Is There a Right Reaction to the Queen’s Passing?
It has been less than a week since the news of HM Queen Elizabeth II hit the internet and unsurprisingly responses to it have thronged everyone’s social feeds. From world leaders, straight down to “ordinary folk” who have witnessed the Queen’s reign in any form – everyone has had something to say about what has been justifiably described as the end of an era.
The Queen was the last human link to modern history that has come to describe the hegemonic balance of power in a post-war world and, by extension, in today’s world. That her role has been remarkable- good or bad is up for debate- is undeniable.
The Queen lived through turbulent times- war-time politics, becoming the heir to the throne in an act that shocked the nation and beyond, losing her father to the stress of modern democracy in a post-war era, and taking over the throne at the age of twenty-five. Only a fool would deny that this is not remarkable. Remarkable-good or remarkable-bad is, again, up for debate.
The world is now split into two based on this one event of the Queen’s death- those who are mourning the death of the longest reigning monarch, and those who view her death as an opportunity to highlight the struggles of ex-colonies and how the monarchy was not entirely beneficial for anything.
Those who mourn, view the Queen as a symbol of strength and certainty. Where everything has changed in the past ten years or more, the face of the Queen did not, and in a world ravaged by uncertainty, the constancy of the Queen brought comfort to many. While politicians were messing around with the people’s lives, the Queen was following the rules. The Queen was leading by example.
Those who do not mourn, harbour anti-monarchical sentiments- and justifiably so. Anti-monarchical sentiments have existed since the inception of the Magna Carta and continue today in a world where the monarchy is viewed as irrelevant. These sentiments become even stronger when one thinks about the damage the Empire inflicted upon the non-white world. The legacy of this damage has survived and people have brought out stories of their ancestors who faced the wrath upfront.
So it is not entirely surprising that the world is split into two as I write this. Social media is split into two. Those who are posting stories to say ‘RIP Queen Elizabeth’ and those who are relating the rainbow over Buckingham Palace on the day of the Queen’s death to nature celebrating the end of a colonialist’s life. These two groups are worlds apart.
But can there be a third category of observers who acknowledge that the Queen did indeed live a remarkable life unfortunately set against the backdrop of a terrible history? Can we not pray that she rests in peace while also being mindful that her legacy is not entirely pleasant? Is it terribly wrong to focus on the part of ‘death’ and ‘loss’ instead of the colonial past? Can we not separate the two? The Queen was more than just a monarch. She was a mother, a grandmother, and a great-grandmother. Can we not take a second to appreciate that there is grief in loss and death and that despite history, those affected by her death are human too? Is it so terrible to acknowledge that a family will be grief-stricken by this?