Queen Elizabeth and the Burden of Monarchy, By Saratu Abubakar
NEWS DIGEST – I can’t pinpoint my first memory of being aware of the Queen. Maybe it was in primary 5 when our common entrance preparatory teacher forced Nigerian history down our throats or it could be earlier.
However, at some point, I knew there was an existing monarch in the United Kingdom that is recognized worldwide and pre-republic she was the Nigerian Head of State.
70 years later after Queen Elizabeth II ascended the throne, she passed away at the age of 96 peacefully in Balmoral Castle Scotland.
When I saw the news, my first thought was that 70 years is a long time to be in power. I wonder though if aside from being a queen she had the opportunity to explore her wants, to just be a regular human.
There have been different ways to describe this exit, for me though, it is the “end of an era.” The end of an era because in my lifetime, that of my parents, no one has ruled for that long.
The end of an era because I doubt I will be alive when it would be the turn of a female again to rule. The end of an era because she has lived through what a lot of us term as history.
Whether we see her as a perpetrator of colonialism or just a regular woman that ruled for 70 years, she was an icon.
As a Nigerian, the seat of that monarch means a lot of things including the symbol of colonialism. The Queen might not have made the rules or had the final say but when push comes to shove before we got independence she was our head of state. And the leader of the colonial masters.
Stepping away from being an icon though, I wonder what her life was as a person, just Elizabeth without the Queen title and the gemstone studded crown on her head.
What was she like as a woman, a mother, a grandmother? Her pet peeves, her quirks, and mannerism.
I respect people that answer the call to serve either their country or their states as monarchs but I always wonder how they do it.
Having to give up your life as you know it and plunge into structured chaos cannot be easy. There is almost no privacy in royalty, having people at your beck and call can be nice but not being able to draw the line must be hard.
Are they even allowed to express their emotions? Can they have a day off just because they are not in the mood? How do they deal with private matters? These and more are questions I wish I can ask a monarch.
Recently, in Nigeria, people that have lived abroad their whole lives have been called back home to ascend the throne because of their lineage. And I wonder how they managed the change.
Imagine living your individualistic life, having privacy, engaging in things you want, and one day by the virtue of bloodline, you are called upon and you have to keep everything aside and answer, it must be tough.
Even if not because of how demanding it is but giving up your life, all your wants and aspirations to live by a rule book of royalty must have its bad days.
But then that is the thing about duty, when it calls, you have to answer.
Some people though haven’t been able to manage the demands.
We have seen the case of Harry and Meghan, as much as there are a lot of underlining issues beyond royalty but adjusting to royalty after coming from the limelight as an actress was not easy for Meghan. Things got tough and eventually she and Harry made the tough decision of leaving royal duties.
At the end of the day, beyond the crown, beyond the title, I hope Queen Elizabeth lived a wholesome life, I hope those that are still on the throne find time to do things they love and I hope those that abdicated are happy with their choice.