Royal wedding and the empire of violence

More than a week ago the whole world came to a standstill as millions were glued to television screens as Prince Harry was tying the knot in what the British imperialist media dubbed the "wedding of the century".

In this piece I want to critically analyse the brutal culture of violence that the British monarchy has perpetrated against the global populace especially from the global south.

The British Empire was held together by violence in two forms. The first one was the military violence that invaded and conquered territories, set up slave plantations and brutally suppressed dissent and revolts.

The second, and perhaps more dangerous form of violence, was the violence of “knowledge” which involved spreading a narrow and ideological system of values, culture and information as if it was the best and only one. Non-European and non-Christian ways of seeing and being were bastardised and destroyed. It is through this violence that Anglo-Saxonism firstly became the dominant European model of civilisation and progress, and later the global model of civilisation and progress.

It also explains how after more than 50 years of independence from Britain, the social, mental and global structures erected across the global south as part of colonial domination are still influential.

Generations of children had to sing “God Save the Queen” in local schools that instilled British and Christian values on young impressionable minds. Within this British educational system, ideas of white superiority and black inferiority, subservience to colonial authority and demonisation of non-European cultures formed part of the structures that upheld the British colonial empire.

This feeds into the global reverence for Britain and her monarchy. While many people have very romantic images of the British monarchy, it is a racist and violent institution that has presided over a reign of global brutality, that far exceeds that of Adolf Hitler and the Butcher of Congo: King Leopold II of Belgium.

Britain dominated the trade and enslavement of Africans and at the height of its empire had colonies across the global, while boasting that the sun will never set on the British empire. They also participated in the genocide of indigenous people in the Americas, Africa and Australia.  

During the Mau Mau uprising against British rule in Kenya, the Kikuyu people were imprisoned in concentration camps and subjected to torture, executions and sexual abuse.  Yet, despite being the most pervasive colonial power, and with perhaps the most colonial crimes against humanity under its belt, Britain is still able to project an aura of respectability, honour and nobility. This allows them to avoid responsibility for their many atrocities.

Across the global south, most countries that were colonised by Britain still maintain membership in the Commonwealth of Nations. Also called the Stolenwealth of Nations, this organisation is headed symbolically by the British queen. Once every four years, athletes from all of these countries participate in the Commonwealth Games, established by the Commonwealth of Nations, and again presided over by the British queen. It is a travesty that most global south leaders see it fit to maintain membership in this colonial organisation, rather than creating an independent global organisation to serve the interests of global south countries and to further decoloniality. It also reminds us that the structures of domination have survived long past the point of political independence more than 50 years ago.

 Perhaps one may ask. How can global south people celebrate the romantic activities of the monarchy when the structures of coloniality are still so much a present part of day to day realities?  Celebrating without considering all of this is tantamount to celebrating colonialism.

The ‘royal’ wedding and the extravagant lifestyles of the monarchic family draw upon ill-gotten gains that have their roots in slavery. The opulent wedding ceremony was also no doubt connected to wealth that came from the subjugation of black and brown bodies during slavery and colonialism.

How many of the diamonds, gold and other precious jewellery that adorn the queen’s crown and the bodies of British nobility were also questionably obtained during this period. How many crimes against humanity sanctioned by the monarchy have to be forgotten to celebrate this wedding.

That the near-white Megan Markle has a mixed mother does not change the relations of empire and privilege that is at the center of the wedding.

In the wedding, the black preacher won widespread acclaim for a sermon about the redemptive power of love. Yet this was part of feelgoodism and illusions of a wedding of empire.

Having a black preacher, a black musician, and a black gospel choir are all emotional trinkets to tug at heartstrings and thus distract people from seeing the relations of empire underneath the fairy-tale “love can conquer” illusion that is the royal wedding.  There is no “redemptive power of love” without first truth and justice.

Will Prince Harry and his bride agitate for reparations and the return of stolen resources? Will they work to repair the damage done by British empire? I think not.

The wedding is also an opportunity for people to rethink the notions of royalty and monarchy. Why are European monarchies who have presided over so many global crimes against humanity viewed with so much esteem and reverence?

The fact that royalty is consistently portrayed in white or near white bodies is psychologically damaging to all people, given the rampant racism and colourism that affects all countries and communities.

Who will stand up and ask the brave question “what makes them royal”? At best, the empire wedding of Harry and Megan is a distraction away from the ongoing global struggles for justice happening across the world.  

What about the Palestinian-Israel conflict which Britain was complicit in starting? It is telling that global media, as well as media in the global south often give more attention to the royal wedding than atrocities happening in Palestine.

What of the illegal invasion of Iraq? Or Britain’s role in the 2011 invasion of Libya and the murder of its leader?  The fairy-tale royal wedding is part of the erasure of the memory of all those atrocities.


Editor's Comment
No one should be spared in COVID-19 fight

However, there are already reported incidents of some outlets flouting COVID-19 regulations issued by government. Government and the public have condemned such actions and further reiterated the fact that entertainment events, which have been deemed as having ‘higher-risk’ of spreading COVID-19, are not allowed.The police have reportedly charged violators a paltry P5,000 each. But these are big businesses that make millions of pula when...

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