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Queen Elizabeth

Queen Elizabeth. Photo: Rajasekharan Parameswaran / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0, license linked at bottom of article

More than Meghan Markle’s revelations, the monarchy is rotten to the core and it’s time it was abolished, argues Mona Kamal

It is time to abolish the monarchy and the reason has little to do with Meghan Markle.

There is nothing shocking about the fact racism had a role to play in prompting Megxit – after all this is an institution which is racist at its heart by default.

The crimes of British colonialism, where black and brown people across the globe had their land and resources stolen from under them or were themselves captured and sold off as slaves, were motivated by avarice. Justified on the grounds of white racial superiority, they created racist ideology to warrant their plunder and murder.

Crucially the monarchy had a central role in accelerating England’s involvement in the transatlantic slave trade, a role which our own monarch has never thought to acknowledge or apologise for, neither has she acknowledged any of the instances of racism at the hands of the royal family over the years.

Instead, the monarchy has dissociated itself from its atrocities while at the same time benefiting from the spoils of colonialism. Perhaps this is why our media limits itself to eye rolling and harmlessly poking fun at the Duke of Edinburgh’s “gaffes” – it distracts us from the racist system which they are at the centre of.

Instead of apologies or reparations, the Queen still presides over ‘Empire 2.0’ in the form of the Commonwealth which serves as a new manifestation of British imperialism with perhaps less overt bloodshed but just as much theft of resources. Presently the UK controls more than $1 trillion worth of Africa’s key resources and raw materials.

Meanwhile, debt dependency, neoliberal trade agreements and the combination of low corporate tax rates and a complex system of tax havens for British companies mean Commonwealth countries continue to serve the interests of British capitalism. This neocolonialism means the African continent loses £30 billion more each year than it receives in aid or loans.

The myth of the working Royal

Those who support the royal family make the argument that they are somehow economically beneficial. But much of the costs of the monarchy are made by the Sovereign Grant which is covered entirely by the taxpayer. If they are indeed paying their way, why during the height of austerity, did the taxpayer have to fork out £370m for the refurbishment of Buckingham Palace?

During those early years of coalition government austerity, whilst we were told there was no choice but to sacrifice libraries, GP surgeries, NHS student bursaries and Disability Living Allowance, the Sovereign Grant Act which was passed into law in 2011 included a provision preventing any fall in the value of the Sovereign Grant.

The taxpayer has bailed out the monarchy and the value of the grant has continued to rise as austerity has punished the very poorest (much like a Brothers Grimm fairy tale).

A backwards institution

Racism and freeloading are reasons enough, but we need to be rid of the monarchy because while they exist the severe structural inequalities and divisions along lines of class and race (which this pandemic has revealed to be literally a matter of life or death) will only become more entrenched.

The monarchy serves as an embodiment of the idea that inequality is not only inevitable but a virtue and that privilege is owed to them and to the class they represent alone. They are the symbols of the delusion that power and prosperity for the few are the result of the ‘natural’ order of things and not rooted in deeply unequal power relations that have been manufactured and which are not therefore immune to challenge. This is the system and the ideology that underpins it that they will do anything to maintain, including apparently driving a woman to develop suicidal intent.

But this delusion is as ‘backwards’ as the countries they told us needed civilising. The monarchy is wholly incompatible with building a society around principles of democracy and justice and this is why it must be abolished.

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