Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, died on Thursday at the age of 96 in the Royal Family’s castle in Scotland, according to Buckingham Palace.
The Queen’s son, 73-year-old Prince Charles, will succeedHer title as King. The condolences from world leaders have been offered to her family following her death. including President Joe Biden, who said that the Queen “defined an era” of “unmatched dignity” in the U.K.
For many, particularly in the global West, the Queen’s 70-year reign was marked by stability and diplomacy; under Elizabeth, the Royal Family has taken pains to distance itself from the country’s politics and the monarchy’s long colonial history.
But for millions of people who lived through and still suffer the consequences of the Royal Family’s brutal colonialism and racism both abroad and in the U.K., the Queen’s legacy will live on in the form of the violent and lasting rule that the Royal Family has overseen and still profits from.
Many supporters of the Royal Family argue Queen Elizabeth should be shielded because she distanced herself from the past and tried to make amends for past and present colonies through events such as Commonwealth tours.
Critics rebut this argument, saying that the Royal Family still hasn’t confronted its past or paid reparations to the people who continue to suffer as a result of the British monarchy, decades on from direct colonial rule. The Royal Family has also faced criticism for appearing to attempt to sweep its history under the rug, especially during the Queen’s platinum jubilee this year.
“By design as much as by the accident of her long life, her presence as head of state and head of the Commonwealth, an association of Britain and its former colonies, put a stolid traditionalist front over decades of violent upheaval,” wrote Harvard University history professor Maya Jasanoff for The New York Times. “As such, the queen helped obscure a bloody history of decolonization whose proportions and legacies have yet to be adequately acknowledged.”
For almost as many years as the monarchy has existedIt has been an imperialist and colonialist power, colonizing and exploiting dozens upon thousands of countries and territories, especially in the global South. Many of these countries and territories share the same consequences of poverty and ongoing oppression.
The U.K. has been around for centuries. has funneledIt has made trillions of dollars from its colonies in order to enrich itself and continues to reap the benefits from its racist past, present and future. to this day. The monarchy was built on slavery, which established a slave trade that saw to the transport of millions ofTo other countries, Africans and South and North Americans were sent. The slave trade was so vast, in fact, that it wasn’t until 2015 that the country fully paid off its “debts” to slave owners from freeing slaves in the 19th century.
Elizabeth, whose rule began in 1952, did not, herself, enact these policies — and she did do her small part to step inWhen, for example? former Prime Minister Margaret ThatcherSouth Africa refused to end apartheid.
Others, such as those who suffered under British imperialism while she was on the throne say that she had an impact on modern decision-making. Some historians may say it’s unclear which of the U.K.-imposed horrors that occurred under her rule — like those in places like Kenya and Ireland — were authorized by her. Others argueShe is responsible for these atrocities. Similar, this distance between the Crown and the country’s political decisions often does not hold for victims of Britain’s colonial rule that occurred under Elizabeth.
The symbolism of her rule is not lost on those on the Left, who argue that the throne today is a symbol oppression. whiteness vast wealth inequality in the U.K. — even if mainstream members of the U.K.’s left do not dareSupport its abrogation.
Elizabeth was at least partially responsible for some of these inequalities while she was on throne.
The Royal Family’s record of racism domestically over the past decades does not reflect well upon the Crown, either. These inequalities are perpetuated within Buckingham Palace. royal advisers banned “coloured immigrants or foreigners” from working in the palace until at least the late 1960s, over a decade into Elizabeth’s reign.
The family’s deep-seated racism appears to persist today; in 2020, Duke and Duchess of Sussex Prince Harry and Meghan Markle outright left the Royal Family over racismWithin the family despite protestationsFrom family members such as Prince William.