Elizabeth’s reign saw the hard-won independence of African countries and Caribbean islands, but cloud of colonialism hangs over her legacy
Upon taking the throne in 1952, Queen Elizabeth inherited millions of subjects around the world, many of them unwilling. Today, in the British Empire’s former colonies, her death brings complicated feelings, including anger.
Beyond official condolences praising the queen’s longevity and service, there is some bitterness about the past in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and elsewhere. Talk has turned to the legacies of colonialism, from slavery to corporal punishment in African schools to looted artefacts held in British institutions. For many, the queen came to represent all of that during her seven decades on the throne.
In Kenya, where decades ago a young Elizabeth learned of her father’s death and her enormous new role as queen, a lawyer named Alice Mugo shared online a photograph of a fading document from 1956. It was issued four years into the queen’s reign, and well into Britain’s harsh response to the Mau Mau rebellion against colonial rule.