick Arthur George; December 14, 1895 – February 6, 1952) would succeed as ruler at all in December 1936, when he ascended the throne. They thought that Queen Mary (of Teck) would perform the Royal duties, and then, Prince George would take over as King. In that case, Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; April 21, 1926 – September 8, 2022) would not become the Queen on February 6, 1952. A historian, who wished to remain anonymous, has stressed that this piece of information has never come out, because no one knows the real history of the Royal Family.

Meanwhile, India and Bangladesh observe the 80th anniversary of the Great Bengal Famine (of 1943) in 2023. The famine had affected the Bengal Presidency (the eastern Indian Province of West Bengal and neighbouring Bangladesh) of British India, resulting in the deaths of around 3.8 million people due to malnutrition and various diseases. Although famines are the result of inadequate food supply, the Great Bengal Famine did not coincide with any significant shortfall in food production. According to noted Indian Economist Amartya Sen, who himself witnessed the famine as a nine-year-old boy, the famine was the result of an entitlement failure. In other words, the distribution of the food supply by the colonial British rulers throughout Bengali society was hindered primarily by economic factors that affected the ability of certain groups of people to purchase food.

The Bengal Famine is widely considered as a dark chapter in the tenure of Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (November 30, 1874 – January 24, 1965) as the Prime Minister of Britain. Although Sir Winston was aware that the situation was deteriorating in Bengal, he forcibly sent sacks of rice from India to the British soldiers fighting in the Second World War. Lord Wavell, the then Viceroy of India, reportedly complained to Prime Minister Churchill in October 1943 that “the vital problems of India are being treated by His Majesty’s Government with neglect, even sometimes with hostility and contempt“. The relative impact of British imperial policies on the death toll of the Great Bengal Famine still remains a matter of controversy among scholars.

Watch: Vijay Prashad, the Director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research, journalist and an editor, lashing out at the West over their colonial mindset

Britain has still not apologised to India for triggering the famine.

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