Queen Elizabeth's highly sensitive state visit to India ended amid further controversy Saturday with an unseemly public row between British and Indian officials.
And a senior Indian government minister made clear that her country would not welcome any outside mediation in its dispute with Pakistan over Kashmir, even if Britain offered to mediate.What should have been a dignified departure ceremony at Madras airport degenerated into a near farce just minutes before the queen arrived, with a British diplomat and a senior Indian police officer involved in a shouting match over media access.
"I am in charge here," shouted an angry police Deputy Inspector General Nanjit Kumaran when beckoned over by the British air attache.
Tempers had flared when British photographers demanded the same access to the tarmac near the queen's aircraft as was granted to their Indian colleagues. Scuffles broke out, and a female British diplomat was jostled by police.
Among those caught up in the melee was the queen's press secretary, Geoffrey Crawford, who was held up by police and nearly missed the royal flight home.
It was an ill-tempered farewell note to a royal visit that has been overshadowed by diplomatic controversy despite the warm welcome received by the queen whenever security considerations have allowed her into contact with ordinary Indian people.
Crawford, however, said the trip had been "a highly successful and important visit."
He added: "Clearly there were political issues, but that should not detract from the success of the visit on the ground. The queen met a wide range of Indian people at all levels and has received a warm welcome. The visit has been extremely worthwhile.
"The queen came here at the invitation of the Indian people and she thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it."
The queen has spent the past two weeks visiting Pakistan and India to mark the two countries' 50th anniversary of independence from British rule.
The trip quickly ran into trouble when the Pakistani press quoted British Foreign Minister Robin Cook as offering to mediate between India and Pakistan over the disputed region of Kashmir.