The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom passed away on Sept. 8, 2022, after an over 70-year reign. However, as decades of the queen’s rule passed by, many Britons did not feel as much attachment to the monarchy as they had before. Beyond Great Britain, many people of former states of the Commonwealth are indifferent to her death because her presence serves as a painful reminder of centuries of British colonialism.
The queen inherited the throne at a time when colonialism and racism were the norms. Under the queen’s reign, the Atlantic slave trade flourished. The United Kingdom repeatedly exploited the resources, people and land of its colonies for its own wealth, most of which affected people of color. Although many former colonies have demanded formal apologies from the royal family specifically, they have only received what they felt were lackluster expressions of sorrow. The queen’s relative silence on this part of history has caused many people to lose hope that the monarchy will move towards a progressive future and shake off its bloody history.
Countless times, we have seen white women in power play into patriarchal and racial standards to hold their respect in a male-dominated field. These are not individual issues; rather, they are systemic issues that require individuals in power to push against them. A woman with as much status as the queen is in the perfect position to catalyze change. I do not believe anyone could have been in a better position to do this. A true feminist lifts others up, in addition to serving as a role model themself.
The British monarchy is supposed to remain politically neutral, and this has served as an excuse for why the queen had not made bolder statements about feminist issues. However, an issue like feminism should not be politically charged. A true feminist of the monarchy would depoliticize feminism showing others why human rights do not need to be defended by a certain party, but rather by humanity as a whole. Meghan Markle, for example, did this when she married into the family, displaying that she was a feminist on her website.
Yet while watching videos of the queen taking the throne at just 25 years old, I couldn’t help but feel in awe at her life as the matriarch of a former patriarchy. While her reign was directly responsible for countless atrocities, she has been the longest reigning female head of state. She was greatly respected by others in power, men and women alike, which is a status that many women struggle against prejudice to attain. There is a part of me that admires the power she had as a woman and wishes it was directed towards better actions.
While the queen was one of the greatest symbols of female strength, the values she stood for ultimately were incompatible with what feminism stands for. It can be difficult to reconcile these two aspects of her reign but goes to show why those who believe she was a feminist icon are mistaken.