Contrary views on Elizabeth’s passing

I think when people voice those views, they’re not thinking specifically about Queen Elizabeth. They’re thinking about the British monarchy as an institution and the relationship of the monarchy to systems of oppression.

September 11, 2022

Not everyone grieved over the death on 8 September of Queen Elizabeth II. And while there was genuine interest or fascination on her seven-decade reign as monarch of 32 sovereign states, there emerged a number of contrary views of that period.

“If anyone expects me to express anything but disdain for the monarch who supervised a government that sponsored the genocide that massacred and displaced half my family, and the consequences of which those alive today are still trying to overcome, you can keep wishing upon a star,” Uju Anya, an associate professor of second language acquisition at Carnegie Mellon University, tweeted upon hearing of Elizabeth’s death.

A report on nbcnews.com quoted Anya: “In addition to the colonization on the side of Nigeria, there’s also the human enslavement in the Caribbean… So, there’s a direct lineage that I have to not just people who were colonized, but also people who were enslaved by the British.”

The 46-year-old Anya described herself as “a child of colonization” — whose mother was born in Trinidad, and her father in Nigeria. Her parents met in England in the 1950s as colonial subjects who were sent there for college. They got married also in England, but moved to Nigeria together.

“As the first generation of my family not born in a British colony, I would dance on the graves of every member of the royal family if given the opportunity, especially hers,” Zoé Samudzi, a Zimbabwean American writer and assistant professor of photography at the Rhode Island School of Design, said, also on Twitter.

“The reactions indicate the complicated and mixed relationship that people have had with the British monarchy, people in the Commonwealth and particularly in the Caribbean,” Matthew Smith, professor of history at University College London and director of the Center for the Study of the Legacies of British Slave-ownership, said.

“I think when people voice those views, they’re not thinking specifically about Queen Elizabeth. They’re thinking about the British monarchy as an institution and the relationship of the monarchy to systems of oppression, repression and forced extraction of labor, and particularly African labor, and exploitation of natural resources and forcing systems of control in these places. That’s what they’re often responding to. And that’s a system that exists beyond the person of Queen Elizabeth.”

Perhaps she felt conflicted in her role as the constitutional monarch at crucial chapters in history, when the troubles in Northern Ireland, devolution in the United Kingdom, the decolonization of Africa, and the United Kingdom’s accession to the European Communities and withdrawal from the European Union happened.

But here’s another unsympathetic view of Elizabeth’s passing, this time on Indian Twitter, where the word “Kohinoor” trended.

As it turned out, Kohinoor is a diamond — one of 2,800 stones set in the crown made for Elizabeth’s mother, the Queen Mother, in 1937.

Kohinoor is a 105-carat, oval-shaped gem described in a Time magazine story as “the proverbial jewel in the crown.”

According to the historical account: “When it was mined in what is now modern-day Andhra Pradesh, during the Kakatiyan dynasty of the 12th to 14th centuries, it was believed to have been 793 carats uncut. The earliest record of its possession puts it in the hands of Moguls in the 16th century. Then the Persians seized it, and then the Afghans.

“The Sikh Maharajah, Ranjit Singh, brought it back to India after taking it from Afghan leader Shah Shujah Durrani. It was then acquired by the British during the annexation of Punjab. The East India Company got hold of the stone in the late 1840s, after forcing the 10-year-old Maharajah Dunjeep Singh to surrender his lands.”

One tweet said: “If the King is not going to wear Kohinoor, give it back.”


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