BREAKING: Queen still dead

Unlike billions of poor and unroyally deceased, the Queen will live forever. On plaques and teapots and that sort of thing. Just as her life was unlike any commoner’s, so too her death – marked by global pageantry, unending rolling news, and fawning displays of servitude from important people and Tim Smith.

Have you ever wanted to give anyone a wedgie as much as Tim Smith?

Whether the loyal subjects of Kew like it or not, inevitably the details of Her Majesty’s life will fade with time, the contours rounded into the mist of history and myth, her crowned visage no longer adorning gift shop crockery, but she will forevermore remain a name occasionally glanced at by historians, monarchists and your garden variety massive dork. It’s more than the rest of us could hope for.

In a much more medically accurate sense, though, the Queen is dead. Massively, massively dead at the most excellent age of 96. She was Australia’s head of state, and no other death has ever deathed quite this hard before. Her mourning period is longer than anyone’s in living memory; newsreaders’ suits are blacker, the rehearsed gravity of their tone graver; Parliament more disrupted, closed for 15 days (impacting four sitting days) of official bereavement by decree. I was personally sadder about Chris Cornell, but I never had the privilege of hearing the Queen sing Black Hole Sun on an acoustic guitar at the Palais Theatre. This is all arguably quite a big deal. 

In London, the heart of the Empire, the long sombre lines of mourners were longer and somberer and more mournful. The ABC’s Michael Rowland stood outside a large closed gate broadcasting through the night as nothing continued to happen, the Queen still dead, joined by 30 odd staffers flown around the world to cover the natural and peaceful death of an extremely old woman living large on the public purse.

And underlying all of it – dripping through every moment of Britain’s performative mommy issues – the unceasing and enthusiastic reminder of Australia’s status as a “realm”, royal spin for “colony”: a nation not quite standing on its own feet yet, the feeling reinforced with every careful and obedient action of the Prime Minister’s, every dated piece of protocol and convention. We might consider ourselves a modern enlightened nation but if King Charles pulls a sword from a stone, as Victorian Liberal leader Matthew “Matt” Guy is no doubt expecting at some point, Australia will curtsey along.  

Showing uncharacteristic restraint, it was eleven days into the official mourning marathon of Queen Elizabeth II before Rupert Murdoch’s Sky News Australia had advocated openly for the restoration of the British Empire and a re-colonisation of de-colonised peoples. 

“Let’s start a new movement: bring back the British Empire,” said slightly sentient host Rowan Dean rather racistly. “Bring it back. You look at countries like Zimbabwe, like Uganda in Africa, where they decolonised with disastrous results; you look at countries like India and Pakistan, which have struggled since the colonial era.” James Morrow, federal political editor at The Daily Telegraph and a man who once ate undercooked quail with a pube on it, added: “If you’re frank about the historical record, guys, decolonisation was a bigger disaster in so many places around the world, and led to so much more bloodshed, violence, and all sorts of chaos that the empire itself didn’t cause.”

Leaving aside Morrow’s alarmingly loose grip on cause and effect, there is a simple reason why advocacy for white supremacy feels more appropriate at this time of royal mourning than advocating for an Australian republic: the Crown is the archaic institution behind centuries of dispossession and Indigenous death. That is all. That is of the historical record. But to point this out now is apparently disrespectful.  

We have been asked to think about the Queen’s death for weeks now, her mourning nearing its climax with yesterday’s public holiday, but we are being told to do so without any real depth – to not think about what she really represented. 

NOW’S NOT THE TIME, we keep being told, to consider what this symbol of colonialism actually means. Focus on the person, the woman – by all accounts a competent and devoted figurehead that people and corgis rather liked. Do not cast your thoughts to the Crown, to the violent colonisation and dispossession of native peoples across the planet, the British Empire having wielded a raging hard-on for other people’s stuff for centuries now.

NOW IS NOT THE TIME!! Elizabeth II wasn’t even born during the worst violence of the Empire, they keep saying – an argument akin to excusing the current executives of BHP and Shell because they didn’t personally start the climate crisis, despite still benefitting, still profiting, still living large lives on the backs of death and misery. 

I am all for respecting Tim Smith’s broken heart, but I take serious issue with the nation’s engineered cognitive dissonance.

Because if you live your life as a symbol for something larger than your mortal self – be it the Queen or fucking Batman – then surely it makes sense to discuss what that symbol actually represents when its custodianship is passed to another? We discuss democracy during elections, so why should we not ponder the monarchy and a future Australian republic during nepotistic transfers of inherited power built upon centuries of stolen wealth and genocide? That is, after all, the whole point: it is how monarchy works, and perhaps, just maybe, we don’t need this sort of thing? Couldn’t we get someone else, anyone really, to rubber stamp our secret ministries and secretly conspire to depose our elected Labor Prime Ministers?

In a week where Aboriginal Australians have had the traumas of the past re-surfaced by the alleged systemic racism and “white saviour” complexes at Hawthorn Football Club – comparisons to the Stolen Generations being all but unavoidable – listening to the truth telling of this land’s original custodians means recognising the monarchy for what it actually is: an undemocratic, violent, expansionist relic.

Let our allegiance to the Crown die with Elizabeth II, who, I’ve just checked, is still dead. 

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