Her Majesty Elizabeth II, queen of the United Kingdom, died on Thursday and news of the monarch’s death became the top story all around the world. On Twitter the reactions ranged from weepy hagiography to the real truths of the destructive impact of British colonialism and imperialism under her reign. NBA champion Mychal Thompson had an interesting take on the queen’s death.
Oh man…Sad news today…The 2nd Greatest Queen in histry, Elizabeth died today…The 1st Greatest? Cmon…yall know…ARETHA!!
— Mychal Thompson (@champagnennuts) September 8, 2022
For context Thompson is a native of the Bahamas. The Bahamas, officially known as The Commonwealth of the Bahamas, is country within the Lucayan Archipelago of the West Indies in the Atlantic. It is part of the Commonwealth of Nations which are former territories of the British Empire.
Why does that history matter?
It might provide us with some insight into why Thompson tweeted what he did and how people that are native to Commonwealth Nations might feel about the passing of their sovereign.
As to the tweet itself, it was pretty tame compared to a lot of the stuff that’s been circulating around Twitter. Calling Elizabeth II the second greatest queen behind Aretha Franklin, “the queen of soul,” isn’t that bad. Have y’all heard Aretha sing? Her voice stirs and moves you in ways few can.
Some people can see it as disrespect. Comparing a monarch with a musical artist. But this is no ordinary artist. Franklin is one of the greatest of all time. Surely, it’s an honor for Elizabeth II to be mentioned in the same breath, right?
Thompson, the father of Golden State Warriors four-time champion Klay Thompson, was being coy with his tweet. As a Bahamian he likely has serious thoughts about the monarchy, British colonialism and imperialism. The death of the sovereign likely brought up a lot of those feelings.
A monarchy is a form of government that should be abolished. It’s mostly ceremonial in the U.K., but its presence still represents a class divide and an era that was not beneficial for the masses.
Elizabeth II was a human being who had people she loved and that loved her. In her death we can feel empathy and sympathy for her friends, family, and loved ones.
Elizabeth II was the longest reigning female head of state and took a position that she inherited when her father King George VI died in 1952 and handled it as gracefully as possible. We can respect her for that.
Elizabeth II was also the head of an empire that practiced colonialism and actively tried to stop independence movements to keep newly independent colonies from leaving the commonwealth.
There is a reason English is the most spoken language in the world. Elizabeth II did not invent or create colonialism and imperialism. But as sovereign she maintained and propped up those systems.
All of these things about Elizabeth II can be true at once.
The sports world joined other around the world in acknowledging the death of Elizabeth II. The U.S. Open held a moment of silence before the women’s semifinal matches on Thursday. The NFL held a moment of silence before the Thursday Night Football season opener between the Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Rams.
The Premiere League, England’s top football (soccer) league, has suspended league play following the death of Elizabeth II. The entire U.K. has entered a period of national mourning set to last for 10 days.