The Collegian
Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Grief and scorn arise among UR students after Queen Elizabeth’s death

<p>Photo Courtesy of Phoenix Silkensen.</p>

Photo Courtesy of Phoenix Silkensen.

Queen Elizabeth II, the longest reigning monarch in British history, died on Sep. 8. As queen, she was the head of state for all of the United Kingdom (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland). 

With her funeral on Sept. 19, The Collegian reached out to several students to get their perspectives and observations during this historic moment for the monarchy, the United Kingdom and the greater Commonwealth.

Freshman Gurbani Makar, an international student from the U.K., told The Collegian, “The minute I found out that Queen Elizabeth had died, my heart sank, which was strange because I’d never really been an active enthusiast of the British Monarchy.”  

Disapproval towards the monarchy and its history, yet a general affection for the Queen Elizabeth has been a common sentiment of the past week. Recent polls echo Makar’s comments, with a survey taken by Reuters indicating just 53% of adults aged 25-49 supported keeping the monarchy. A poll taken by Ipsos showed that the wider British population supported Queen Elizabeth, who held an 86% satisfaction rate in May of this year.

“It marked the end of an era,” Makar said. “It’s just weird and unusual to think that she’s not there anymore.”

Senior Mason Manley, another international student from the U.K., signified his lack of a strong emotional reaction.

“I’m indifferent personally,” he said. “I don’t think the monarchy will last much longer, especially considering the new [Prime Minister] has been openly anti-monarchy.”

UR students studying in the U.K. this fall also hold a unique perspective, as their semester abroad has begun with a seismic shift in British society.

Sam Mitze, a junior studying abroad in London, emphasized how prevalent the state of mourning in Britain’s capital city was.

“The lines to get into Westminster to pay respects or even just lay flowers are hours and hours long,” she said.

Junior Makena Gitobu, an international student from Kenya — a country that is part of the Commonwealth and a former British territory — expressed her frustration with the 10 days of events occurring from the queen's death to her funeral. 

“I personally think that all the additional fanfare around the queen’s passing is counterproductive,” she said. 

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Eva Vanatta, another junior studying abroad in the U.K. this semester at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, highlighted the school’s recent actions in regards to Her Majesty’s death, citing how Monday classes were canceled. 

“No one seemed to care at all. I was quite flabbergasted,” she said. 

Sophomore Nandini Raisurana is an international student from the Commonwealth's largest country: India. She is also the program director for the South Asian Student Alliance.

“While the Queen's death has undoubtedly caused sadness and grief, it has allowed me to reflect on what the British monarchy symbolizes as a whole. It represents an institution that gained wealth and prominence by stealing from and oppressing its colonies, particularly those in South Asia and Africa,” she said.

Raisurana echoed what many have demanded from the modern British monarchy, and what many hope to see under King Charles’ reign.

“I think it is time for the world to recognize this history and for Britain to pay their due reparations,” she said. 

Contact international writer Derek Gilmore at derek.gilmore@richmond.edu.

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