Let’s Talk About Why People Hate the British Royal Family
Not eveyone wants God to save the Queen.
In the wake of Queen Elizabeth II’s death, there has been sorrow and mourning, but also a great amount of revelry and joy. But what is that joy really rooted in? And what are the larger issues people are really reflecting on?
When Elizabeth ascended the throne, there were still 70 “territories” being controlled by the British Empire. India had only won its independence 5 years before, after the Bengal Famine was aggravated by British apathy.
Most of these lands were brought under British rule in the “Conquest of Africa,” which was the European race to seize control of African lands, people, and resources as quickly as possible, drawing borders where none previously existed, dividing tribes and families, hunting animals to extinction, and stealing precious resources and art that African nations still have not recovered nor been reimbursed for.
Some people claim that Elizabeth didn’t have much to do with it, being that she was only a young woman in her 20s and more of a political figurehead than a leader.
But even as a figurehead, she was vital to portraying the image of England as a colonial power, as shown even in early seasons of The Crown, where she danced with the Ghanaian President in order to ensure the newly independent nation would stay within the commonwealth and not become a socialist or communist nation.
It doesn’t help that during the early years of her reign, the British military was committing atrocities like the Mau Mau Rebellion, where the British interred anywhere between 80,000 and 450,000 people and hanged over 1000 “suspected rebels,” in addition to the Chuka massacre and the Hola massacre.
British colonialism is also very much not a thing of the past, despite the word “colony” being retired in favor of “overseas territories.” Barbados only broke away from Britain and the Commonwealth entirely last year and many Jamaicans were furious at William and Kate’s visit, prompting a letter demanding reparations for 300 years as a slave colony.
Treatment of Diana and Meghan
We may never know all the facts of what happened between the Queen and her daughter- and granddaughter-in-law, but there’s still a lot of evidence that she knew of their struggles and did little to protect, prepare, or defend them from the tabloids and the other family members. A large portion of the news sources concerning the relationship between Elizabeth II and Diana, or Elizabeth II and Meghan, seem to be highly skewed one way or another, and it’s hard to tell where the truth lies. Elizabeth II is reported to have said “Someone must have greased the breaks” when she first learned of Diana’s death but didn’t publicly address it until she, her son Charles, and grandsons Harry and William returned to London for the funeral. Many still think it was in poor taste to wait as long as she did.
We do know that it was only after Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah that the family got a diversity czar and that they were denied a security team after leaving the family, despite obviously still facing a lot of dangers as two former Royals.
Many people also resent the amount of money spent on the Royal Family, who don’t actually seem to do much. While a majority of the money goes to property maintenance, the royals still get paid millions every year, in addition to having their security costs covered (unless they’re Harry and Meghan, of course).
As an American, I know I can’t really talk about billionaires freeloading off of the government, especially since Donald Trump might have made as much as $1.6 billion off of his presidency, but it’s still a situation that should be analyzed carefully. The Crown nowadays is more of a brand than a ruling body, with the Crown Estate not being run by the Royal Family, but still funding their lifestyle. Regardless of the specifics of how the money is generated, the whole thing is fed by Britain’s imperial tendencies abroad, as well as the history of wealth inequality and classism within its own borders, and it’s hard to watch the system continue on ignoring those realities—in any country.
Prince Andrew and his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein was an open secret for years and it was only in January of this year that he was stripped of his position from the Royal Family and only in February that Prince Andrew settled the lawsuit with Virginia Guffrie, who claimed Prince Andrew was one of her abusers when she was trafficked by Epstein and Maxwell. There’s a lot of theories that speculate that the reason he was allowed to stay even this long is because Elizabeth allowed him to do so. At the end of the day, it’s another scandal of which we may never know the full story, but which doesn’t reflect well on the private lives of the Royal Family.
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that Barbados won its independence from Britain in 2021.
(featured image: Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
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