Queen Elizabeth II passed away on September 9, 2022, at the age of 96. During her 72 years serving the monarchy, she gained supporters and adversaries. Throughout the world, allied nations pay tribute to her time as Queen. For instance, the United States President, Joe Biden, along with the former President, Barack Obama, posted tributes to her. However, her death has also brought forth raised voices against the monarchy.
In the 1960s, the British government established “Operation London Bridge” for the instance of the Queen’s death. The days preceding the funeral are for the nation to mourn. Flags were at half mast, parliament was suspended, and businesses were mostly closed. The funeral was held at Westminster Abbey while the processions took place both in London and Windsor. A committal service was conducted at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. The funeral, along with the processions, were televised for all to watch. Afterward, she was buried at King George VI Memorial Chapel in Windsor alongside her family and husband.
While people unharmed by her actions celebrate her life and mourn her death, many are criticizing her time as Queen of Britain and the Commonwealth. During her reign, colonialism is seen across territories still under British rule. Many from the colonized areas are now reflecting on the damage that the Queen and her family have caused. The former British territories throughout Africa are a prime example of how the Queen suppressed independence movements. A video resurfaced of a Kenyan activist describing the torture done by British troops, from interrogations to death which were all supported by the Queen, and how it took place in Cyprus and Yemen.
The Commonwealth stemmed from the British Empire, but during a speech in 1953, the Queen denied this. “The Commonwealth bears no resemblance to the empires of the past. It is an entirely new conception built on the highest qualities of the spirit of man: friendship, loyalty, and the desire for freedom and peace,” Queen Elizabeth said on the 1953 Christmas Day broadcast. There is some speculation about the Queen’s statement as Gambia withdrew from the Commonwealth for this exact reason, stating it was a “neo-colonial institution.”
After her death, active protests against her and the monarchy were widespread throughout Britain. A young woman at one of these protests in Edinburgh was arrested for her sign against the monarchy outside during the Queen’s memorial service. The Australian parliament held a day of mourning and some citizens saw this as a perfect opportunity to protest the end of the monarchy. A protester named Lizzie Bennet quotes for MSN News, “Once you get around the initial hurt and pain, you realize that of course, Australia is going to follow suit, [but] it’s 2022, why are we still under the Crown?” Indigenous Australians are also speaking up saying that this mourning period is an insult.
The passing of Queen Elizabeth shows people mourning her loss while also criticizing what both she and her empire represented, also considering that many of the countries hit hardest by colonialism are still feeling its effects. While the passing of the Queen means the end of one of the longest eras seen in both British and world history, it also means the beginning of a new era for the United Kingdom. Hopefully one with change and recognition of the years of the monarchies’ abuse.