Heavy is the Head: the Troublesome Legacy of the Crown

Ava Caudle ’25

Opinion Editor

The British monarchy is more than a lineage: it is an institution rife with strict traditions and standards. Said institution experienced a devastating loss on September 8th with the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, who was England’s longest-reigning monarch. The royal family is a consistent source of intrigue and fascination across the world, even pushing its way into entertainment sources such as Saturday Night Live skits. These lighter-hearted perceptions were temporarily halted as Elizabeth II’s passing led observers to ponder the more serious implications of her legacy, as well as what the entire family represents in the modern age. Some view the monarchy’s omnipresent grip on society in the UK and beyond as a storied tradition, while others deem it a nationalist reminder of an archaic system of power. No matter the lens through which one perceives the monarchy, one cannot deny that despite the late Queen’s famously strategic and collected manner of ruling, her reign in itself symbolized the persistence of colonial ideals in a post-colonial era. The monarchy’s domestic efforts towards charity and development have enacted positive change throughout Britain, but do not apply as effectively abroad due to the remaining repercussions of its actions.

The British Monarchs have long served as a source of support for the exploits of their country. Colonial slavery, for example, was bolstered by the monarchy throughout the course of its existence and perpetuated by individual monarchs. Whether contributing vessels or providing funds, England’s prior rulers have not shied away from both preserving and profiting from the mistreatment of other human beings and their labor. For many as a result, particularly those residing in places formerly controlled by the British colonial empire, each member of the royal family is still a walking reminder of the violent pillaging and exploitation endured by nations still experiencing the aftermath of imperialist plunder. The Queen was no exception, amplified by the fact that, over the course of her reign, she made no point to publicly apologize for the actions of her ancestors. Given the characteristic studiousness of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, one can assume this was a measured choice as opposed to a rushed oversight…after all, a seven-decade rule is plenty of time to craft some form of response to an issue with unwavering consequences. The choice of neutrality over acknowledgment speaks volumes, indicating that the Crown as an entity prioritizes its posterity over progressing alongside the world it exists in. While the royal family is not synonymous with its respective government, the fact remains that its continuation represents a blind eye turned towards historical injustice.

Queen Elizabeth II’s death intersects with the rise of new Prime Minister Liz Truss, already a controversial figure. Now-King Charles III has acknowledged the atrocities committed by former British rulers, signifying an increased consciousness of the potential for reparation from The Royal Family towards its victims. Such tumultuous political conditions in the UK lend themselves to a forward-facing reassessment of what the British government and monarchy hope to accomplish both in tandem and as independent entities. With new figures heading both the throne and the nation’s affairs, it is time for a frank discussion of the status quo: how both sides of British political society have sustained it, which actions keep it stagnant, and what about it needs to change in the coming years under fresh leadership.

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