Queen Elizabeth II could have been on the throne to witness the dismantling of the empire. However she was additionally monarch for the brutal subjection of the Mau Mau insurrection in Kenya within the fifties, which Britain not too long ago paid out nearly £20 million in compensation to the victims. And he or she was Queen when the federal government supported the Nigerian suppression of the Biafran separatists that led to one million kids ravenous to dying within the late 60s. The facility of the nation and symbolic energy of the monarch have been inseparable from the empire.
My paternal grandmother was born in colonial Jamaica in 1914 and was raised on the fairy tales of the Mom Nation and the Aristocracy of British royalty. She migrated to Britain looking for higher alternatives within the mid 50s as a part of the so known as Windrush era, who helped to rebuild the nation after the Second World Warfare. An image of the Queen had satisfaction of place in her entrance room and had been she alive as we speak, she would have wholeheartedly joined within the collective grief. However my father grew up within the Nineteen Sixties, going through the chilly realities of British racism and will by no means really feel any heat to both the nation or its determine head. When he was 13, he adopted my grandmother to the U.Ok. It wasn’t the warmest of welcomes. He needed to share a small row home with 4 different households who every occupied one of many rooms. This sort of overcrowding was commonplace as Black folks had been compelled into the inner-cities and denied first rate housing. He witnessed and skilled a lot police brutality and harassment that he finally grew to become a public defender to supply some authorized safety to these caught up within the system. Previous to this he was an integral a part of the British Black Power motion, protesting and organizing Black-led training, housing and recommendation initiatives to assist Black communities survive our harsh realities.
For my dad and mom, the Queen got here to represent the racist ills of the nation. Their era was hounded within the streets by fascists who would shout racial slurs and inflict violent assaults in the event that they caught up with them. It’s no coincidence that these fascists bathed themselves within the British flag and pledged unflinching allegiance to the Queen. To today if a pub is flying a British flag outdoors, I can’t go inside. Suffice it to say, I can’t even think about my father, who moved again to Jamaica when he retired, proudly owning an image of the Queen—apart from for the sake of parody.
At the same time as a baby, I felt instinctively uncomfortable once we had been compelled to sing the nationwide anthem “God Save the Queen” in class; I refuse to face after I hear it now. The way in which the royal household handled Prince Harry and Meghan Markle solely compounded these emotions. The one time Markle resonated with many Black Britons is when she informed of the pain that the racism of being within the household precipitated. No one however Oprah was stunned to be taught there have been worries within the household about how darkish their child can be. It was not too long ago revealed that till a minimum of the late 60s, Buckingham Palace banned Black and brown folks from being employed there as office workers. It’s not clear how lengthy the ban remained in place as a result of the Queen remained exempt from race and gender equality laws for her complete life.
So that’s the reason it shouldn’t come as a shock the Queen was not a determine that the entire nation rallied round. I reside in an space of Birmingham, the second largest metropolis in England, which was marked by White flight as soon as Black and Brown folks started to maneuver in, very like the U.S. In the course of the Platinum Jubilee, to rejoice seventy years of her reign, my neighborhood was an oasis, utterly indifferent from the road events and limitless bunting that my buddies in Whiter neighborhoods needed to endure. I distinctly keep in mind seeing extra flags in solidarity with Palestine than British ones on show in the course of the celebrations of the Queen’s reign.
Not too long ago, we celebrated the so-called Commonwealth Video games, which is actually a bootleg Olympics. However the Commonwealth is just a rebrand; the sporting occasion was initially known as the British Empire Video games. It’s a assortment of former colonies headed up by the royal household whose principal goal seems to be to spice up Britain’s shallowness after the top of empire. Till not too long ago, the Queen presided over the video games, decked out in her jewels stolen from varied colonies, the pinnacle of an (nearly) completely White household, who parades within the spoils of colonialism and guidelines over huge empire (or what’s left of the Commonwealth). The royal household stays so widespread as a result of it is likely one of the remaining remnants of when Britain was ‘nice,’ a dwelling, respiration piece of colonial nostalgia for the nation to take pleasure in.
The Queen was cherished as a monarch as a result of she didn’t rock the boat, and there have already been fears about Charles meddling too much in politics as King. The one sensible distinction her dying will make to lots of our lives is that the image on the cash and the stamps will change. Abolishing the monarchy is lengthy overdue. Now is likely to be a chance as a result of the Queen was so widespread, and the Commonwealth international locations are positively not all eager on Charles. And now, as Caribbean nations are renewing their demand for Britain to pay reparations for slavery, it seems to be just like the monarch can be eliminated as head of state extra shortly within the former colonies. That can hopefully have a knock-on impact in Britain.
So, the vast majority of the nation is mourning the image, not the lady, and that is exactly why so many people will spend the subsequent a number of weeks in a state of Du Bois’s double-consciousness—as soon as once more feeling alienated from Britain due to our experiences of being Black.