British Monarchy ‘built on the backs' of slaves: Is The View host right to say during Queen's Platinum Jubilee?

Paul Grover / AP

Fact Box

  • Queen Elizabeth was born April 21, 1926, and was crowned on June 2, 1953. She remains the longest-reigning monarch in British history. The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee was celebrated on the first weekend in June 2022 to mark her 70-year reign. 
  • As British monarch, Queen Elizabeth is Head of the Anglican Church, as well as Head of the Commonwealth, “an association of 54 independent countries, most of which were once colonies or outposts of the British Empire.”
  • On June 3, 2022, The View co-host Sunny Hostin expressed her disapproval of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee because of recent research into “imperialism and colonization” noting, “Now I’m not as enamored of the pomp and circumstance, because it was built on the backs and the souls of slaves.”
  • British National Archives estimates that Britain transported 3.1 million Africans to the British colonies in the Caribbean, North and South American and to other countries. Slave trades were restricted to three major port cities in 1799: London. Bristol, and Liverpool.

Elisa (No)

The View hosts have made recent comments about the Queen's Platinum Jubilee that were confusing and hypocritical. The hosts, including Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, and Sunny Hostin have been criticized for making offensive and inaccurate statements in the past, even leading to suspension. In other words, The View hosts have often been slammed for hypocrisy on certain issues, seeming to believe what is politically convenient at the time.  

Their criticisms of imperialism are hypocritical, especially when they make an absurd amount of money, which would not be possible without the history of imperialism in the United States. Goldberg's comments are rather confusing and contradictory, where she criticizes the Jubilee event for its 'pomp and circumstance' without reflecting on her own elitism and moral hypocrisy. Ultimately, society's collective emotive response to British colonialism and imperialism has been weaponized by political actors who should not be speaking about politics in the first place. 

The truth is that the British system of colonial rule brought many benefits to its subject nations, such as a more fair law, greater equality under the law, and a stronger economic system. As understood through the Magna Carta, the English rule of law evolved into what we know as the American rule of law today, upheld through the Constitution. All first-world countries are characterized by imperialism on some level, so while we cannot change the past, we can focus on improving the times we are in and embrace patriotism in order to preserve and protect our nations. After all, these morally-pontificating TV hosts would not be where they are today without that same history of imperialism that undergirds the society atop which they now sit. Instead of harping on the past, they should practice experiencing gratitude for the present. 

Siam (Yes)

As historians research the British Empire, it becomes apparent that not everything was above board. There is no doubt the British explored the different continents with noble reasons in mind. But facts reveal that the British Empire created havoc and destruction in almost every colony they landed. From India, Palestine, Ceylon, Yemen, the Caribbean islands, and many African nations, the Empire went on to loot these nations of their national treasures. And there is good evidence that the British Empire was responsible for untold atrocities in Africa and India. Wherever the British went, they expropriated land and natural resources and enriched themselves at no expense. 

To make matters worse, when the natives disagreed with the British rule, they were summarily executed. In India alone, millions died as a result of British policies. Indian economist Utsa Patnaik estimates that in India alone, the British robbed the nation of $45 trillion between 1765 and 1938. 

And the British enslaved populations and shipped millions of individuals across the oceans to be sold as slaves. Of course, later on, it led the way to abolish the slave trade—but the damage was done. When the British did remain in the colonies, they took away land and forced the previous owners to work for subsistence wages forcing them into poverty.

The carnage caused by the British Empire is only just beginning to appear. As the British crossed the different oceans, they spread their techniques of repression far and wide. And although the British did bring economic development, it was temporary and only to suit their own interest. With that in mind, the pomp and prestige of the British Royalties is not a cause for celebration.

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