In his 1886 gothic novella, the unusual case of dr jekyll and mr hyde, scottish writer robert louis stevenson tells the story of dr henry jekyll, rich, well-born, and extremely revered, who develops a potion that permits him to separate his evil wishes from the management of his good self, thus giving rise to the grotesque and deformed edward hyde. Jekyll believes that he can obtain the pleasure that each components of his being crave with out every being encumbered by the calls for of the opposite.
Watching media protection of festivities marking queen elizabeth ii’s platinum jubilee – 70 years since she acceded to the throne – i couldn’t assist feeling that the british state had achieved one thing related. The pomp and circumstance surrounding the celebrations, from the marching troops to beacons lit all over the world, had been undoubtedly harking back to the long-faded glories of the empire, which immediately are personified by the queen and her household. Nevertheless, the reminiscence of the horrors that empire visited on hundreds of thousands across the globe – the place, to borrow jekyll’s description of his alter-ego hyde, “evil … had left on that physique an imprint of deformity and decay” – was nearly utterly absent from the telling.
It was throughout a go to to kenya in february 1952 that she realized of her father’s loss of life and have become queen. She and her husband, prince philip, had nearly skipped that leg of their imperial tour on condition that the colony was already within the early levels of the armed kenya land and freedom military peasant riot that the world would come to know because the mau mau rebellion. The romanticised story of the lady who went up a tree a princess and descended a queen tends to disregard the circumstances she was thrust into in addition to the loss of life, torture, brutalisation and dispossession of kenyans that will mark the primary decade of her reign. For sure, little of that made it into the platinum jubilee brochure.
A big a part of the worldwide media appeared to obsess over the reactions of four-year-old prince louis to the royal air drive (raf) flypast, his facial expressions drawing “howls of pleasure and amusement from the watching crowd”. In november 1953, practically two years into elizabeth’s reign, my father would have been about the identical age as prince louis. I doubt many journalists would spend any time imagining his reactions over the subsequent 20 months as raf planes flew over the focus camps into which the british had compelled 1.5 million individuals and dropped practically six million bombs on kenyans demanding their land and freedom. I think about they’d have been very completely different.
Little ink might be spilled on one other function of elizabeth ii’s reign – operation legacy, the systematic try to erase and warp the reality concerning the colonial enterprise by the wide-scale theft, destruction and doctoring of paperwork because the wind of change swept her empire away. In 2013, after a bunch of aged kenyans sued the uk, the international workplace was compelled to confess it had illegally hidden a couple of million colonial-era paperwork that ought to have been declassified. Up to now, these paperwork stay within the uk and are but to be repatriated to the colonies they had been stolen from.
Meant to spare the british authorities the embarrassment and legal responsibility for the atrocities and crimes dedicated in the course of the colonial period, the existence of the archive was hidden not simply from kenyans, however from the british individuals, a lot of whom retain a romanticised model of the empire as a benevolent endeavor and stay deeply unaware of its inhumanity.
The queen immediately is the dr jekyll to the uk’s mr hyde – encapsulating the glory and benevolence of the empire with the evil separated out. Neither she nor her descendants have deigned to acknowledge, apologise and search to make amends for the horrors visited upon kenyans in her title. The $25 million grudgingly paid out to five,000 mau mau veterans in 2013 was a pittance in comparison with the violence and dispossession suffered (keep in mind 190 years in the past the nation used 40 p.C of its nationwide funds to compensate slave house owners – not slaves – following the abolition of slavery), and the british authorities continues to disclaim legal responsibility for the sins of the colonial administration, in impact arguing that kenyans had inherited the culpability for their very own oppression. The murmurs of “remorse” on the atrocities thus fall far wanting an apology. Extra importantly, there was no effort made to search out and punish the individuals who dedicated the atrocities, although some should still be alive.
Some might argue that as a constitutional monarch, she wields little energy over the selections made and actions carried out in her title. Nevertheless, by selecting to remain silent whereas she and her household proceed to benefit from the fruits of oppression, she has successfully displayed both astounding ethical cowardice or quietly endorsed these actions and selections.
Her platinum jubilee is a name to a collective misremembering of her imperial previous and the violence and distress the state she heads and represents has wrought on the earth. However like jekyll, the provision of rigorously crafted falsehoods conserving the hyde-bound reality at bay is working out. World wide, as evidenced by the protests throughout latest royal excursions of the caribbean and the willpower expressed by these nations to rid themselves of the queen as head of state, the demand for an acknowledgement of the reality and for justice is constructing steam. If the uk persists in making an attempt to cover from its darkish previous, it dangers its worldwide status and standing being consumed by it.