All looking forward to celebrating the Queens Diamond Jubilee this weekend? All excited? Getting your flags ready?
Do you actually know what you are celebrating? The Queen and the Royal Family are so deeply ingrained into our culture that the public are ‘for’ the Queen by default, without question. This works in the same way as advertising, you are fed positive images with accompanying straplines time and time again and end up loving your ipod unaware of the poverish conditions the ‘dollar a day’ workers were in whilst making your precious mp3 player. You almost cry at the beauty and clarity of a diamond rather than cry at the child labour used to get these stones in dangerous, life-threatening mines.
The Royal Family brand beats Apple and such like hands down. Both in the staggering amount of blind support and in the denial (or ignorance) of the suffering and pain they have caused. They beat the other brands because we are taught about how great the Royal Family is at school, at home and on the BBC. You never hear apposing views, not even a debate..nothing…the Queen is fantastic and that’s that.
Well, here’s a few apposing views from me…
The main one being the British Empire of which the Queen is head. The Empire is not something to be proud of, it’s disgraceful. Britain today owns a lot of it’s wealth from invading other lands and murdering it’s civilians. Because of being blinded by the Royal Family brand, many people today think that the British Empire was not that bad and that the British took over three fifths of the planet in a civilised manner. We’ll kid ourselves into thinking that we ‘helped’ other countries, gave them infrastructures, taught them sports and left them in a better state than which they were found. That’s not quite how it happened. With an unparalleled arrogance, an almighty dose of righteousness and a huge army, the British Empire took whatever it wanted in any way it could.
Caroline Elkins, a professor at Harvard spen 10 years putting together her book Britain’s Gulag: the Brutal End of Empire in Kenya.
Here’s a piece from Guardian writer,George Monbiot
“Elkins reveals that the British detained not 80,000 Kikuyu, as the official histories maintain, but almost the entire population of one and a half million people, in camps and fortified villages. There, thousands were beaten to death or died from malnutrition, typhoid, tuberculosis and dysentery. In some camps almost all the children died.
The inmates were used as slave labour. Above the gates were edifying slogans, such as “Labour and freedom” and “He who helps himself will also be helped”. Loudspeakers broadcast the national anthem and patriotic exhortations. People deemed to have disobeyed the rules were killed in front of the others. The survivors were forced to dig mass graves, which were quickly filled. Unless you have a strong stomach I advise you to skip the next paragraph.
Interrogation under torture was widespread. Many of the men were anally raped, using knives, broken bottles, rifle barrels, snakes and scorpions. A favourite technique was to hold a man upside down, his head in a bucket of water, while sand was rammed into his rectum with a stick. Women were gang-raped by the guards. People were mauled by dogs and electrocuted. The British devised a special tool which they used for first crushing and then ripping off testicles. They used pliers to mutilate women’s breasts. They cut off inmates’ ears and fingers and gouged out their eyes. They dragged people behind Land Rovers until their bodies disintegrated. Men were rolled up in barbed wire and kicked around the compound.”
Now they don’t teach you that in History do they? Imagine…”Good morning class, today we’ll be passing around the tool that our British Empire used to rip off testicles…”
Of course, Kenya was not an isolated episode, this went on everywhere. Britain’s selective memory from it’s own history is shameful.
Ok, I hear you, the British Empire was a long time ago. Well, inviting the King of Bahrain to Buckingham palace last month was not. This is the King whose regime is accused of a catalogue of human rights abuses that continue to this day.
And the Privy Council, heard of that? this is where a body of advisors (usually politicians and archbishops) discuss an ‘act’ then put it the the Queen for approval. This power was used discracefully over the people of the Chagos Islands. Between 1967 and 1973, the entire population was involuntarily removed from the islands to make way for a US Navy base. Unbelievable eh? The Chagosians were British subjects too (not that that should matter) all with British passports. They were first asked to leave then when none of them did pressure was put on them. The Chagos Islanders loved their dogs so British forces slaughtered their pets, very real threats were thrown at the people too all in an attempt to weaken their spirits. Eventually, the only way they could get them to leave was to use force or trick into leaving the island then not letting them back.
Many years later the Chagosians won a court ruling declaring that they should be allowed to return home. In 2004 the Privy council gained approval from the Queen to overturn this court judgement and stop them from returning. If you have not seen it already click here to watch a documentary by John Pilger about the Chagos Islands.
And beside hard facts there’s just a very uncomfortable feeling watching poor people wave flags and go weak at the knees whilst an incredibly rich woman goes by in a gold coach whilst wearing a diamond crown. What are you aspiring to here? Why are you giving the Queen and her family more respect than you would your own? Why would you almost wet yourself if you were honoured enough to catch a glimpse of her majesty. I’ll tell you why, it’s because you’re told to. You’re just where they want you…in your place.