Transfer of Power: Difference between India and Hong Kong


Senior Member
Apr 1, 2009
Video of Hong Kong's transfer of power:

When an occupied nation is given "independence" and made "free", it is customary to symbolize this event by ceremonially lowering the flag of the occupying country while that of the occupied country being made "free" is raised.

In the above video, British Flag was lowered and then the Chinese flag was hoisted.

Did the same thing happened during transfer of power in 1947? If we verify our history records to examine what happened in the case of India.


Union Jack(British flag) was not lowered. "It was symbolical that Union Jack was NOT lowered; it flew proudly when the Indian flag was unfurled."

On August 15, 1947, "India's freedom was ushered in with the playing of 'God Save the King' followed by Jana Gana Mana Adhinayaka." ( Manserg.N -Editor-in-Chief-Constitutional Relations between Britain and India: The Transfer of Power (ToP,) XI, pp 107,127,146,156,279;XII, p 731.)

"Nehru toasted the health of the British king and Mountbatten toasted the health of the Dominion government. It was symbolical that the Union Jack was not lowered; it flew proudly when the Indian flag was unfurled." (Alan Campbell-Johnson, Mission with Mountbatten pp 158 and ibid 161)

An article about the event:

The British Tilt

PREPARATIONS for the transfer of power further highlighted continuity rather than change as the underlying theme of the occasion. Much attention was paid to devising rituals and ceremonies that would not hurt British sentiment. August 15 would be observed more as a fond farewell to a trusted friend than the culmination of a struggle for independence from foreign rule.

Jawaharlal Nehru set the tone with a speech commending the Tricolour to the Constituent Assembly as the national flag of India. He spoke at length of world history, but failed to mention the Quit India movement of 1942, the Sepoy mutiny of 1857 or other mileposts in the struggle against the British. Gandhi was not too happy with the replacement of the charkha in the Tricolour with the Ashoka wheel. Though Nehru insisted that the change was nominal, Gandhi feared that the association with the lion in the Ashoka emblem would suggest violence.

Nehru readily accepted Mountbatten's suggestion that no disrespect would be shown to the Union Jack when it was lowered for the last time at dusk on August 14. It would not be replaced immediately by the Tricolour; free India's flag would be raised the following morning. British sentiment would also be respected by ensuring that the Union Jack that had flown over the Lucknow Residency ever since 1857 would be lowered with due honours. The flag represented the victory of the British forces in the mutiny, which some historians describe as a war of independence.

There was no such gesture of remembrance for the sepoys who had given their lives in the mutiny. Nor for the Rani of Jhansi who died fighting the British. Nor for the three sons of Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal Emperor, who were shot in cold blood by a British officer, Capt. Hodson, after they had surrendered. Ironically, the officer continues to be honoured by the Indian regiment that adopted his name, Hodson's Horse.

The current emphasis was on securing power as smoothly as possible. Presumably encouraged by the ease with which he had persuaded the Congress and Muslim League leaders to embrace Dominion status, Mount-batten even tried to persuade the future leaders of India and Pakistan to retain the Union Jack in a corner of their national flags. For once he was unsuccessful. Nehru and Jinnah replied that retaining the British flag would not be acceptable to their people.

But Nehru agreed that after August 15, the governor-general's flag would contain the British royal crest, a crown and lion. This meant that as governor-general of India, Mountbatten would remain in the Viceroy's House flying a flag which continued to symbolise subservience to the crown. No objection was taken to the proposed oath of office for the governor-general which promised that he would be "faithful to His Majesty, his heirs and successors." Then, when asked by Mountbatten whether he could continue to report directly to the King after August 15, Nehru said he had no objection.

Jinnah was less complaisant. Lord Ismay, Mountbatten's chief of staff, complained to him on July 24 that the viceroy was finding it difficult to deal with him. He had been embarrassed by Jinnah's last-minute announcement that he would be governor-general of Pakistan. He had been further embarrassed by reports in the pro-Pakistan press "chortling" over the fact that while India would have a European as governor-general, Pakistan would have one of its own nationals.

The latest embarrassment was Jinnah's refusal to fly the Dominion governor-general's flag, with the royal crest, over his residence. The Pakistan leader replied that he was entitled to fly any flag he liked over his residence. Yet, before Ismay left, Jinnah assured him: "I beg you to assure the viceroy that I am his friend and yours for now and always." As a cousin of King George VI, Mountbatten was brought up in an atmosphere of pomp and ceremony. He enjoyed appearing in naval uniform, complete with medals and decorations. This particularly helped to impress the Indian princes, who liked even more to parade in gold-braided uniforms with rows of decorations. For them, a change in title or new decoration from the King-Emperor was bliss. They were invited to meet the crown representative (he was not viceroy for them) at the Chamber of Princes (now library of Parliament) on July 25.

From all accounts, Mountbatten was in great form for the occasion and persuaded most of the princes to sign the Instrument of Accession to India. He told them that after August 15, he would no longer be able to mediate for them. He warned them that any arms they could procure would be obsolete. That, in the circumstances, the Congress offer of accession in three subjects—defence, foreign affairs and communications—were the best available.

He sweetened the package by assuring the assembled princes that the Indian government would not interfere with them receiving honours and titles from the King, as before. The Maharajas of Jaipur and Bikaner were, in fact, invested with the Grand Cross of the Star of India (GCSI) after the transfer of power.

Mountbatten reported to London that he was surprised by the great store rulers set not only on retaining their existing honorary military ranks and British decorations and being allowed to remain as honorary AsDC to the King, but their greater anxiety that they should not be cut off from receiving future British decorations. Patel had agreed that these "courtesy relations" with the crown could continue.
The British Tilt | Ajit Bhattacharjea

Mountbatten was playing all sides. He had his fingers in all the pies. Indians(including the pakis) were fawning over him and declaring their loyalty to the crown. Mountbatten even tried to have British flag at a corner of the paki and Indian flags.

The whole Transfer of Power in 1947 had an environment of continuity(from the British rule) rather than that of a new free country.
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Senior Member
Jan 17, 2010
At the first glimpse of the subject I thought it was about power transfer from Tsang to Leung after the most recent election in HK :frusty:


Sep 8, 2009
After obtaining Independence we should have built a huge effigy of a British soldier being eaten by a Bengal tiger (in the style of Tipu's Organ) and then burned the effigy. That would have been symbolic. :yey:

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