OPINION: Why I didn’t mourn the queen’s death


Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office

H.M. The Queen at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in London, 18 December 2012.

Queen Elizabeth Windsor II died at Balmoral Castle, U.K Thursday, Sept. 8. As the longest reigning female monarch, she served 70 years on the throne, living through multiple historical events ranging from World War II, where she served as a medical nurse, to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

For better or for worse, she represented her country through many global events and caused quite the controversy throughout her life. Many people, specifically those in the U.K., feel a sense of pride and patriotism as they continue their support and advocacy for the monarchy. The queen’s family legacy has survived the modern age and is not currently in a place to cease its ruling and position. Many British citizens as well as others worldwide have complicated thoughts about an outdated system such as the monarchy continuing in such a modern world. 

As it is, her political and government stance over her nation does not hold as much weight compared to other sovereign powers globally. This begs the question: Should her legacy be praised for her progress or should the end of her tyranny be celebrated? 

When I first heard the news of her passing, I was shocked but not as upset as many of her supporters may have been. As someone who has been raised by South Asian immigrants, I grew up cognizant of the awful history involving British imperialism in India. This long line of British monarchs benefited from the systemic exploitation of my people. Fast forward to when the Queen took the throne, many were still upset with her actions and lack thereof. Reparations were not and are not currently being made to this country. 

The queen was involved in forcing independent colonies from staying within the Commonwealth. As some might have learnt, the famous Kohinoor diamond, which originally belonged to India, was stolen years ago from British rulers. It had been shaved down and tampered with and to this day, worn by the current queen. It is a very significant part of Indian history and has never been brought back to its rightful nation and its people. 

“I initially saw on Twitter that the Royal family was concerned about her health, and as the day progressed, I heard the news of her official passing,” said Georgeena Mathai, a DePaul South Indian sophomore. “I was shocked when the news broke. What was most surprising to me was the fact that my parents were unamused to see me celebrating over this news.” 

There is a wide array of reactions to this news from different generations of Indians. Many younger, first generation South Asian Americans seem to have stronger feelings towards the monarchy as a whole and how this news should not be something to mourn. Many older folks seem to feel a sense of indifference or even sadness at the news of her death. After hearing of her passing, Prime Minister Modi called her, “a stalwart of our times.” Seeing a person of power in a nation that faced such hardships, division and violence from British rule certainly appears contradictory to what many Indians stand for. Regardless of how people responded, it is important to note that India wants to move forward as a democratic nation by dismantling colonized beliefs and values that did not match that of a true Indian nation. 

It is crucial to remember that this monarchy affected many nations by colonizing them and altering their histories forever. The pain and suffering as a result of this reign can be felt globally. These reasons alone are why many who were negatively impacted are celebrating the end of her rule. 

“In a country like India, you continue to see the long-term effects of Britain’s divide and rule politics,” said Kalyani Menon, a DePaul religious studies professor. “The British not only set Hindus against Muslims in the colonial period, but also their scholarship, their narratives and their policies very much exacerbated these divisions and tensions.” 

Unfortunately, the years of harm from colonization cannot be undone. In fact, Indian citizens still argue about the warped idea that these people somehow influenced positive change within Indians and their culture. Shockingly, some put the Indian flag at half mast out of respect for her passing. This truly shows how deep colonization’s effects are felt today. We hope for a future that involves healing and the dismantling of this monarchy and the power it holds over so many. 

“The new king is set to inherit millions from his mother, an inheritance on which he will not pay any tax,” Menon said. “This wealth was built and consolidated through colonialism, slavery and violence, for which there has been no apology and no reparations. Expressing “sorrow” does not even come close to redressing the devastation wrought on people through colonialism and slavery.”