While the queen was not directly responsible for her governments’ policies, she was nevertheless a willing tool and symbol of the British state which wrought havoc across the world.
I will not pretend otherwise, but the death of Queen Elizabeth II, who passed away in the Scottish castle of Balmoral, had an impact on me as a British Muslim of Iraqi origins. The Queen has been a constant presence in my life since I was born, and I had grown accustomed to her across almost all aspects of my life, including seeing the words “Her Majesty” preceding the various arms of the civil service.
Now, another sun has risen on Britain and its former colonies, and we have King Charles III on the throne – that’s going to take some getting used to.
While I neither mourn nor celebrate the Queen’s death, it is important to understand that, while she was not directly responsible for her governments’ policies over her 70-year reign, she was nevertheless a willing tool and symbol of these establishments who wrought havoc across the world. Aside from other factors, that alone is a compelling enough reason for me to desire to see the British monarchy bidding farewell to public life.
A polished symbol of violence
Growing up in Exeter, in Britain’s scenic and beautiful county of Devon, I actually met the Queen when she came to visit for formal occasions. As a young child, I was taken to see her with the rest of my class in 1995. At the time, having not even reached 10-years-old, I had a vague idea of what a monarch was but without the sophisticated colour that would later be daubed onto the canvas of my mind. She was kind, warm, smiled at me and said hello, causing a child version of myself to smile bashfully back at her.
As an adult, however, and with the veil of childhood innocence lifted (or perhaps even stripped) off me, I came to understand the Queen was actually the head of state. While she may not have enjoyed the unquestioning executive power and authority of her predecessors centuries before, she nonetheless was used by the British establishment to provide a polished, regal and graceful veneer to the numerous crimes it engaged in against countless millions, if not billions, around the globe.
Not long after her coronation in 1952, the British government led by Prime Minister Anthony Eden ordered the invasion of Egypt alongside Israel and France in 1956 because – and how dare they? – the Egyptians under Arab nationalist leader President Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalised the strategic Suez Canal. While the episode was one of the final nails in the coffin of the “Empire on Which the Sun Never Sets”, naturally the Queen raised no objections to this wanton aggression.
She similarly raised no objections when she was asked to knight former Zimbabwean ruler Robert Mugabe in 1994, only to then be asked by a later government to strip him of that honour in 2008, which she dutifully did. She also paid no mind when Tony Blair got in bed with George Bush and invaded Iraq in 2003, and later knighted him in 2021 despite a million people signing a petition to object to this liar of profound proportions being honoured.
Why did she do all this? Simply because people actually have a point when they describe her reign as public service, in that she was largely beholden to the whims and wishes of “her” government, no matter what her personal thoughts on any given matter were.
But does that absolve her of complicity? In my eyes, no. She could have abdicated the throne if she could not square any moral objections she may have had with her constitutional duties. Her decision not to, however, is an indictment in and of itself.
A grotesque establishment
However, and despite all that, I harboured no real ill will toward her. There are many “yes” men and women in most establishments, and perhaps the Queen felt an overriding, perhaps even selfish, duty to her own household, if not her nation, and thought it best to stay in post. Who knows? Perhaps, it’s more accurate to ask, “who cares?”. While criminals like Blair with actual power who decimated Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere still roam free, the personal opinions and inaction of a now-dead figurehead monarch seem insignificant by comparison.
What is still grotesque, however, is the simpering lip service paid to the monarchy by an odious British establishment that swears an almost performative oath of allegiance to the royal household. The royals are seen as a part of their identity, the source of interesting and perhaps titillating gossip revolving around reports of sex scandals and racism, and also a handy tool to beat their opponents with.
For instance, and in a totally insensitive display of the BBC’s fawning over the royals at the expense of the overwhelming majority of the nation, one of the state-funded (and that’s precisely what they are) national broadcaster’s hosts said that the energy bill crisis was “of course, insignificant now” given what was happening with the Queen.
While I can delve into my childhood and remember the Queen who kindly greeted me, and while I most certainly did not wish death upon her or even hate her, my priority will always be with the poor who are now in genuine fear of whether they should be heating their homes or eating.
With such rank insensitivity pervading every aspect of the British establishment, and with one of the grandees of the royal household now having passed on, I feel it is now high time the British monarchy, as an institution packed to the brim with hypocrisy, drop all the royal titles and pay their own way in life.
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