The United Kingdom, the Commonwealth, and the rest of the world have said their final farewells to Queen Elizabeth II, a woman who dominated the global sphere of royalty and politics.
There is no doubt that the late monarch commanded the respect of leaders from around the world and her subjects in the UK and the realms.
It can be argued that her high favourability ratings had less to do with the station she held and more to do with how she performed her role. The Queen was consistent in her approach to thorny political and social issues and was even credited with influencing political leaders into adjusting their position on matters following private meetings with Her Majesty.
But Queen Elizabeth’s seven decade long reign on the British throne was one of contradictions. For though she served with grace and supported many worthy charities and causes, many in former colonies ask whether that was enough?
With the Queen’s death, intense debate and controversy have been triggered about the role of the monarchy, its relative silence on many social justice issues including race, the monarchy’s role in the horrific slave trade, its colonial past, the need for reparations, and the absence of an official apology to descendants of the enslaved.
The reactions to the Most Honourable Anthony Gabby Carter’s poem about the late Queen have ranged from outbursts and condemnation, to support and praise for his forthrightness. What the furor has also demonstrated is the raw emotion that exists from a still unsettled matter that is centuries old.
“To help bring reparations
To any Caribbean land
She stood in silence,” Gabby wrote.
The legendary calypsonian has never been shy with his pen and we should not have been surprised by his brutal and cutting works. It is what poets and writers have been doing for hundreds of years and Gabby has been prolific in his anti-establishment stance.
The Queen has departed and there is a new King on the throne. The push for reparations is likely to continue and should be supported. However, in the meantime, we in Barbados must carry on and confront the everyday, bread and butter issues of life.
The Royals will do what they need to ensure their continued place of prominence in British society, and we should not be overly distracted by such shiny objects.
The reality of a weakened British economy, rapidly rising food, gas and electricity as winter approaches, as well as interest rate hikes will soon knock the spark from the eyes of Britons who are still mesmerized by their new King.
We too in Barbados must come to terms with the fact that more of our citizens are finding it extremely to make ends meet.
The decision of the Fair Trading Commission this week to grant a preliminary rate increase to the Barbados Light & Power Company has been met with outrage from some Barbadians. Others have resigned themselves to an inevitable attack on their dwindling disposable income.
The most recent figures from the Barbados Statistical Service point to an increasing unemployment rate, which had experienced a spectacular recovery from the highs of 40 per cent during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021.
There is no hiding from the fact that more people are requiring and seeking assistance from state agencies, charities, and other organisations because their financial state has deteriorated significantly.
State-operated agencies are being called on by a rising number of people, who in previous years would have gawked with repulsion at the idea of turning to government welfare.
Yes, we want the royal family, the British Government and all the beneficiaries of slavery to atone in some way for the years of exploitation of our people and our lands.
In the meantime, however, citizens also want action from our own administrators to ameliorate the economic conditions causing pain and anxiety in households across Barbados.