Right wing lies again. ‘Freedom of London’ is not Citizenship of the United Kingdom.

Claim

Nehru is taking OATH in Britain as a British citizen to become PM of India ? What a mockery, Congress has done to the Indian citizen & his family continude with GANDHI surname ? Reason India should be “CONGRESS MUKT BHARAT”!


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Explanation

There have been several controversies raised against the Nehru family ever since the Bharat Jodo Yatra began on 7th September 2022. Earlier, when Congress tweeted a picture of a shorts burning, the right wing responded by trending a photo of Former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s photo in shorts with a claim that Nehru took part in RSS camps and events. However, it was found out to be untrue. There were similar misinformation campaigns against Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi also which can be found here, here, here and here.


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What’s the truth?

Freedom of the City of London is a Middle Age tradition still alive today, though it has a totally different meaning today. From the ‘Middle Ages’ i.e from 1237 until the Industrial Revolution period, the status of “free man of London” or “Citizen of London” was meant that a person is not a slave of the Feudal Lord.

 

A freeman essentially had the right to trade and right to avoid tolls in Bridges which enabled them to earn more profit. However, from 1835 the eligibility for the freedom of the City was broadened to include more people who lived, worked or had a strong connection to London. This further broadened to recognize people’s achievements in various fields and has become more honorary than to give actual benefits to the recipient like in the Middle Ages.

Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and New Zealand Prime Minister Sir Sidney Holland received the “Freedom of the City of London” award in 1956 and this has been widely covered by newspapers of the day.

The recipients of the award also include Former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela, Former Prime Ministers of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew and Lee Hsien Loong among many others.

Conclusion

The claim that former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru became citizen of England is false. The award “Freedom of the City of London” is issued by the London City Corporation and not by the British Government. Also, the award is not citizenship to the country and this is merely an honorary award.

Update

We contacted the Chamberlain’s Court in London which issues the Freedom of the city of London award enquiring if we would get the citizenship of the country if we would get the Freedom of the City. We got the following reply:
“To answer simply, no, the Freedom doesn’t give anyone the UK citizenship status. Today it is largely symbolic but historically it was a working document enabling you to carry out your trade within the Medieval City that was London. In other words, it would make you a Citizen of London. We still employ this term today when we admit someone to the Freedom. But being a Freeman (or Citizen) of London doesn’t make you a UK citizen. Saying that Former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had been given the UK citizenship when he was given the Honorary Freedom is therefore inaccurate.”

We also enquired about the Freedom Oath that has to be taken by the recipients of ‘Freedom’. It was confirmed to us that there is an oath that needs to be taken. However, since Queen Elizabeth II died recently, the oath has been updated.

We were told that they are not able to provide the oath which Prime Ministers Nehru and Holland took when they were honoured Freeman of London in 1956. We were asked by the Chamberlain Court to contact London Metropolitan Archives for details about the oath taken by Nehru. We have contacted London Metropolitan Archives and if we get a reply, we would be updating this article.

This honorary award is given by the London City Corporation’s Chamberlain Court and not by the British Government. So the Freedom of the City of London or Citizen of London does not literally mean an actual citizenship. However, an oath taking happens as a mere formality which many have taken including Presidents and Prime Ministers from various countries. Currently, this oath taking is being politicized heavily to insinuate that Prime Minister Nehru was loyal to the Britishers even after India’s Independence, along with a fake narrative that Nehru was given citizenship in United Kingdom through the ‘Citizen of London’ or the ‘Freedom of the city’ honorarium, which has been denied by the Chamberlain Court.

It should be noted that Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was a ferocious freedom fighter and he was in jail for 3259 days in 9 different times which is almost equal to 9 years.

 

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