As tributes poured in after Queen Elizabeth II’s death on Thursday, some internet users expressed dissent, sometimes going so far as to celebrate the death of a sovereign they posit as a symbol of Britain’s colonial past.
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“Lizzy’s in a box”, a video announcing supporters at the Dublin (Ireland) stadium, went viral on YouTube and Twitter within hours.
On Snapchat, some of their mates look like they’re dancing in a nightclub displaying the message “Lizzy’s dead” or all smiles and thumbs up before the announcement of the British sovereign’s death on television.
Another scene shows three Irish dancers in front of Buckingham Palace to the tune of “Another One Bites the Dust” by the Queen’s troupe. The scene was filmed in January 2022, but it resurfaced on Twitter on Thursday, where it was “liked” by more than 530,000 people within 24 hours.
Behind the hashtags #IrishTwitter, #BlackTwitter and #IndianTwitter, since Thursday there have been a variety of videos, photos and messages in English, but also in Spanish or French, often openly mocking and sometimes very political, reminiscent of Elizabeth II, in her time. The 70-year reign was also the sovereignty of a country that had colonized others.
“The colonial queen passed away today,” a netizen announced in English in a viral video on TikTok. “She has committed many abuses,” adds another 25,000 times “loved” in French, inviting her subscribers to learn about the “Mau Mau’s rebellion” against colonial forces in Kenya in the 1950s. At least 10,000 of these were killed, according to the lowest estimates.
“Today, we mourn for all the lives stolen, raped and traumatized, hurt and destroyed during the reign of Elizabeth II,” reads a message posted in English on Facebook in several groups dedicated to the Australian Aboriginal community.
Uju Anya, a professor at a prestigious American university and born in the former British colony of Nigeria, criticized Elizabeth II in tweets, drawing a lot of criticism.
“If anyone expects me to express anything but hatred for a sovereign who has overseen a government that has fostered a genocide that has massacred and displaced half of my family … they can only dream forever,” he said after the 1967 civil war (or “Biafra War”), which claimed at least one million at regional secession. People died (mostly of starvation). The United Kingdom was accused of contributing to the crisis by supporting the central government.
South Africa’s hard-left Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party released a widely retweeted statement: “We do not mourn Elizabeth’s passing, for us her death is a reminder of a sad time for the country. And the history of Africa.”.
When Elizabeth was born in 1926, the British Empire spanned six continents. During his reign, which began in 1952, most of the 56 countries that make up the Commonwealth gained independence, including several countries on the African continent such as Ghana, Kenya or the Gambia.