Pakistani Christians pay respect for Queen Elizabeth at Balmoral though global hurt over Britain’s colonial past resurfaces


London: (By Hannah Chowdhry) Juliet Chowdhry laid flowers before Balmoral Castle in remembrance of Queen Elizabeth II  

Hannah  Chowdhry, one of our volunteers began her life at a Scottish university on the same date that Queen Elizabeth II passed away.

To show their respect for the former sovereign her mother Juliet Chowdhry and Hannah visited Balmoral Castle on Saturday 10th September.  There they laid some flowers in remembrance of Queen Elizabeth II.

Only hours earlier they had watched the vehicle procession in which the coffin with Queen Elizabeth’s body was taken to Holyrood Castle in Edinburgh, before it was to be displayed at St Giles Cathedral for public mourning.

Juliet Chowdhry, said:

“I felt it was important to say thank you to the Queen for the wonderful years of service she gave to the UK. 

“Her passionate Christmas and Easter Speeches for years have been evangelical in nature and it was refreshing to hear the testimonies she shared.

“In World War II she worked as a nurse and mechanic providing humble support to the war effort.

“A life without scandal and one devoted to her nation of Britain is what she will be remembered for.

“It was nice to be at Balmoral because there was a distinct lack of diversity and Queen Elizabeth was a queen who I believe encompassed diversity.”

We were quite early at Balmoral Castle and by later in the day many more flowers had covered the entire forecourt.

In particular British Asian Christian Association are thankful that that despite it’s colonial past Britain has emerged as a very egalitarian nation (within its borders) since the collapse of the empire.

Even then, many detractors have been calling for an end to the monarchy and are using the death of Queen Elizabeth II as an opportunity to advance this mission.

There is definitely a mixed perspective on the value of the Royal Family in Britain but a small majority still seem to be in favour, in most polls taken (click here).  Reasons often quoted revolve around  a desire for democratically elected head of states, and the need for such a costly monarchy.

However, people in the UK especially those from ex-colony migrant families and outside of our borders from similar backgrounds, have a historical concern that is more wounding and results in more vitriolic calls for an end to the monarchy.  In a recent tirade Uju Anya a US-based,  Carnegie Mellon University professor made remarks such as:

“I heard the chief monarch of a thieving, raping, genocidal empire is finally dying.  May her pain be excruciating.” 

This was tweeted at 9.12am on 8th September only hours before Queen Elizabeth II was pronounced dead.

Carnegie Mellon University have distanced themselves from Uju Anya’s (46 yrs) comments but have taken no further action.

Ms Anya was supported by tweets from Zoé Samudzi, a Zimbabwean American photography professor at the Rhode Island School of Design,  she wrote:

“I would dance on the graves of every member of the royal family if given the opportunity, especially hers”

Ms Anya has written on her twitter account that her mother was born in Trinidad and her father in Nigeria, eventually meeting in England in 1950s, having been sent there to go to school.

She added:

“In addition to the colonization on the side of Nigeria, there’s also the human enslavement in the Caribbean. So there’s a direct lineage that I have to not just people who were colonized, but also people who were enslaved by the British.”

Twitter has suspended the twitter accounts of both parties explaining that the content of their tweets does not meet their community standards.

There is also a petition that has been created by a group called Foundational ‘Black American’ detailing a black-on-black racial slurs Ms Anya has used.  They accuse her of further promoting ‘Systematic Racism’ and have  tried to have her removed from her post at Carnegie Mellor University 

Whatever we feel about the above, The Guardian themselves have written an article in which they examine how the death of Queen Elizabeth II has reignited voices that criticize the colonial past of Britain.  A colonial past that no-one can argue was brutal and avaricious. 

When Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne in 1952, she ruled over 70 nations, Do

Yet it should be noted that though the Queen has had a regular talks with the Prime Minister’s of the UK, including 15 (16 Prime Ministers in total though Harold Wilson was elected twine non-consecutively) along her historically long reign.  Her powers of veto more or less ceremonial, have never been enacted by any of the seated Monarchy during the period of constitutional monarchy, and would probably result in a backlash if they were used.

It’s impossible to gauge what was said during those talks with Prime Ministers as these have never been recorded a secrecy that continues. In particular, we do not know whether the Queen supported the brutal treatment of Kenyan people during the Mau Mau rebellion (click here). Roughly 1.5 million people were forced into concentration camps where they were subjected to torture, rape and other violations.  Britain in 2015 put up a monument to commemorate the sacrifice of Mau Mau and other Kenyans in their fight for freedom, and compensated 5528 claimants with £19 million. This was agreed in an out-of-court settlement in 2103.

What we can say is that Queen Elizabeth II’s family certainly benefitted from brutal colonialism and that the early years of her reign continued in some instances, a very deplorable empirical subjugation.

In an interview on ABC News (Friday 9th September) an unrepentant Ms Anya spoke of the theft of Riches from Africa and India. She loosely mentioned the ‘Kohi Noor’ diamond on a crown that was made for the Queen Mother and ‘The Great Star of Africa’ or Cullinan l which is the largest known clear-cut diamond in the world. Yet both were gifted to previous monarchs. Cullinan which was mined in South Africa in 1905 and was given to King Edward III as a gift albeit by a white president (click here), while the Kohi Noor was ‘surrendered’ to Queen Victoria by Maharajah Dileep Singh (11 yrs) as part of a treaty of peace after losing the second Anglo-Skih War 

The combined worth of these diamonds are worth over a £billion and could help with the great poverty in the nations of India and South Africa.  Ms Anya is supported by a large number of people in India and South Africa calling for these diamonds to be returned and for reparations for much more that was stolen during Britain’s imperialism.

