On Nov. 30th, Barbados will finally depose Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state. This comes 394 years after the first British colony was established in the island nation in 1627. Just as this news was announced, the Queen was revealed to have been recently hospitalized.
The Royal Family has been a topic of conversation more and more lately. Whether it's prestige television about its sweeping award season, issues with claims of racism within the family or even a musical based on the late Princess Diana, the Royal Family is on everyone's minds. Prince Philip recently died last April, and many fear Queen Elizabeth II is next.
It begs the question of how to talk about her role in history.
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It's hard to exaggerate the effect the Royal Family has had on global history. While it may be easier to simply say the horrors and atrocities of the British Empire are out of the current Queen's hands, there's still plenty she was around for and conveniently ignored or actively encouraged.
When Kenya had fought for its independence — an event known as the Mau Mau Rebellion — Britain responded with establishing detention camps. Queen Elizabeth II was the acting ruler during this long conflict lasting from 1952 to 1960. It was within her power to stop the conflict, but she evidently chose not to.
There was also the Troubles in Ireland, in response to British rule over Northern Ireland. From the 1960s to the turn of the century, different paramilitary groups had taken up arms. This conflict had ended with thousands dead, many of which were civilians. Again, the Queen had not intervened, even though she had the power to.
The response to this might be to put blame on other political names like Margaret Thatcher and Winston Churchill, and that's a very good point, but the fact remains that Queen Elizabeth II had endless opportunities to intervene. While she may seem like a sweet old lady, she is much more than that. She is the literal embodiment of centuries of colonization and inhumane regime.
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It's difficult to write her off as a remnant of a different time — her life and actions, or lack thereof, have a real effect on people today. She still wears a crown adorned with stolen gems from Africa and reigns over countless countries.
Even if not specifically Queen Elizabeth II herself, the station of the monarchy is nothing to revere. The Royal Family and its power has colonized countless regions. According to the database on SlaveVoyages.org, an estimated 3 million people had been enslaved under British rule, and the Royal Family still exists to reap the benefits of it.
Anyone inheriting such a mantle, knowing of what those before you had done, should've rejected it entirely. Instead, Queen Elizabeth II has been largely passive in her role in history. Her passivity cannot be seen as a nonaction, she simply didn't speak up when she should've.