Queen Elizabeth Dies, Critics Rejoice!

The reign of Queen Elizabeth II ended on Thursday, Sept. 8, when she said goodbye to her family and died at the age of 96. Buckingham Palace has long been prepared for the queen’s passing. However, it is likely that the palace was not anticipating the range of reactions of many people around the world to the news of Queen Elizabeth’s passing.

As news of the queen’s failing health became public, Twitter erupted. Many people were praying for the queen to recover. There were those, however, like Professor Uju Anya, who chose out of animosity to wish the elderly monarch only the worst. Anya, who is a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, tweeted, “I heard the chief monarch of a thieving raping genocidal empire is finally dying. May her pain be excruciating.” 

More significant than the Twitter divide over news of the queen’s failing health was the divide in commonwealth countries over the queen’s death. Many countries including Canada, New Zealand, Australia, India, Pakistan, and others offered kind words about the queen and noted that her passing would be felt in their countries. 

Some countries, however, had a mixed response to the queen’s passing.

While the South African president mourned the death of his country’s monarch, the opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, issued a heated statement. They said that they did not mourn the death of the queen, concluding their message by saying, “If there is really life and justice after death, may Elizabeth and her ancestors get what they deserve. While this is the only negative statement about the death of Queen Elizabeth made by a party in the Commonwealth, it does help illuminate that there are many people who do not think of glamour and glory when they see the British monarchy, but instead remember the abuse and inhumane conditions thrust upon them by the British Empire. Comedian talk show host Trevor Noah, a native-born South African, called these reactions “reasonable” on The Daily Show, adding that,“You cannot expect the oppressed to mourn the oppressor.” 

The animosity against the British Crown exists despite the fact that the queen had no personal connection to the policies of the British Empire. The monarch’s position as Head of State is purely ceremonial. On Sept. 15, The Daily Show host acknowledged this, but said that she still should have apologized for what her ancestors had done. Noah added that measures to repent should have been taken, such as returning the Cullinan I Diamond, currently part of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom, back to South Africa. 

There are also those who have more nuanced feelings towards the former head of state. Maya Jasanoff of The New York Times argues that the queen herself was impressive, but the British Monarchy cannot escape its dark past and must morph into a more appropriate role for the 21st century.

Despite the many comments made by various people that the monarchy is outdated and needs to change, change has already occurred. According to the LA Times, in 1992 the queen elected to pay taxes for the first time for a British monarch. More recently in order to preserve the integrity of the monarchy, the queen stripped her own son Prince Andrew of royal titles due to his alleged involvement with convicted sex traffiker Jeffery Epstein, something which never would have happened a hundred years ago. 

Now that His Majesty Charles III has ascended the throne, who knows what other changes await the monarchy. Maybe with Charles on the throne, his family can begin to make amends for their past crimes.

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