The Queen of England, Elizabeth II has died, and it would be insensitive of me not to be moved by it…right?
Her passing has sparked a flood of emotions and opinions that run the gamut from positive to negative. On one hand, a 96-year-old female figurehead who was adored by many and reigned supreme for 70 years is no longer with us. And on the flip side, this is the same lady that ruled a monarchy responsible for the enslavement, subjugation, rape, slaughter and pillage of my people —Black people.
On September 8, Buckingham Palace released a statement letting the public know that Queen Elizabeth II was under the medical supervision of doctors while at her Balmoral Estate in Scotland. Things weren’t looking good for dear "Lilibet," and my first thought which I accredit to growing up in the U.K. colonized country of Jamaica and perhaps having a tinge of Stockholm’s Syndrome, was one of empathy—"Oh no, the Queen!" Then I gathered myself and remembered that Balmoral Estate and all the other estates and castles that the House of Windsor own were built and maintained with the help of the blood, sweat and tears of my ancestors.
Jamaica recently celebrated 60 years of independence from Britain, but one really can’t tell. The country still endures the pangs of England’s reign on our society. Racism and classism amongst many other issues inflicted by the British monarchy are still a thing, and up until the time of her death, Queen Elizabeth II was the "head of state" but did nothing but take from this beautiful island. Jamaicans need visas to enter the U.K., and in my estimation, the royal family has used and associated themselves with Jamaica only when it has been beneficial to them. In the words of Kayne West, the royal family “does not care about Black people.”
Then came the news that she had passed. We’ve had numerous false reports of her death over the years. She was in her 90s and had been slowly reducing the number of engagements that she attended, but less than a week ago, with a cane in hand, she had met with the U.K.’s newest Prime Minister Liz Truss. The Queen seemed to be somewhat immortal and I thought would at least make it to a century, but it wasn’t to be.
“The firm,” as Megan Markle and Prince Harry dubbed the royal handlers in their interview with Oprah, were exquisite in their dissemination of the Queen’s passing. Protocols were followed to a T, with an announcement first going to the global news agency Press Association and the rest of the world’s media simultaneously. Then, as is customary, a footman in mourning clothes pinned a notice of her passing to the gates of Buckingham Palace. Scandal’s Olivia Pope would have been so proud of them.
On a visit to Jamaica earlier this year in honor of the Queen’s 70th Jubilee, Prince William, who was with his wife Kate, stopped short of apologizing for slavery at a state dinner saying “I want to express my profound sorrow. Slavery was abhorrent and it should never have happened.”
I agree William, so what about reparations? Mum’s the word, unfortunately.
Jamaica has announced 12 days of mourning to mark the Queen’s death. I shouldn’t snicker, but I can’t help but be cynical. Why are we doing this? I don’t believe in rejoicing about anyone’s death. Instead, I choose to reflect. So I just might wear black this week but not to mourn "The Queen," instead, it will represent sorrow for our inability to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery and decolonize our thinking. (Also, black won’t be a stretch because it’s kind of my uniform.)
Death is always sad. Elizabeth Windsor was a wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. The human element must allow for some level of empathy for her family’s loss. I feel like I’ve known her my whole life. I kind of have—she is one of the most iconic figures of the 20th and 21st centuries; but in the same breath, I cannot put aside the atrocities that many have been dealt at the hands of the British monarchy. How do I mourn my oppressor?
Prince Charles has now automatically become King. Which means he is now the King of Jamaica. It’s laughable but is also true. For the record the only Kings we recognize here are God, Bob Marley and Beenie Man.