Why I boycotted the queen | Racism


Expensive Royal Household,

I used to be a decrease sixth (12 months 12) pupil at Prince Edward Faculty in Harare, Zimbabwe, when Queen Elizabeth II visited our college in October 1991. Zimbabwe was internet hosting that 12 months’s Commonwealth Heads of Authorities Assembly and the queen — as the top of the Commonwealth — was attending.

In preparation for the “huge day” on the faculty, our headmaster, a stern and imposing disciplinarian named Clive Barnes, made certain the varsity amenities have been pristine and college students learnt to sing, God Save the Queen, the British nationwide anthem.

I regarded the latter as an particularly condescending and redundant train. If she needed to go to our college and sing with us, I believed, why didn’t “Her Majesty” be taught to recite our nationwide anthem — Ishe Komborera Africa?

Our college had been established as Salisbury Grammar in 1898, through the early days of colonisation. Nonetheless, its identify was modified to Prince Edward Faculty after the then-prince of Wales visited in 1925. That will clarify why our college was included on the queen’s itinerary, and the way the go to descended right into a deplorably pretentious and quintessentially British affair that didn’t signify the broader Zimbabwe.

So, when the day arrived, I made a decision to boycott the queen.

I stayed at residence to specific my revulsion and indignation in direction of all the pieces — centuries of British-funded slavery and shameless colonialism — which the royal household represented. To be clear, I treasured the multicultural society that I lived in. I appreciated that Prince Edward was a multiracial authorities faculty.

Nonetheless, I drew a line within the sand when it got here to fawning over the queen of England or British royals, generally. I didn’t hate the queen, or the duke of Edinburgh who had accompanied her, however I abhorred the outdated establishment she represented. And I didn’t imagine she may relate to our lengthy and arduous struggles in opposition to white supremacist rule.

I believed she didn’t wish to.

She hadn’t tried to atone for the centuries-long repression that facilitated her appreciable wealth and white privilege. I hadn’t seen unusual Britons performing our nationwide anthem or standing in awe of an African queen or king, as we have been anticipated to do in Queen Elizabeth’s presence. So I couldn’t muster the ethical proclivity to satisfy her.

I knew {that a} 17-year-old’s symbolic gesture wouldn’t change something. But I used to be decided to comply with my conscience and take a defiant stand in opposition to the queen and the royal household.

I stayed at residence and don’t remorse that call.

At the moment, I’ve relations who stay impoverished due to the UK’s colonial exploits. Like many in Africa, the mineral and agricultural wealth emanating from our ancestral lands and poorly remunerated labour enriched the royal household and enabled the UK’s industrialisation, leaving us extremely poor and disenfranchised.

I’ve at all times felt the royal household and the UK ought to supply an unqualified apology and compensation for slavery and colonisation.

I’ve learn that Queen Elizabeth II purportedly supported the Black Lives Matter motion. King Charles III, as prince final November, described slavery as appalling. I do know that the UK handed the Slavery Abolition Act nearly two centuries in the past. But the royal household has remained unable, however extra possible unwilling, to apologise for slavery and lead the marketing campaign for reparations.

I discover it disgusting and embarrassing that Queen Elizabeth’s estimated $500m fortune was established on stealing foreign lands, destroying livelihoods, repressing Africans and promoting slaves. I discover it abhorrent that the royal household is, for all intents and functions, a thriving $28bn business empire.

It’s a disgrace that individuals exterior of the UK, particularly in former British colonies, even have the time to indulge the royal household’s colonial enterprise. I couldn’t do it 31 years in the past. I gained’t do it now.

The views expressed on this article are the creator’s personal and don’t essentially mirror Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.

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