Nicole Aljoewho is Jamaican, saw a series of reactions to Queen Elizabeth II’s death in her family conversations on WhatsApp.
With relatives living in Canada and the UK, Aljoe noticed the elderly were sad and upset by the Queen’s passing and spoke of her with great respect.
“They have a completely different relationship with her,” says Aljoe, a professor of English and African studies at Northeastern University.
Many of Aljoe’s older relatives attended schools in Jamaica or the UK when Queen Elizabeth II was described as the mother of kingdoms, she says, meaning they were part of her family .
Jamaica was one of the dominions of the British monarchy from 1655 until 1962, when it gained independence from the British Empire. The country remained a Commonwealth realm with the British monarch as head of state, represented by an appointed governor-general.
Today, the British monarchy rules over 15 remaining kingdoms, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Belize, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Tuvalu.
The British monarch also chairs the Commonwealth of Nations, a voluntary association of 56 countries, most of which are former British colonies, with a combined population of 2.5 billion people.
Aljoe’s younger parents had a more nuanced, if not downright negative, reaction to Queen Elizabeth II’s death, she says, as they had the opportunity to attend postcolonial studies classes and learned the misdeeds of the British Empire. The younger generation believe the Queen as monarch was somehow responsible for the horrific events in Jamaican history, she says.
Jamaicans have been asking the British Crown for an apology and reparations for decades, written NPRas the empire forced hundreds of thousands of enslaved Africans to toil on the island and cultivate sugar cane under brutal conditions, including rape and murder.
“You could say that the continued devaluation of the Jamaican economy, the fact that it has to depend on tourism is a complete consequence of the fact that it was colonized by the United Kingdom and that certain aspects of its potential economic development n ‘have not been explored,” Aljoe said. said.
Similar sentiments are shared by residents of other former British colonies, for example, in Africa.
The leader of the South African Pan Africanist Congress of Azania party, Mzwanele Nyhontso, said that his party could not sing the praises of a monarchy that organized the transatlantic slave trade that resulted in the genocide of more than 12 million Africans and the forced and illegal extraction of more than 20 million compatriots. Slavery robbed the continent of its labor force and built the Western Hemisphere’s economies instead, Nythontso said.
Northeastern Associate Professor of Cultures, Societies, and Global Studies Richard Wamai says the death of Queen Elizabeth II marks a lost opportunity for the monarch to come to terms with and address the injustices committed in Kenya, her home country.
Princess Elizabeth was staying at Treetops Lodge in Kenya’s Aberdare National Park in February 1952 when her father, King George VI, died, and she learned she had become queen aged 25.
A year later, Wamai’s mother, Immaculate Wangui Wamai, was imprisoned for three years for supporting Mau Mau freedom fighters when they rebelled against white European settlers, the British army and forces local pro-British.
Wamai’s mother was concerned about the oppression and brutality against black Kenyans, he says, which escalated after the British declared a national emergency in 1952.
“She couldn’t stand it and so got involved in the fight for independence,” Wamai says. “She participated actively in the struggle by providing Mau Mau freedom fighters with food, shelter and information.”
In 2013, when the UK announced compensation equivalent to $3,000 for 5,000 elderly Kenyans for the abuse and torture they suffered during the Mau Mau uprising, Wamai’s mother refused as it was beginning to struggled to account for the extent of the suffering she and other Kenyans had endured. had crossed, he said.
Queen Elizabeth II has never apologized for the atrocities that took place under her watch during Kenya’s struggles for independence.
The legacy of colonialism is understood very differently by former colonies than by colonizers, says Pablo Calderon MartinezAssistant Professor of Politics and International Relations at Northeastern University–London.
“What is so impressive about Queen Elizabeth II is that she has always managed to put her youth and the mistakes of her reign behind her,” says Calderon Martinez, noting that many atrocities have been committed across the world. Commonwealth in an attempt to maintain part of the British Empire. presence.
The main goal of the monarchy is to survive, says Calderon Martinez, and Queen Elizabeth II was good at understanding that, stepping into the background when necessary. She has always known how to remain neutral, he says, and in some countries she has even managed to remain a very popular figure.
Since the death of Queen Elizabeth II, many have praised her for reinventing herself and the monarchy as a positive force and common bond between members of the Commonwealth of Nations.
But many Commonwealth members have since matured, says Calderon Martinez, and they may no longer need the monarch or the UK to thrive.
Jamaica announced its plans in March 2022 to become a republic during a royal visit by Prince William and his wife Kate to the country. Antigua and Barbuda reiterated its intention to remove the British monarch as head of state following the Queen’s death. Prime Minister of the Bahamas Phillip Davis said that he would hold a referendum to determine whether the public wished to sever ties with the monarchy.
Republican movements are gaining momentum in developed democracies like Australia, Canada and New Zealand, on par with developing members of the Commonwealth realm.
In Australia, the proposal to become a republic was narrowly rejected in a referendum in 1999, but recent polls show that around 54% of Australians would vote for the removal of the monarch as head of state. australian prime minister Anthony Albanese said at a dinner hosted by the Australian Republican Movement in 2019 that “a modern Australian republic is an idea whose time has come”, although he refuse to publicly discuss the matter just after the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reaffirmed her support for a republic and said his country would become one during his lifetime.
More than half of the Canadian population is ready to leave allegiances to the British crown in the old days.
The UK can’t offer much to other members of the Commonwealth either, says Calderon Martinez.
“It’s a very loose organization that is becoming less and less relevant.”
The Commonwealth is not really an economic partnership, he said, as the European Union is the UK’s biggest trading partner.
“He doesn’t seem to play a big role at international level,” says Calderon Martinez.
Although there has been talk in the UK after Brexit of strengthening the Commonwealth, other Commonwealth countries do not appear to be trying to ensure this, says Calderon Martinez. Some of them probably used their Commonwealth membership to gain some influence in Europe, he says.
So the UK needs the Kingdoms and the Commonwealth of Nations much more than they need the UK
The UK’s influence across the world continues to wane and shrink, and further shrinking of the kingdom is problematic as it has a high reputational cost, says Calderon Martinez.
“It is undeniable that there are much larger major superpowers. China, the United States, Germany, the EU as a whole, even Russia,” says Calderon Martinez. “And in international relations, the only recognized power is that which you can portray.You must show your power.
In her opinion, King Charles III does not have the same reputation, charisma and political capital that his mother had to keep the kingdom and the Commonwealth as they were. It is unclear what world events could become times when King Charles III would shine and show his great statehood in the same way that Queen Elizabeth II managed to do as monarch of a declining empire and in dissolution, says Calderon Martinez.
“These are perhaps the final nail in the coffin of the Commonwealth, an organization that was struggling for relevance anyway. And I don’t see how he will recover, or if the benefit is there for countries other than the UK to continue the Commonwealth,” says Calderon Martinez.
Cynthia McCormick Hibbert contributed reporting for this story.