RIP the monarchy

Is it moral to mourn the Queen’s death and celebrate the monarchy, or does it romanticize England’s history of oppression and colonization?

Despite its history, the monarchy is a symbol of unity and comfort for England and should not be abolished.

By Amina Raïss

Long live the monarchy! 

With the recent death of Europe’s longest-serving monarch Queen Elizabeth II, the world has grappled with the complicated legacy of the imperial past of the British monarchy. Tracing its roots to the 10th century, the British monarchy was born from the steady consolidation of power from smaller kingdoms throughout England and Scotland. Throughout the centuries, the British monarchy has transformed from official ruling power to its current form: some official, ceremonial and diplomatic duties. The monarch is also head of the British Armed Forces and the government of the UK is known as “His Majesty’s Government”. The monarchy brings the country together, and in this time of grief, we are seeing the widespread love the Queen has. 

The death of Queen Elizabeth II has set social media ablaze with reflections on the legacy of the Queen and the monarchy in general. While the majority of the comments have been complimentary, some have cast a shadow on an otherwise glowing public image. It is historically accurate to state that much of the wealth held by the monarchy was earned through ill-gotten gains. The British monarchy was enriched through colonialism in Africa, India and many Caribbean nations, oppression of indigenous populations, violence and theft of natural resources. In fact, the jewel that bedazzles the center of the royal crown, the Koh-i-Noor is a 105-carat diamond pillaged from southern India in the 1300s, while the royal scepter showcases the Cullinan diamond, a 3100-carat diamond taken from South Africa. A recent Newsweek article reported the value of both diamonds to be worth $400 million dollars each. These stones only represent a tiny portion of the royally held “crown jewels” and highlight some of the wealth originating from colonial holdings. 

Despite its deep involvement in colonialism, the monarchy, especially under Queen Elizabeth II, enjoys popularity and support among the vast majority of the British population. According to a recent poll from Le Monde, only 27% of Britons believe that the monarchy should be abolished. This is especially poignant with the remarkable outpouring of grief the country is displaying in the wake of the Queen’s death. According to The Washington Post, as of Sept. 20, about 250,000 people have stayed in the queue to pay their last respects to Queen Elizabeth II, who lies in state at Westminster Hall. Many people have been turned away at different times as the line reaches more than 5 miles long. Why would an ordinary citizen stand in a long line for hours to see the Queen’s casket? For loyalty, love, respect and devotion to what the monarchy represents. Indeed, the monarchy has been a unifying force in the country and commonwealth nations. From the time citizens are born, they are taught to love and respect the ruler. Unlike here, where different political parties create a never ending rift. Citizens of all ages and racial and ethnic backgrounds have rallied around the monarchy.  In this, the monarchy plays a very important role in the country.  Can you think of any political figure in our country that would garner lines of people waiting 24 hours to pay their last respects? I can’t. 

The head of the monarchy also provides comfort and solace when the country is facing turmoil. During WWII, many citizens looked to the Queen, lovingly referred to as “mother,” for reassurance and steadfastness. More recently, the Queen gave a speech that encouraged the nation during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. How wonderful to feel that someone is looking out for you, that someone is nurturing and assuring you that things will be okay. 

Additionally, the monarchy represents an important link to the history of the British nation, they are living, breathing reminders of another time. A time of prosperity, ceremony and the expansion of British power abroad. It is a symbol of pride, accomplishment and unity.


Americans’ fascination with the monarchy comes from ignorance of its history and comes from a place of unearned respect.

By Kat Otey

The Queen is dead. We know which one. Queen Elizabeth ll of England, the most prominent English figure (other than Harry Styles) passed away on Sept. 8, causing an explosion of stories, coverage and posts all about her. Media outlets covered her life and legacy, praising her and the British monarchy to seemingly no end. American citizens spoke of her as an elegant, iconic symbolic female leader. And while in England, this praise may make sense, why was it that for quite a few days, I couldn’t turn on the news without seeing the face of a monarch who never ruled me flashing across it?

American coverage of the Queen’s death comes from a place of deep-rooted and unearned respect. As members of a first world country who have not been (recently) negatively affected by British colonialism, Americans can feel obligated to mourn just because many of us haven’t been taught the bad parts of European history. The death of a monarch not our own is important to us because of the way we’ve been taught – through the romanticization of the monarchy.

Despite all the glamor and prestige surrounding systems of the monarchy, they are, in the end, fundamentally undemocratic systems set in place in times of segregation, imperialism and often violence and oppression. The English monarchy held colonies around the world much earlier than the 13 colonies, and that is often forgotten in America because of the way we learn – from textbooks centered around the American Revolution and their triumphant independence. We tend to focus on the golden ages of white society – the Renaissance, the American Revolution, the Industrial Revolution – Eurocentric affairs that blind us to the rest of the world.

The fact of the matter is that royalty should not be respected simply because they are royalty. Becoming the ruler of a nation or institution does not instantly make someone a fundamentally good person. At least with democratic systems, leaders are chosen by popular vote, reflecting what the public believes their capacity for fair and effective ruling is. Within systems of monarchy, rulers are chosen by birth, despite any lack of credentials they may have. And while these leaders may not be directly at fault for some of the decisions of their country, they are still the faces of their institutions and should be held partially responsible, especially if they issue no apologies or stop harmful things from being done.

Going back to the English monarchy, coverage of the Queen’s death in countries outside of North America and Europe show vastly different stories than the ones we’re absorbing by the minute in the US. News stations in places like Kenya, Malaysia, and other more recently colonized nations decimated under English rule run stories more along the lines of the Queen’s ignorance and refusal to apologize for the harm done under her rule, the clear racism she kept in her governmental system until the 1960s, her dismissal of the charges of grooming on her son and her recent usage of taxpayer money to keep lights on in her castles (yes, plural). The difference between these nations and ours is how they are taught – Eurocentric versus global learning.

When faced with criticism, some royal wrongdoings are written off in arguments that colonialism brings more civil life to the places it reaches. These arguments, made by people who grew up learning Eurocentric teachings, are frankly orientalist, whitewashed and offensive. Colonialism does not equal civilizing and to believe as such is to belittle those colonized by corrupt monarchies like the English.

Monarchies do not represent benevolent rulers, tourist hot spots and lavish lifestyles. They represent centuries of suffering, subjugation and shambolic governments. And as for respecting the dead – they’ll earn my respect when they stand for something worth respecting.