The death of Queen Elizabeth II evoked a range of emotions around the globe about her life, legacy, and monarchy. In 1952, over 25% of the world population lived under British imperial control. More than 700 million people, including parts of Africa, Asia, and the Pacific islands.
Her 70-year reign saw Britain’s Empire transform into the Commonwealth of Nations and the decline of the United Kingdom’s global influence. But the scars of colonialism still linger. Many people know of imperial rule’s violence, enslavement, and theft. It is difficult to separate the person from the institution and its past.
NPR’s Moses Ochonu, Vanderbilt University professor of African Studies, said that the death of Queen Elizabeth brought to light “unfinished colonial business.” Ochonu stated that Britain has not fully accounted for its crimes in some ways.
Elizabeth was associated with colonial and decolonized Britain – Ochonu stated that Elizabeth’s memory is complicated by the fact more countries gained independence during her rule. “Her dual status as the symbol of colonialism and the face of colonialism determines how she is perceived in many ex-British African colonies. Ochonu has mixed feelings about the death of Queen Elizabeth II, partly because of his childhood. Born in Nigeria, Ochonu was only a decade after Nigeria saw the end of colonial rule. Many emotions have been expressed about her life, legacy, and monarchy around the globe.
Elizabeth was the symbol of Britain’s refusal to acknowledge colonial crimes
Others find celebrating the Queen’s life hard, partly because they believe she should be held accountable for her country’s actions. “We have to respect her for all her long service, but she is the monarch and cannot be disentangled with the colonization of South Asia,” Mou Banerjee, a professor of South Asian History at the University of Wisconsin Madison, said to NPR.
Banerjee hails from India, which gained independence in 1947 from Britain. Banerjee stated that Elizabeth was crowned five more years later. However, many Indians had hoped the Queen would show remorse for colonialism’s damage.
This was true in 1997, during Queen Elizabeth’s last visit. Then, Elizabeth told Indians that history could not be rewritten, referring to the 1919 massacre at Jallianwala bagh, where hundreds of Indians were killed by British soldiers. These sentiments are being resurrected as many wonders about the fate of the crown jewel of Queen Elizabeth after her death. India had to give the 105-carat Kohinoor Diamond to Britain during colonial times. Many also call for South Africa’s return of the Cullinan Diamond.
Like the Queen’s death, many people are reminded of the insufficient reparations made to ex-colonies.