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A different Ceylon for the Queen

This lush green Indian Ocean island off the southeastern coast of India has changed its name and its Constitution since Queen Elizabeth first visited, 27 years ago.

Monitor contributor Ben Mendis reports that as a result of the constitutional change there was to be no Queen's representative at the head of the welcoming line for her Oct. 21 visit, as there was in 1954. Then, when the island was called Ceylon, she was greeted by the last Crown representative, Lord Soulbury, the governor general.

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The British Raj, which helped make Ceylon tea world famous, is no longer seen on the estates, now state monopolies. About 99 percent of the British planters have left.

Despite the change, the Queen is assured of a warm welcome. Her portrait, and those of her ancestors, will be visible as she tours - underscoring historic British links. The English language is regaining importance. President J. R Jayewardene, moving his country increasingly toward a free-enterprise economy, has regretted the disappearance of British production, administration, and know-how. And in an unusual departure from most former colonies, which normally shun the colonial links, Sri Lanka has named an important new project - the Victoria Damproject - after the Queen's great-great grandmother, Queen Victoria.

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