I can only imagine many Britons are still in mourning over the death of Queen Elizabeth II on September 8. But, like many Americans, I don’t really care. While much of the American media still treats the British royal family as iconic figures, the overwhelming majority of us couldn’t care less what they do or say.
The only member of that tribe I liked was the late Princess Diana. I always felt she had more class in her little finger than the entire gang put together. When she and Prince Charles wed in 1981, many Britons had begun questioning the purpose of a royal family. Their political power had officially been stripped decades earlier. They’re figurative leaders, and Elizabeth was considered a “Sovereign Head of State”. But there’s no question the Windsors remain deeply influential. They were among the few European royal families to survive the carnage of World War II.
Regardless of their heritage, I consider Elizabeth and the entire Windsor clan representative of the legacy of colonial repression and European superiority complex. What purpose do they – or any of the other royal families around the globe – truly serve? The Windsors own a multitude of properties in the British Isles and cost local taxpayers billions every year. England is currently in an economic crisis. The Windsors pay some taxes, but – like the wealthiest citizens of most every society on Earth – the actual percentage is questionable and unknown. That’s by design.
If you want to get an idea of what many in the British Commonwealth think about Elizabeth, watch this piece on Jamaican reaction to her death. Like the peoples of many former British colonies, Jamaicans were forced to give their lives to enrich the “Crown”. England, like France and other European powers, slaughtered millions of Indigenous Americans and then snatched millions of Indigenous Africans to replace them. After World War II, the British Empire was compelled to relinquish two of its biggest colonial prizes: Canada and India. The fought bitterly to hold onto the Falkland Islands in 1982, but eventually gave up Hong Kong in 1997.
I have to commend the British for doing something positive overall to make some kind of amends for their activities in many parts of the globe, especially Africa.
Years ago many conservative Americans criticized President Obama and his wife, Michelle, for not bowing or curtsying to Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip. I reminded many that our president doesn’t bow or curtsy to the British monarchy or any royal family. While the U.S. and England are historically and inexorably bonded, the American Revolution was about divorcing ourselves from the power and influence of British royalty. We represent a true democracy – not a monarchial federation.
The world knows what the French and Russians did to their royal families. I don’t suggest the same fate befall the Windsors or any other regal clan. But no one can seem to answer – what purpose do these people serve in a modern world?
I have a tenuous connection to the Windsor clan – emphasis on tenuous. Elizabeth’s father, King George VI, was a chronic smoker. So was my paternal grandfather, Epigmenio De La Garza, who was born in 1893. In February 1952, both George and my grandfather had surgeries to remove part of one lung. Both the surgeons who worked on King George and the ones who worked on my grandfather attended the same medical school. King George died. My grandfather survived and lived for another 17 years.
Fate, like irony, makes for strange outcomes in life.