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Tue. Oct 4th, 2022
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NEW DELHI: Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning monarch of Britain who died on September 8 at the age of 96, had unique sartorial choices. Apart from the dress and its colours, hats and bags, there was her love for gloves. She was rarely seen without her gloves. And rarer was her shaking hands with people without her gloves on.
Queen Elizabeth would often wear her gloves while shaking hands with dignitaries, including heads of states. During her lifetime, she met five Indian prime ministers – Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, IK Gujral, Manmohan Singh and Narendra Modi.

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Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in Delhi, during the first day of her visit to India, on November 17, 1983. File photo: AP/PTI

The Queen is seen shaking hands with her gloves on with all the PMs except Modi. In fact, she met Modi twice and on both the occasions she is seen not wearing her trademark gloves.
After the Queen’s death, Modi said in a tweet, “I had memorable meetings with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II during my UK visits in 2015 and 2018. I will never forget her warmth and kindness. During one of the meetings she showed me the handkerchief Mahatma Gandhi gifted her on her wedding. I will always cherish that gesture.”

In contrast, she met Manmohan Singh also twice and she is wearing gloves on both the occasions.

Queen Elizabeth II

Former PM Manmohan Singh with Queen Elizabeth II in April, 2009. File photo

Singh met the queen first in April, 2009 and then again in November the same year.

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Former PM Manmohan Singh with Queen Elizabeth II in November 2019. File photo

Queen Elizabeth’s preference to wear gloves was on display not only while meeting Indian PMs but also in case of American presidents.
Born on April 21, 1926, she was queen of the United Kingdom (UK) from February 6, 1952. In over 70 years as the queen, she met 14 presidents of the United States of America (USA). She is seen without gloves only with Bill Clinton.
In the case of former president Donald Trump and incumbent Joe Biden, she is seen carrying the gloves in her hands.
The White House posted a series of tweets with Queen Elizabeth’s pictures with 13 of the 14 presidents she met. “Across the seven decades of her history-making reign, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II met 14 American presidents. The thoughts and prayers of the Biden-Harris Administration and people all across the U.S. are with the people of the U.K. and the Commonwealth in their grief,” The White House said.

According to the Express, UK, “Whether it’s a standard royal engagement or a formal state banquet, the Queen always wears a pair of gloves for an outing. For occasions where dressing up is required, the Queen often opts for full-length gloves that go past her elbows. For going out and about, the Queen normally wears a shorter black or white pair.”
BBC News said Cornelia James, based in Ripe, near Lewes, East Sussex, first made gloves for the then Princess Elizabeth for her honeymoon in 1947. Her company with the same name was granted a royal warrant in 1979 to make gloves for the queen.
Cornelia’s daughter Genevieve James has taken forward the family legacy after her mother’s death in 1999. The company would make about ten pairs of gloves for the queen every year.
The Express (before the queen’s death) quoted Genevieve, creative director of Cornelia James, as saying that the queen always wore gloves for two key reasons. “The Queen wears gloves because they’ve always been part of her style. The mind’s eye picture of the Queen is the white-gloved hand waving. They’re number one: style. Number two: practical. They’re necessary because if you’re the Queen, you’re shaking a lot of hands, so they protect her hands as well.”
South China Morning Post, in a report published on September 2, said, “Queen Elizabeth likes to wear gloves as she has to shake a lot of hands and they help to prevent the spread of germs, according to Reader’s Digest. She usually favours black or white gloves made from nylon or cotton. However, Princess Diana preferred not to wear gloves when shaking hands.”
The only occasion when Queen Elizabeth would not wear gloves was during the investiture ceremonies when she had to place medals on people awarded honours such as knighthoods and member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. She would also shake hands with the award recipients.
However, Queen Elizabeth wore gloves even during the investiture ceremony in March 2020. It was perhaps due to the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic.
ABC News quoted royal contributor Robert Jobson and said, “This is the first time in my memory, and I’ve been covering the royal family for 30 years, that Her Majesty has worn gloves for an investiture… It is clear that she is acting on advice and her doctors are taking no chances.”
It further said, “She does often wear gloves at royal engagements, but wearing them for an investiture ceremony is very unusual and could be a first.”

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