The ex-head of the erstwhile royal house of Travancore, which ruled south Kerala before India became independent in 1947 and the princely states integrated into the Indian Union, he was struck by the sharp memory and knowledge of the Queen.
Elizabeth II was just seven years old when Uthradom Tirunal first met her in England in 1933. To his surprise, 21 years later, she recognized him and recalled their first acquaintance when they met again in Bangalore.
"She is a person of sharp memory and has great knowledge about India. I met her first in 1933 during my maiden visit to England. It was long before her coronation. She was then Princess Elizabeth. Her father, then Duke of York, was also there when I saw her," he told PTI in Thiruvananthapuram.
She had become the Queen of England when he met her during her Indian tour after the country's independence.
Going down the memory lane, he said, "In 1954, I was invited to a tea party hosted in honor of the Queen in Bangalore. She came with her husband to the party held at the Vidhan Soudha. I was keen to meet the Queen personally."
Uthradom Tirunal became head of the Travancore royal family in 1991 succeeding his elder brother Chithira Tirunal Balarama Varma, the last princely ruler of Travancore.He was all praise for the British administration in India except on a few counts. "I have never felt animosity towards the British. It is just because they had always shown respect and consideration towards Travancore rulers. They wanted some kind of treaty of friendship between us," he said.
"It is a state which contributed kings who had fasted with their people when they suffered in lean times. It is the land which taught rules the lessons of humbleness, compassion, and simplicity. No other place could be like my motherland."
On the recent discovery of priceless treasures in the vaults of Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, the family shrine of Travancore royals, he said, "It has been in the temple vaults for centuries and the royal family has been well aware of that...It is the wealth of Lord Padmanabha and we have never ever felt any interest in it. It should be preserved as God's wealth in future also."