“Ding dong! The Witch is dead.” That’s the mood I’m picking up from social media following the death of Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday.
People around the world, especially those in former colonies of England are quick to point out the negative impact colonialism has had on their countries, and the lasting legacy of imperialism.
The counter-argument is one should be respectful of the dead, and not revel in the pain the family must be feeling.
Sure, a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother has died. Sure, a nation has lost its royal figurehead.
But let’s be real here: Ol’ Lizzy presided over the Commonwealth at a time when world wars were raging, independence movements were being put down by her government, “rebel” leaders were killed, revolutionists raped, tortured and murdered, paedophiles in her own family supported and protected, priceless artefacts remained in British custody, all while decolonisation movements were gaining traction around the world.
Belgium’s royal family apologised for the pain and continued legacy its colonisation wrought upon Africa. Plans are being made to return artefacts to the countries from which they were pilfered, but not by Britain. Lizzy had the perfect opportunity to act, to save face, to turn around the negative sentiment around monarchies as one of the most recognised monarchs in the modern age... and yet, she did nothing.
Lizzy stuck to her guns – seemingly oblivious to the blatant racism and privilege her station thrived upon.
She had an opportunity to make reparations. She did not.
She had an opportunity to apologise for the wrongs against Ireland, Africa, India, China, and everywhere else her kingdom’s tendrils penetrated. She did not. And if she did, I certainly missed it.
Hell, the Pope even apologised for sexual abuse perpetrated by ordained ministers. What was stopping Lizzy?
Now, I’ve heard the arguments of people who have said she tried to influence the British government’s stance on apartheid at the time, that she was little more than a figurehead and had no real power. Even in a purely ceremonial position, she had a voice to speak up against all the evils her empire was, and remains guilty of. And yet, she did not.
I’m not glad the Queen is dead, but I won’t mourn her either.
King Charles III has an opportunity now to break up the band, usher in a new era of reform, save face and paint the monarchy out to be doing something in the way of reparations for the horrors it dealt out on the world.
Will he do it? I don’t think so.
At the time, I didn’t understand all the fuss about Lady Di.
Princess Diana was a huge presence in my mom’s life. She was glued to the television at the time of Di’s death. I really couldn’t understand at the time, but have grown to realise she held a position, built a platform, and amplified her voice for positive change.
She used her station to impact positively on the lives of her “subjects”. She led with compassion and grace. Di tried in some way to change the world, reshape the course of history. The same cannot be said of Lizzy.
I will remember Lizzy’s 70 years of rule as time wasted on trivial pursuits instead of meaningful, measurable reparations. Even opening a dialogue about the mess her empire is responsible for might’ve been enough.
Charly, ol’ sport, do what is right.
Give us back the diamonds. Give us back the dignity you robbed us of. Give us back the gold. Give us back our sarcophagi. Charly, ol’ sport, do what is right. Start upon the road to reconciliation.
To the Brits and royalists, I’m sorry for the pain you’re going through.
But I’m shedding no tears for a powerful, rich, influential woman who used none of that power, wealth or influence to change the perception of the monarchy.
That power and wealth was built and supported by the blood of those sacrificed at the altar of independence and freedom.
And until such time as this royal family takes steps to make reparations for that suffering, it displays none of the nobility it is only born into and never lives up to deserving.