King Charles III: Colonial Rituals in Time of Crisis

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Jen Watkinson, an 11-year-old British child, wrote to the Guardian to complain that her SATs and that of all other year 6 pupils in England were postponed because of the coronation. She asked, “Did anybody consider the thousands of children whose anxiety would worsen with the interruption?”

She went on to also say that the money wasted on the ceremony should have gone to food banks instead.

I thought that short note to be so refreshing in its unfiltered clarity.

It is mind boggling that so many adults don’t understand why spending public funds on a ceremony to celebrate the ascension of a monarch is wasteful and wrong. Watching the whole performance, one would be forgiven for forgetting that it’s May 2023 not May 1423.

The British crown spared no expense or irony in its grotesque reenactment of biblical rituals meant to uphold the divine rights of kings. The Stone of Scone, a representation of English domination over Scotland was retrieved from Scotland and taken back to London amid criticism from Scottish independence agitators. The swearing of allegiance by subjects, including children who were asked to swear allegiance to the king in class, was done with occultic and dramatic effect.

Leaders from Britain’s present and former colonies sent representatives or went in person to offer congratulations to Charles for ascending to the height of British society, based simply on his accident of birth. Nigeria’s own president, Muhammadu Buhari, dropped a nation in crisis and jetted off to London to congratulate the same crown Nigeria fought and won its independence from. 

In true colonial fashion, the crown tried to hide its ugly colonial past and neo-colonial present by deploying several performers selected from its different (former) colonies. The Nigerian Afrobeats star, Tiwa Savage, performed “Keys to the Kingdom” from Beyoncé’s award-winning album, BLACK IS KING, in an act of dramatic irony.

It is worth reiterating that the U.K. is currently in a cost of living crisis. Food inflation is up by 16.7% and the cost of gas has spiked by 130% since the west imposed sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. In November, the U.K.’s Office for Budget Responsibility projected that disposable income would fall by 4.3% in 2022-23, the largest drop since comparable records began in 1956. The waiting list in the healthcare system is so bad that you basically only get treated after your illness has become serious enough to kill you.

Successive British governments have all run austerity regimes, claiming there was no “magic money tree” to adequately fund social services. But hundreds of billions of pounds could be spent on a big anti-democratic ritual by the same colonisers who have resisted all demands for reparations by its victims. 

A whopping 65 countries gained their independence from the British crown, millions were sold into slavery, many were uprooted from their homes and brought to work in the U.K. only to then be deported with no compensation. It begs the question: What are they celebrating exactly? The British royal family has been a leech on peoples and nations in the global south peoples and also on working-class British people British as well. About $100 million is budgeted for the monarch every year, through boom and bust, through growth and economic depression. And yet this historical relic of imperialist abuses continues to abide.

A lot is also done by the media to rationalise what is a gross violation of popular sovereignty. Arise TV host, Reuben Abati took the opportunity to defend Tiwa Savage from harsh criticisms over her performing for a white supremacist, religiously discriminatory monarchy, calling her critiques “bad belle”. He went ahead and congratulated Charles on now being a king. Remember, we are in 2023.

The British monarch has continued to lose its lustre, even amongst the British public. After the last monarch, Elizabeth II died, a wave of criticism ensued from Britain’s former colonies. Calls for reparations heightened, criticisms of the crown were so widespread that royalists appealed for the criticisms to be suspended while Elizabeth was being mourned by her most slavish subjects. 

The same thing happened with the coronation. Several governments are asking for their stolen artefacts and jewels to be returned with an apology. Countries like Jamaica have embarked on processes to discard the British monarch as their head of state. While bourgeois elements of British society such as the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), the ruling Conservative Party, and the Labour Party under Keir Starmer, have all mobilised to play advocate for the indefensible. 

But polling shows that with each younger generation the appetite for the abrogation of the divine right of Kings grows. 38% of 18 – 24 year olds say the monarchy should be abolished, against 32% who favour keeping it. It is the first generation to have a numerical plurality in favour of democratisation. And it’s about time too. The days of celebrating monarchies are far gone and it’s only a matter of time before the British monarchy is relegated, finally, to the dustbin of history.

by Kayode Somtochukwu ANI

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