I’m feeling deeply conflicted about the death of Queen Elizabeth II. Her death raises questions about her legacy, the royal family’s future, and the impact of colonialism under which she ruled.
Here’s how I choose to remember her.
I’ve lived in Canada for the past 12 years. I grew up watching British television and seeing Queen Elizabeth’s face on bank notes.
On the surface, I do not have any significant connection to the British monarchy. Yet when I first saw the announcement, I could not continue my day. I felt as though the world had suddenly darkened, and I could only see grey in the bright blue afternoon sky.
After inexplicably cycling through the five stages of grief, I returned to following broadcasts when I came across criticisms of the Queen for her role in British colonialism and inter-generational trauma.
While I have never experienced the sufferings of many British colonies, I could not help but empathize with those in such situations. Seeing the symbol of the nation that committed countless war crimes be so celebrated is indeed conflicting.
On the one hand, the Queen represents ruthless colonialism from which America learned to manifest destiny. On the other hand, she represents the remarkable spirit of the British people.
A good act does not wash out the bad, nor a bad act the good - George R.R. Martin
The legacy of those who have passed will always be debated. None are incorrect - symbols mean drastically different things to different people. We cannot let someone’s mistakes haunt their legacy, nor can we let their popularity blind us to their actions.
Thus, it’s almost impossible to quantify the good that symbols bring to the world; if there’s one thing we can agree on, it’s that the Queen represented the entire commonwealth.
Queen Elizabeth inspired countless generations (myself included) in a way few others can. As the ultimate symbol of royalty, she was a leader who was rarely spoken of but universally known.
Her job as Queen wasn’t to inspire people to find their passions or make better choices - it was simply to be “there”, to be someone we can count on.
There is no logical reasoning behind royal loyalty - only faith and hope. The effect of her death on the entire commonwealth is a beautiful embodiment of human sentiment.
I’ll choose to remember Queen Elizabeth for her role in guiding the commonwealth through some of its most tumultuous times. As the Queen, she is unreplaceable. She represents the type of symbol we need now, more than ever before.
Long live the Queen.