The End of Empire? Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II Has Died

Twenty-five when she became queen, Queen Elizabeth II’s reign saw a declining, brutal British Empire and declarations of independence that have continued till date in former British colonies across Africa and the African diaspora.

Buckingham Palace has announced the death of Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch. ‘The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon. The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening,’ an official message from the palace said. She passed away at the age of 96. Prince Charles, her eldest son, will succeed her.

Queen Elizabeth II was born in Mayfair, London in 1926 to the Duke and Duchess of York (later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth). In 1952, after the death of her father, Queen Elizabeth II ascended the throne, becoming sovereign of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan, and Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka). Her coronation, which became the first British ceremony to be televised, was held at Westminster Abbey on June 2, 1953. She was married to Prince Philip who passed away at the age of 99, in April 2021.

Queen Elizabeth II’s 70-year reign made her Britain’s longest-reigning monarch. Twenty-five when she became queen, her coronation coincided with a declining British Empire and mounting anti-colonial resistance such as the Mau Mau Uprising of 1952-1960, in which British colonial officials brutalized and killed thousands of Kenyans.

Throughout her reign Queen Elizabeth II witnessed declarations of independence in former British colonies across Africa and the African diaspora. As early as 1957, Ghana removed Queen Elizabeth II as head of state, becoming the first African country to gain its independence from European colonization. More recently, in November 2021, Barbados officially left the British monarchy and became a republic. As of April 2022, at least six other countries in the Caribbean including Jamaica have indicated their intentions to leave the monarchy by 2025. At the time of her death, Queen Elizabeth II was officially recognized as head of state in 15 countries including the UK

Recommended Reading

Here are some Republic articles to read for more context on colonization and decolonization across Africa:

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‘Africa Deserves a Formal Apology’
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Brutish Museums
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The Case for Colonial Reparations

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