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‘It was an emotional experience’ - British Tamil is first person to pay respect to Queen

Vanessa Nanthakumaran, a 56-year-old British Tamil, was the first person to pay her respect to the late British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, and has been interviewed by a range of British media outlets.

“It was an emotional experience," she told The Guardian. "I was fighting back tears as I approached the coffin and I managed to dignify myself,” added Nanthakumaran, from Harrow in London.

“I wanted to do something, so I said prayers for the Queen, thanked her for her great service and wished her peace and rest,” she continued.

“I lost my husband in February and (seeing the Queen’s coffin) helped me overcome the bereavement," Ms Nanthakumaran continued. “It is helping me in the process of my husband’s death – it was just sharing this that is helping me as well.”

Speaking with The Guardian, she notes that her great-uncle was knighted by King George VI and was invited to attend the King’s coronation before Sri Lanka’s independence.

Reflecting on Britain’s imperial legacy, she notes:

“Whatever they did for the Commonwealth, we have to appreciate what they did, and for the independence, they eventually gave back when Sri Lanka wanted the rights back […] In that way, we have to be grateful”.

She added,

“I’ve never been faulting the royals at all”.

Read more from the BBC here, The Guardian here, ITV here and the Evening Standard here.

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