On Thursday, September 8, Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-serving British monarch died at the age of 96. The Queen passed away at Balmoral Castle, in Scotland, surrounded by her four children, Charles (now King Charles III), Anne (Princess Royal), Prince Edward (Earl of Wessex), and Prince Andrew (Duke of York), as well as their grandchildren and relatives.
The health of the queen, who had been experiencing mobility problems for a long time, worsened following a visit with Boris Johnson at her Scottish residence on Tuesday. The meeting occurred so Johnson could officially accept his resignation as prime minister and Liz Truss could begin the formation of a new government.
The last photograph of the monarch, which emerged after the meeting with the new prime minister, Liz Truss, caused worry among press and locals because of her use of a cane and bruised hands.
After suspending a meeting scheduled for Wednesday afternoon with her private council, the doctors who attended to Elizabeth II were extremely concerned about her health and recommended that she remain under medical supervision. In a statement, Buckingham Palace reported that the monarch, despite everything, was comfortable. Eventually, after receiving visits from her four children, grandchildren, and other relatives, the queen died.
Liz Truss paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth II in Parliament, calling her “one of the greatest leaders the world has ever known” and the “greatest diplomat” of the United Kingdom. “Her words of wisdom, she gave us strength in the most testing times. In the darkest moments of the pandemic she gave us hope we would meet again”, said Truss.
The announcement of the Queen’s death has been received with mixed feelings, especially in countries that were once British colonies. On the one hand, there is respect for her status as a royal monarch, but on the otherhand, Queen Elizabeth is tied to the establishment of the colonial system.
In countries such as Nigeria, Tanzania, and Kenya, her name is linked to a monarchy that, just after her death, has been highlighted as a symbol of unity and continuity. Yet, in many other African countries, the queen’s life connotes colonization and sustained oppression.
For example, South African left-wing parties, such as the Economic Freedom Fighters, recall in a statement that Queen Elizabeth II ascended the throne in 1952 and reigned for 70 years as the head of “an institution built up, sustained, and living off a brutal legacy of dehumanization of millions of people across the world.” The party also expressed that they are not mourning her death, “because to us her death is a reminder of a very tragic period in this country and Africa’s history.”
The situation has escalated further, as BBC News Africa had to urge its audience to be more respectful after posting a tweet celebrating the Queen’s long relationship with the continent. The account was flooded with comments highlighting the negative impact of British colonialism, prompting BBC Africa to manually hide some responses.
Populations in other countries are reacting to the death of the Queen by stating that the monarchy is no longer a necessary institution. According to the latest survey by the Angus Reid Institute published in April 2022, only 26% of Canadians want to keep the monarchy as a form of government following the death of Queen Elizabeth ll. The results also indicated that half of surveyed Canadians believe that the royal family is no longer relevant to them personally.
Tweets by BBC News Africa, September 8.
Nevertheless, for many others, the Queen’s popularity and longevity acted as a unifying force, even as Brexit severed the United Kingdom’s ties with Europe and the ties that bound UK countries to each other have loosened. Although democracy gave her no real power to govern in recent years, she was ahead of her time in championing equality and diversity in the Commonwealth, and by most accounts, she discreetly communicated her views to the successive prime ministers. As she said in a speech on her 21st birthday, “I know that my whole life, long or short, will be devoted to your service and to the great imperial family to which we all belong.”
This week, social media remembers a point Elizabeth II’s grandson, Prince William, made in 2015: “I think I speak for my generation when I say that the example and continuity provided by The Queen are not only highly unusual among leaders, they are also a great source of pride and reassurance.”
As the British and supporters of the monarchy advocate, it is difficult to name a reigning queen of the world who embodies the power that Queen Elizabeth ll maintained. Many believe that no other queen is more influential than Her Majesty, for better or for worse.
Featured Image by: The Associated Press