Beneath the majestic medieval stones of Westminster Cathedral, unbeknownst to Prince William and his beloved Kate, or any of the other attendees at their wedding, whether noble or commoner, native or foreigner, there will be uninvited guests in the millions: the wraiths of all those subjugated peoples from yesteryear and the present too, who died or are now held in the Empire’s prisons, who fell fighting the Empire’s forces as they tried to prevent or throw off the subjection of their lands to the Empire’s lords and ladies while the latter sipped tea and ate cucumber sandwiches as their navvies and footmen put on their masks of smiles and their infantry mowed the wogs down for God and Country, God save the Queen, the King, the Royal Family.
Yes, the Royal Family, those grandees who battened, over the centuries, on the treasure and wasted flesh of millions toiling for the Great Ones’ benefit in the colonies of Aden (now Yemen, freed only in 1967), Ascension Island (still held captive), Anguilla, (still an outpost of the far-flung, now cartoonish Empire), Australia (independent only in 1901), the Bahamas (freed only in 1973), Bahrain (independent only in 1971), Barbados (set free in 1966), Basutoland (now Lesotho, freed from the British yoke only in 1966), Bechuananland (now Botswana, freed only in 1966), Bermuda (still under the yoke), British Cameroon (set loose in 1961), Guyana (let go in 1966), British Honduras (now Belize, let go only in 1981), Somaliland (freed in 1960), British Solomon Islands (loosed from the Empire only in 1978), Brunei (released only in 1984), Burma (now Myanmar, freed in 1948), Canada (let go in1926), the Cayman Islands (still serving their masters), Ceylon (now Sri Lanka, freed in 1948), Cyprus (let off in 1960), Egypt (granted a phony independence in 1922, only much later making it real), the Falkland Islands (still a contentious piece of the Empire), Fiji (let loose in1970), Gambia (emancipated in 1965), Gibraltar (still an outpost of the “constitutional monarchy”), Gilbert and Ellice Islands (now Kiribati and Tuvalu, let go in 1979, and 1978), Gold Coast (now Ghana, cast off in 1957), Grenada (let go in 1974), Hong Kong (released to the tender mercies of China only in 1997), India, Pakistan and Bangladesh (released from thralldom in 1947), Iraq (granted a limited independence in 1932, finalized only after WWII was well over), Ireland (begrudgingly and only partly granted independence in 1922 after being the first external colony of the monarchy, where for more than 300 years, the British developed and honed the methods they would later use to rule, exploit and oppress their other colonial peoples), Jamaica ( set free only in 1963), Kenya (also dropped from the Empire in 1963), Kuwait (let go only in 1961), Malaya (now Malaysia, freed finally in 1965), the Maldive Islands (set free only in 1976), Malta (liberated in 1964), Mauritius (sent off in 1961), Montserrat (not yet free), New Hebrides (now Vanuatu, emancipated in 1980), New Zealand (set off on its own in 1947), Nigeria (released from the Empire’s grip formally in 1960), North Borneo (now Sabah, let go in 1965), Nyasaland (now Malawi, launched into independence in 1963), Papua New Guinea (set loose in 1976), Palestine (now Israel and the West Bank (escaped finally from the Empire in 1948), Pitcairn Island (still in thrall), Qatar (only allowed to go its own way in 1971), Rhodesia (now Zambia and Zimbabwe, set free in 1964 and 1979), Sarawak (now part of Malaysia, released from bondage in 1965), St. Helena (not free yet), St. Kitts (now St. Kitts & Nevis, let go in 1983), St. Lucia (freed only in 1979), St. Vincent (freed in 1979), Seychelles (let out in 1976), Sierra Leone (set free in 1961), Singapore (let go in 1963), South Africa (let go in 1910), Sudan (released in 1954), Swaziland (let go in 1968), Tanganyika (now Tanzania, freed in 1963), Tonga (emancipated in 1970), Transjordan (now Jordan, freed in 1948), Trinidad (now Trinidad & Tobago, let go in 1962), Tristan da Cunha (still in thrall), Trucial Oman (now the United Arab Emirates, liberated in 1971), Turks & Caicos Islands (still not free), Uganda (let loose in 1962), Western Samoa (released in 1962) and Zanzibar (now part of Tanzania, let go in 1963).
In a very real sense, a significant portion of the problems we have today in many areas in the world are the direct or indirect result of Britain’s Empire and its policies (especially “divide and rule”), whose wealth accrued to the exalted beings at the top of the social and political hierarchy, namely the ancestors of, as well as, the currently reigning monarch and her spawn – so if they remain quiet and still long enough, they may just sense all those wraiths looking on, wearing their ghostly chains instead of fine garments and royal robes from the legendary, glorious past.
Also in attendance will be the spirits of the Founders of our own nation, wondering how so many of the fleshly and spiritual descendants of the people who made a new republic that slowly grew into the concept of a nation ruled not by monarchs and courtiers, but by the people themselves, could now be so obsessed with the marriage of one of the progeny of a relative of the very monarch and system they fought against to gain the independence of the United States of America.
But hey, we’ve our own Empire now, so maybe all those U.S. media people and pundits are over “across the pond” taking copious notes on how best to be subservient to the Imperial Presidency…
What was it that that ancient Roman senator said about “bread and circuses”? Or wait, I think our own Great Orator summed it up just the other day – about a different matter, but it’s still apropos of this: “We’re not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers.”
The question still remaining, however, is this: Was that statement a criticism or really a roundabout, disingenuous invitation?
~ Greg Driscoll