UK Queen interested in empire era

The British Queen Elizabeth II seems to have happy memories of the island’s empire era and its conquest.

Last year in September, a committee of the British House of Commons opened an inquiry, under which the word “Empire” would be replaced with “Excellence” in the five major ranks of the royal medals, including Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE), Knight Commander or Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE or DBE), and Knight Grand Cross or Dame Grand Cross of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (GBE).

The designers of the plan, including Republican Labour MP Paul Flynn, said that the word “Empire” is originally an outdated “relic” of the “jingoism of a country at war”.

Although the move was met by strong opposition from some of the Conservatives in the UK Parliament, its effect was so great that the Queen intervened herself and called for any changes in the titles of the honours to be dealt after her reign when her son Prince Charles ascends the throne.

Apparently, the word “Empire” was so dear to the Queen that she preferred to stop such a move even before it gets serious in the Parliament.

The Queen has a direct personal link to the Empire: her father, George VI, was the last Emperor of India, losing the title in 1947 when the country was granted independence.

This is while many citizens of the Commonwealth countries have a mixed look of resentment and aversion at such titles.

Among those who have received the Knight Commander of the British Empire names such as Donald Charles Cameron colonial administrator of Nigeria, William Manning colonial governor of Jamaica and William Peel colonial administrator of Hong Kong could be found.

Benjamin Zephaniah, a British Jamaican poet, publicly rejected an OBE in 2003 because it reminded him of “thousands of years of brutality”. Referring to the honour connection with the idea of the British Empire, he said, “IT reminds me of how my foremothers were raped and my forefathers brutalized.”

Appointments to the Order are made on recommendation of the Minister of Defence, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, and the appropriate Minister of State for Commonwealth countries in respect of the military division, and the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in respect of the civil division.

This could be further evidence of the impact of Britain’s foreign policy and its old colonial structure in granting titles to servants of the Queen.

SSM/HE