I have been pondering the fascination by many people for Queen Elizabeth’s death and by the recent visit by the Catholic Pope.
What is interesting to me is that there are so many Atheists or Humanists who absolutely hate the Catholic Pope for his religious power, but are either neutral, kind of dislike, or love the British Queen.
What is the difference between the two? The British Queen and the Catholic Pope both perpetuated and continue to propagate the myth of a benevolent monarch and a loving religious institution. Queen Elizabeth was also head of the Anglican church which had abused many children in residential schools here in Canada.
The Queen’s paternalistic name was the Queen Mother and the Pope used similar language of being the Father. They both hijacked familial naming to confer artificial respect for their status of being divine and royal.
Queen Elizabeth and family inherited their enormous wealth not from working on a farm picking apples, but from stealing the wealth from the Global South and North America. In fact, in India alone it is estimated that the Brits stole around 45 trillion dollars between 1765 to 1938.
The British Empire stripped away the dignity of many people around the world, stole their wealth and then expected that the royalty be treated with respect by the very people who had been pillaged by them.
In her lifetime during the period of decolonization of the 50’s to the 70’s, Queen Elizabeth had no choice but to attend the independence ceremonies of many countries that had been part of the British empire. She personally then promoted the idea that the Commonwealth was an association that was created on the highest qualities of the Spirit of Man: friendship, loyalty, and the desire for freedom and peace.
However, the real reason the Commonwealth was created was to boost trade between a bankrupt England after World War 2 and it’s previous colonial subjects. It was assembled to preserve and project British importance in trade and economic benefit when British influence was waning. What would England be if it did not project their continued importance to their former ‘subjects’? What would Rome be?
The Commonwealth disseminated a Western capitalistic theory and education system that was Christian based and entitled those learning from English schools a better footing in government positions in previously held colonial countries.
An English education system in post colonial countries ensured sympathetic government policies with their previous colonial captors. England needed and wanted it’s former ‘subjects’ to believe that Western economic theories and trade was better for them… better to form alliances with your former captor than other countries that had French colonial masters. The benevolent monarch with all its pomp and circumstance streamlined the transition during the decolonial period with leaders that spoke and aligned with their values.
If one examines Queen Elizabeth’s behaviour of visiting countries and the Pope’s similar visits where throngs of people come out with awe and fascination of royalty and divinity, it reminds me of the Stockholm Syndrome.
Stockholm syndrome is a condition in which hostages develop a psychological bond with their captors during captivity. It results from a rather specific set of circumstances, namely the power imbalances contained in hostage-taking, kidnapping, and abusive relationship.
I understand why believers love the Pope, but I don’t understand why Atheists or Humanists hate the Pope but are neutral to the Queen. They both represent the same abusive power imbalances of religion and privilege.
by Nina George