Photo Blog

The Queen Is Dead



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On September 8th, 2022, Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth realms, passed away at the age of 96 at Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. The announcement of her death was made public at 18:30 BST, sending shockwaves across the globe.

Elizabeth II had been the longest-reigning British monarch, having been on the throne for 70 years. Her death marked the end of an era and a significant moment in history. Her eldest son, Charles III, succeeded her as the new monarch.

As an Australian who spent September traveling through the United States, I was reminded of the ubiquitous presence of the Queen in my life. Growing up, her face graced our currency, and I remember collecting stamps with her likeness on them.

Australian constitutional law dictates that the monarch of the United Kingdom is also the monarch in Australia, constituting a separate Australian monarchy. However, this separation does not negate the complex legacy that the Queen has left for First Nations people in Australia.

As a person from a mixed Indigenous and non-Indigenous family, my feelings towards the monarch are complicated. While older members of my non-Indigenous family celebrated her and were monarchists, for my Indigenous brothers and sisters, she partially represents the personification of British colonization.

During her more than a dozen visits to Australia, starting at a time when Indigenous people were forced to live on missions and on the margins, with few rights, the Queen’s presence was a mixed experience. Her first tour of Australia in 1954 took her to towns across regional Australia, including Shepparton in Victoria, on the lands of the Yorta Yorta people.

As we reflect on the Queen’s reign and her passing, it’s essential to acknowledge the diverse views and complex legacy she leaves behind for Indigenous Australians. While her role in Australia’s constitutional monarchy is a matter of fact, we cannot ignore the ways in which her reign intersected with Indigenous rights and representation.

The passing of the Queen marks the end of an era and a significant moment in history, but it’s vital to remember that her legacy will continue to be debated and discussed, particularly by Indigenous Australians. And from the moment the news broke of Queen Elizabeth II’s passing, the world was captivated by the latest chapter in a centuries-old family drama that has been likened to the longest-running reality show or soap opera on earth.

But I found myself asking why Americans cared so much about the Royal Family? Perhaps it’s because, unlike Britons and Australians who pay taxes to support the monarchy, Americans can dwell on the romantic, escapist aspects of it without any financial burden. Or perhaps it’s because the Queen herself has visited the United States a half-dozen times, taking in sites from Washington to the West Coast, and has met with 13 US presidents over the course of her reign.

For many Americans, the Queen represents a link to a bygone era, a time when Britain and the United States had a special relationship that extended beyond politics and economics. Her passing marks the end of an era not just for the British, but for Americans who have grown up with a fondness for the Queen and her family.

Yet, as with any figure of power and influence, the Queen’s legacy is not without controversy. For Indigenous Australians, her reign is a reminder of the ongoing impacts of British colonization, and her visits to Australia were marred by protests and calls for a republic.

Despite this, there is no denying the impact the Queen has had on the world stage, and the fascination and admiration she has inspired in people across the globe, including Americans who will undoubtedly continue to follow the royal family’s every move in the years to come.

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