Greens Senator and DjabWurrung, Gunnai and Gunditjmara woman Lidia Thorpe continues to set out her stall as the new Parliament’s chief conservative baiter. Today she wrangled a front page on The Australian with her black power salute after being forced to take a second oath of allegiance after describing the Queen as “colonising” in her first attempt. It made news around the world and prompted an entirely predictable flurry of outrage, such as from Jacinta Price, Pauline Hanson and Ben Fordham.
But one doesn’t have to be an unequivocal Thorpe fan to observe that what she said is simply an observable statement of fact — Queen Elizabeth is not just England’s monarch (and Australia’s, of course, as England’s cricket fans are always so happy to remind everyone).
To pick only the most obvious example: we are fairly sure Scotland and Northern Ireland did not petition anyone asking for the benevolence and wisdom of the English crown. Beyond that, and Australia, her majesty reigns in Canada, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and a scattering of Caribbean states. In total, she is the monarch of 15 countries.
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The fact that — by sheer historical coincidence, of course — England has become a lot less explicitly colonial since her 1952 ascension to the throne, the fact that these countries are independent sovereign states in which the crown has largely symbolic power (then again, tell that to Gough Whitlam…) is kind of irrelevant: the dominion of the English monarchy, however diluted, is a result of colonialism; the wealth of the crown comes in part from colonial spoils; and the monarchy was instrumental in setting up slavery.
In its bones, the crown is a symbol and a projection of colonialism.