CONGRATULATIONS to the Manila Times’ editors. It was the only broadsheet not to exhibit such a colonial mentality as to put as its banner headline on September 10 British Queen Elizabeth 2nd’s death nor have photos of her occupy most of the front page. The Inquirer, Star, Bulletin’s front pages were more British than the Daily Mail, the Guardian or the Times of London.
A newspaper is the soul of a nation and our soul has little to do with Elizabeth 2nd and the UK. Our only major historical contact with England was a horrific episode, when the English in 1762 pillaged Manila for 30 hours, and occupied it for three months, in the wake of their “Seven Years’ War” with Spain. Even in terms of economic ties, the UK is less important to us, being our 20th biggest trade partner. I bet many of these newspapers’ readers were scratching their heads, wondering “Didn’t Elizabeth Taylor and Elizabeth Ramsey die years ago?”
Of course I grieve for Elizabeth 2nd, but heck she lived a full, very rich luxurious life for 96 years, her family and her clan subsidized by the government with the $100 million yearly sovereign grant to fund their public duties. The British Crown sits on $78 billion worth of assets. Has it undertaken any philanthropic enterprise such as those of the Bill and Melissa Gates Foundation?
The continuing adoration of Elizabeth 2nd is a a reflection of that Marxian thesis that dominant worldviews are determined, in a nation, by its ruling classes, and in the world by the dominant superpowers the US and UK — which despite the rise of China and Russia still control most of media and global narratives.
This is so even if Britain‘s power and prestige have declined in the past decades from its position as the US partner in ruling the world, to its junior partner, and then to the American running dog. Every war the US has waged in the past 50 years has the UK as its “loyal ally.” In the US invasion of Iraq, the UK was the Americans’ main ally even if its own legendary intelligence services had not found any evidence of the “weapons of mass destruction” that the entire US government claimed to be the casus belli.
The British love Elizabeth for being a symbol of their nation, its “grandmother” that held the country together through the profound changes in the world.
For them. Not for us nor for most the rest of the world. While Mother Teresa’s crusade was a huge ego trip, still, she has drawn attention from Christians all over the world to help the poor. In her 55-year reign, did Elizabeth use her prestige to call attention to the unjust wars that the US has waged, to condemn the genocide and colossal exploitation of Third World nations by her nation as the world’s biggest colonizer, or even to the urgency of climate change? No.
Writers who exaggerate her role in the world point out that she is the queen of the 56 states in the Commonwealth of Nations. That, however, is such a misnomer, as that mostly consists of the territories that the UK colonized in its heyday, exploiting their resources and creating economic systems that generate poverty to this day. A 2019 rigorously researched book by renowned economist Utsa Patnaik calculated that Britain drained a total of nearly $45 trillion from India during the period that the Indian subcontinent was under the British yoke from1765 to 1938.
Much of the Brits’ reverence for Elizabeth is due to their psychological need. It reminds them of their country’s Golden Age in the 16th century, especially as the queen regnant (the term for a female monarch) was the first Elizabeth, when England defeated its rival superpower Spain and started its ascent as the world’s superpower at the time.
In contrast to the first Elizabeth, English constitutional historian David Starkey described the second Elizabeth as follows:
“She has done and said nothing that anybody will remember. She will not give her name to her age. Or, I suspect, to anything else. I say this not as criticism but simply as a statement of fact. Even as a sort of compliment. And, I suspect, the queen would take it as such. For she came to the throne with one thought only: to keep the royal show on the road.” After all, the UK has become a representative democracy, and its queen regnant has no real power at all in the governance of the country.
Underlying this accolade for the second Elizabeth is the continuing belief in the notion of monarchy.
Monarchy was the main form of government that humanity adopted for thousands of years, since even pre-Biblical times, its relatively recent end starting with the French Revolution in 1789, the Russian revolution of 1917, and the Sun Yat-sen’s republican revolution in China in 1912. Christians even believe that the Jewish rebels that the Romans crucified in 30 BC was “Christ the King.” Indeed the afterlife for the faithful in Christian theology is a kingdom ruled by Jesus and the Queen Mother (Mary), angels as its knights and the 5,000 saints as its royal court. This religious twist, the hogwash of a royalty-as-good, has been etched deeply in our collective consciousness.
It is total hogwash that claimed that a family or a clan had been appointed by God to rule a country, a kingdom. Those who refused to believe that lie were massacred by the monarchs, by such professional militaries as England’s knights or Japan’s samurais, romanticized now as much as ancient monarchies are.
The corollary big lie about “monarchy” is the claim that the monarch’s blood which God had originally blessed for him to rule is transmitted to his descendants, the “royalty” or “nobility.” I don’t think the British nor anyone who has taken the most rudimentary biology course would believe the claim that the Deity’s license-to-rule is transmitted through the original license-holder’s blood, that is, his DNA.
Yet it is astonishing that the British and many in the West revere Elizabeth Alexandra May Windsor as “Queen Elizabeth 2nd,” a queen regnant because of her “bloodline” — which ironically was from the German House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, changed to House of Windsor only in 1917 by royal decree in the wake of intense anti-German sentiment in Britain after World War 1.
Movies have continued to portray royalty as an institution for the Good. The TV series “Game of Thrones” and “The Lord of Rings” would not have become blockbusters if people didn’t believe in monarchy: it is the idea of bloodline that allows Daenerys Targaryen to eventually claim the throne and for the Ranger of the North to become King of Rohan. Indeed, the books on which the “Lord of the Rings” television series were based were written by an articulate monarchist, J.R.R. Tolkien, who believed that only a righteous returning King (Aragorn) leading the kingdom Rohan (England) would be able to defeat Sauron (Stalin).
I used to be fascinated by those claims that Jesus Christ had living descendants (as was the “thesis” of another bestseller The Da Vinci Code) until I had that “so what?” moment. Kingship, secular or divine, can’t be transmitted through DNA.
Belief in royalty is anti-democratic and elitist. It believes that a tiny elite of humans has been endowed by some deity to have the greatest virtues and capacities that only they can rule over men. That is utter bollocks, as the English are fond of saying.
It is dangerous idea since it could disguise itself in other forms. Indeed, the idea of monarchy transmitted through blood has been so powerful even among Filipinos that they voted as president a mediocre politician, Benigno Aquino 3rd, almost entirely on the belief that in in his veins ran the blood of his clever father and the purity of heart of his mother — the Yellow Cults’ King and Queen.
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