When news broke about Queen Elizabeth II passing away, I wasn’t moved to tears or trodden with sadness. I honestly felt nothing. While some grieved, others, surprising to some, cheered. She left a legacy of grace and dignity, sprinkled with healthy doses of turning a blind eye to the suffering of many.
“Tyranny is tyranny no matter what form; the free man will resist if his courage serves.”
— Learned Hand, “The Spirit of Liberty”
Since her death, criticism over the monarch and their role in the colonization of African and Asian countries resurfaced. While many mourn her, the fact remains that many do not — and some may even rejoice in her death.
I find no joy in her death, but mourning? No, no. I find it difficult to mourn someone who chose to stand by for half a century while her former colonies dealt with British colonialism and the aftermath of its withdrawal.
Some say we should mourn her but condemn the monarchy. But the queen and the empire were one and the same, a fact she made apparent by her decision to play figurehead to a colonizing nation. They say her powers were limited and she could only do so much.
Here lies the fallacy.
While it may be true that her power was limited in a political sense, it is not the case in a private sense—at least if we accept the argument that she and the monarchy were not one. If the two are mutually independent, Queen Elizabeth the politician chose to overrule Queen Elizabeth the individual on these heinous matters. Queen Elizabeth the individual kept nice and quiet about things.
The queen and the monarchy either are or are not one and the same, so either way you slice it, blame falls at her feet.
And not just blame for little things.
She kept quiet about the British army’s rounding up of tens of thousands of Kenyans, locking them away in detention camps and systematically torturing them. Many survived and lived on with the emotional and sometimes physical scars left behind. The British government also tried to cover up the incident, with documents eventually resurfacing thanks to some deep digging by researchers and truth-seekers. She may not have done the killing, but she damn well knew about it.
Think of it like this: If I broke into your house, killed your parents, raped and enslaved you and the rest of your family, you would no doubt hate me. But what if instead someone else comes in to torture and kill you, while I stand outside telling passersby that everything is fine. You’re being waterboarded and castrated while I’m waving and smiling at people — fully aware of what’s going on inside.
You would hate me, right? You may even hate me more than the person actually torturing you. At least that individual is being real.
Defenders could say that she didn’t know everything and may not have known about the attack against the Mau Mau in Kenya or the ways Britain played India and Pakistan against each other for political and economic gains, leading to decades of tension and violence between the two countries. Given Britains size and reach, one could easily see how the person in charge doesn’t know everything, right?
I call it horseshit.
If she didn’t know, then she was an ill-informed leader, which makes her a joke in my eyes. I spent a number of years managing various operations and organizations. My philosophy is this: When you’re in charge, everything is your fault. None of this pass-the-buck crap. A leader who cannot take responsibility, makes for a lousy leader.
Yes, she did bring about the end of British rule over most of their colonies. When the British pulled out, however, they left behind messes the countries they impacted are still trying to clean up, all while making speeches of glory and democracy.
I just cannot mourn someone like that.