Although we are a hyper-local newspaper focused on the day-to-day events occurring in our communities, we would feel remiss to not provide some sort of comment on the historically significant passing …
Although we are a hyper-local newspaper focused on the day-to-day events occurring in our communities, we would feel remiss to not provide some sort of comment on the historically significant passing of Queen Elizabeth II — who led the British Royal Family for over 70 years and has been widely praised for her steadying presence through some of the most tumultuous decades of the latter 20th and early 21st centuries.
Although we, as Americans, are not likely to understand the exact perspective of Brits who have lived under Queen Elizabeth’s reign, this does not mean we are incapable of understanding the importance of having figureheads who rise above the minutiae of divisive politics and provide a sort of calming, neutral force that can be so important for a nation’s continued perseverance.
For this, the Queen should be honored. Despite the obvious difficulty of separating politics from a position of at least perceived power, she managed to do so, except for a few rare occasions, such as her disapproval of apartheid in South Africa. The potential for such a figurehead to become disruptive to the political process as a whole through their popular influence is one that cannot be understated, and it is difficult to imagine such a figurehead could exist in today’s politically charged climate without trying to exercise that power for their own benefit or agenda.
However, there is always another side. The Queen, and the Royal Family as a whole, represent something else far less easy to honor, but equally important to recognize — the troubling history and implications of colonial monarchy. For this, critics of Queen Elizabeth and the Royal Family are justified in their contrarian views of her legacy.
Colonial Britain oversaw a vast empire, subjugating millions of people to their rules and customs, and in some cases perpetrating horrible acts against them. While in some cases, such as the colonization of Kenya, the British authorities have admitted fault and paid reparations to survivors, they have kept mum on countless other instances where their desires for expansion of territory and influence have left shockwaves of shattered lives and cultures in their wake.
None of this is the direct fault of Queen Elizabeth, mind you, but she remains inextricably linked to that tradition and shameful history all the same, and it should not be swept under the rug in the wake of her passing.
Perhaps the best way to understand and process the death of England’s longstanding monarch is to view it with healthy perspective — to simultaneously honor the woman who, by all accounts was a loving, empathetic person that could relate to anybody and make them feel cared for, and rebuke the outdated, destructive force of colonialism that she represented.
Perhaps we can move forward understanding that even from a broken system, good leaders and people can emerge. Let us remember the good, and the bad, in order to forge ahead and create a better world.
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