The last photo is the most endearing.
Standing in the center of a room at Balmoral Castle with hunched shoulders and that unmistakable bulb of white hair, and leaning gingerly on a brown wooden cane, Queen Elizabeth II was as sweet as her smile.
Her mottled hands and slender figure told a different story. They were the undeniable signs that this old and frail sovereign was approaching the inevitable.
Yet she seemed content, if not happy. At the time, dressed in a long gray cardigan, matching tartan skirt and brown loafers, the Queen – who reigned for seven decades – looked more grandmother than monarch.
Perhaps she knew what was to come and decided to give her family and subjects in England and beyond who admired and loved her one last happy image to remember her by.
That she was able to muster the strength and enthusiasm to offer a new Prime Minister the courtesy of an official audience is, I suppose, testament to the Queen’s determination to carry out her duties as best she could until at the very end.
A nice 96-year-old woman has passed away.
From the moment news of his death broke, the tone of much of the media coverage was somber and reverential. With a funeral procession and succession ceremony on the horizon, we can expect that hushed and respectful vibe to continue.
But, even at this gloomy hour, it would be deeply irresponsible and a flagrant mistake to avoid acknowledging that the imperial institution led by Queen Elizabeth II has caused indelible damage and suffering to so many people, in so many places. .
Only recently have members of the royal family been forced to publicly admit the inhuman consequences of the crown’s long and disfiguring history of being the pretty face of violence, racism, slavery and of the massive plunder of largely non-white nations that made up the British colonial empire. .
Earlier this year, in the opening address of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kigali, Prince Charles said “this is a conversation whose time has come”.
Indeed, the British monarchy has much to answer and atone for.
Unfortunately – but not surprisingly – the prince’s remarks were only a modest and belated concession; a timid first step, at best, towards what he described as a “pathway” to “acknowledge our past”.
Anyone who expected a more explicit or comprehensive apology for the brutal subjugation of Indigenous peoples and the premeditated erasure of ancient ways of life in dozens of once-occupied lands in the benevolent name of King or Queen has been disappointed. .
Instead, Prince Charles addressed only one of the litany of sadistic sins committed with the knowledge and approval of his golden ancestors: slavery.
“I would like to recognize that the roots of our contemporary association go deep into the most painful period of our history. I cannot describe the depth of my personal grief at the suffering of so many, as I continue to deepen my own understanding of the lasting impact of slavery,” he said.
Translation: I feel your pain. Oh, and despite being 73 years old, I promise I’m going to start thinking seriously about how and why my loved ones caged you and sold you like chattel for enrichment.
It was a sorry and inadequate expression of qualified regret by a man who, by virtue of primogeniture, is now king.
So, as King Charles III prepares for his ascension to the throne and contemplates, seemingly, the ugly remnant of slavery, some states that make up the Commonwealth choose maturity and sovereignty over the farcical colonial past.
Last December, the small, sun-drenched Caribbean island of Barbados broke free – fully and totally – from the mythical “homeland”. A desperate Prince Charles was there to witness the island’s proud trajectory from a former client state to a full republic.
For Republicans like me, the wise men of Barbados testify to the power of common sense and imagination. The “Ties That Bind” is a silly fiction promoted by flattering sentimentalists and historical revisionists who prefer to peddle sugary lies about a past anachronism called the British Monarchy.
I hope other Commonwealth realms that treat the British monarch as their head of state will follow Barbados’ exemplary example.
This decision should be easier to make in part because the Windsor family has not only turned into farce, petty recriminations and irreparable breakups, but has also been accused of committing despicable sexual crimes, including rape. , against vulnerable children.
Prince Andrew has disappeared amid allegations that he participated in an international scheme to lure and rape girls to satisfy his sexual appetites in the company of an equally wealthy and notorious pedophile who later committed suicide in jail.
Money, position and prestige protected him. His mother too. This nice gray lady with a soft and becoming smile.
Prince Andrew has been ghosted and stripped of his royal ‘duties’ because he exposed all the odious aspects of the royal family that his PR machinery works to cover up: entitlement, impunity and the smug satisfaction of knowing that deference will always be paid to Blue Bloods.
And yet, it may have been Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, who deliberately revealed that the monarchy’s sell-by date had expired a long time ago.
In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, the wealthy dilettante couple derided and dismissed the choreographed fraud they once were a part of and have since ditched for sunny and lucrative Los Angeles.
Meghan told Oprah that her family is living an “authentic” life today, not an “unrealistic fairy tale”.
Meanwhile, Harry confessed his father and older brother were ‘trapped’ in the same ‘system’ that chained him down. “They can’t leave,” he said.
The mirage is backed, they agreed, by an understanding between Buckingham Palace and the tabloid press that both sides reconfirm at summer garden parties where Fleet Street hacks share drinks and chat with the who’s who of British royalty.
The couple also disclosed that racism remains as present today as it was yesterday within the ‘modern’ royal family.
It was a refreshing slice of honesty and a reminder that the monarchy deserves a funeral — not the relentless hagiography that viewers will be served up in the days and weeks to come.
For my part, I will not watch, read or listen to a bit of it. I have a lot of other useless business to attend to.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Al Jazeera.