Others argue that Britain has given a lot in foreign aid to these nations and continues to make a payment in sorts for the past colonialism.

Moreover, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran believe the Kohi Noor diamond belongs to them, because it changed hands through several empires. Firstly that makes it difficult to establish a rightful owner, but secondly surely each of these empires were as brutal as each other.  They all exacted a lot of wealth through the backs of the people they conquered and none were innocent.  So who deserves these jewels?

If the purpose of returning of these diamonds is not for a balancing of the poverty in thesenations, then there is no real benefit. These are valuable diamonds though heritage has a  value, placing them in another nations Museum for public display means that you replace one set of wealthy tourists for another. Does this really provide any more value to the lives of people in the nations claiming them back?

We are not trying to justify retention of these jewels by the Royal Family, such decisions are not in our realm to make anyway.  But would these jewels be safe in some of the countries seeking the Kohi Noor back, where corruption is rife and theft is common? Even if they were only a sale and investment of the profits into the lives of poverty-stricken majority would serve any purpose, but that’s not likely.

Ms Anya also laid blame on the Queen for the war that broke out between Biafra separatists wanting independence for Nigeria’s Igbo people and the Nigerian Government in 1967.  This occurred 7 years after Nigeria became independent and 15 years into the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. The Nigerian Government repressed the separatists during a two-year war in which over a million people died – Britain provided weapons.

Ms Anya must be aware that the Queens powers are largely ceremonial, but still chooses to blame Queen Elizabeth II.  Much the same as detractors of various recent wars in the Middle-East – the head of state is an easy target once Prime Ministers have long gone.

Juliet Chowdhry, Trustee for British Asian Christian Association, said:

“I am shocked at the language used by a university professor whose website  (click here) alludes to work towards ‘social justice’.

“I understand her passion for justice and change but garnering support with such hateful words, attracts the wrong attention and only causes alienation and conflict.

“I will be praying for peace in her heart, the hurts she is holding onto happened some while ago.

“It seems very unlikely that Queen Elizabeth was directly involved in decisions that caused her outrage.

“To keep that anger against a new generation that was not part of a history that has caused huge schism and angst, would be futile.

“Hopefully, in time she and the world can move on from the dark history of a former world.”

The Queen has made a previous public apology for the treatment of the Mauri’s in New Zealand under the name of the Royal Family.  This apology was based on land sequestered from the Maouri people in breach of the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi (click here).  The Royal family have not reciprocated a similar apology  for many other grieved nations under former British rule.  Queen Elizabeth II did give a sort-of-apology to the Irish at a banquet in Ireland (click here), but something more formal seems to never have materialised.

Floral tributes brightened the forecourt of Balmoral Castle.

Juliet Chowdhry, trustee for British Asian Christian Association, added:

“Delving into the historical colonial past of Britain reveals a lot of hurt and pain for many people across the globe.

“This however was a malaise attributed to all the great empires of old – none were innocent.

“It does seem there is a desire for an apology from the British Royal Family for their colonial past, in fairness most of the empirical direction would have been set by politicians.

“Even then I hope that King Charles III will take a step that Queen Elizabeth II did not, and will consider apologies for the cruel treatment that so many nations suffered under the former British Empire.

“I also pray that such an apology has the affect of assuaging some of the bitterness that the pains of the past has had on people today.

“In the same token however, if an apology is to be given by the British Royal family, then surely lead figures from every nation that has had an empire should reciprocate, the same sentiment.”

In defence of Queen Elizabeth II, she has notably travelled the world more extensively than any previous monarch, building bridges wherever she went.

In 2011 during a speech at Dublin Castle Queen Elizabeth II praised the Good Friday Agreement.  She also paid tribute ‘to all those who have suffered as a consequence of our troubled past’. Stunning the whole crowd to silence.

The following year the Queen shook the hand of Martin McGuinness, then the deputy first minister of Northern Ireland and a former leader of the Provisional IRA. He later said the Queen’s moving words in Dublin had changed his mind about going ahead with the once-unthinkable meeting.

The Queen also had a very personal relationship with Nelson Mandela, both were very relaxed before each other. Ms la Grange, Mandela’s private secretary from 1994 to 2013 said that they had a ‘common sense of duty and service’ (click here). Though, we are sure Mandela also respected how outspoken Queen Elizabeth II was when Britain under Thatcher refused to endorse sanctions during the period of apartheid.  Apparently the Queen threatened to end weekly meetings with the PM.  The Queen is well known to have stopped visits to the nation, only returning after Mandela was elected (click here).

Juliet Chowdhry added:

“Personally I am not affected by the cruelty of the past.

“It was enacted by people of old and they are the ones who will hold account for their actions before God.

“I admire Queen Elizabeth, for her strength of character to see through changes in Britain, that have made us one of the fairest nations in the modern world.

“I have always felt more equal here in Britain than I ever was in Pakistan.

“Women are more empowered and free and have way more rights.

“A persons creed, colour and faith are equal under the law and constitution- though there are still institutional problems.

“What beleaguers me is the failure for many ex-colonial nations to improve their internal politics to match the freedoms of the west.” 

British Asian Christian Association is neither pro-monarchy or anti-monarchy in their view, as a group we simply follow Biblical instruction:

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” Romans 13 v 1

“Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.” 1 Peter 2:13-14

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