Anyone who knows Caribbean leaders, whether Presidents or Prime Ministers, should also know not to expect them to say or do anything outside of paying ‘full respect’ to Queen Elizabeth II after her death and before she’s buried.
They’ll simply say nothing that can even be misinterpreted as being disrespectful of the Commonwealth’s constitutional Head-of-State while joining others in the region and beyond, to officially observe the mourning customs dictated by centuries-old traditions when British monarchs die.
Caribbean leaders won’t be seen kicking someone who’s fallen, or dwell only on the negative aspects of a dead person’s character while the family mourns – no matter who.
It’s like going to the neighbourhood matriarch’s ‘wake’ and being verbally abusive about her time on earth while family and friends shed and share tears – just pure ‘Bad Manners’ by any standards of human decency in Caribbean societies.
Critics in the Caribbean, the UK and everywhere else – as is also their right — have been pouring buckets of ice-cold water on the departed monarch’s legacy even before it ends, even before her burial starts.
Gladly, regional leaders have refrained from joining the belated chorus of criticisms of the late British monarch and Commonwealth head because they’re better schooled in the mannerisms of international diplomacy, but there are simply too many Caribbean citizens everywhere, big and small, simply behaving like they just couldn’t have waited for the queen to kick her bucket.
There’s a patent misunderstanding of the role of the Royal Family she headed and its relationship with and powers over the British Government (or lack thereof), in a nation built on traditions and with laws but without a Constitution — and which bequeaths said laws to its outgoing colonies at independence, tying them down to Britain’s apron strings and shoelaces by making it difficult, if not near-impossible, for the new nations to thereafter freely decide to change their Courts of Appeal, or amend the Constitutions handed down by Her Majesty.
It also underlines the general lack of sufficient understanding today of who current Governors-General of independent Caribbean nations serve, as Heads-of-State representing the Queen (now the King), even though he or she was nominated by the nation’s elected Head-of-Government.
It’s been happening for so long (since the advent of the age of independence six decades ago) that too many Caribbean citizens still don’t realise our parliamentarians, elected and appointed in the Upper and Lower Houses, in Commonwealth member-states that still haven’t proceeded to republicanism status, still cannot meet and decide on taking decisions in the name of the people who elected or selected them, without first individually pledging, on taking their original Oaths of Office and annually renewing at the start of each new session, their collective ‘loyalty’ to ‘Her Majesty the Queen’ and all her heirs and successors.
Ditto an understanding that membership of the Commonwealth comes with accepting the King or Queen remaining just that – until and unless constitutionally removed by the nation.
One of the many surviving colonial nightmares staring the Caribbean in the face every day is many still having the likes of a ‘Royal’ police forces and publishing ‘Royal Gazettes’.
And most still measure national beachfront property by the ‘Queen’s Chain’ — and taking offence to it being leased to ‘foreigners’ for ‘one dollar per acre for 99 years’ – and wanting to die, if and/or when told we can’t bathe on a ‘hotel’s beachfront property’.
Indeed, with over two-thirds of the region’s population born after independence and grown up in the crosscurrents between ‘imperial’ and ‘metric’ measurements, few might know (without consulting Mr Google) what’s really the ‘chain’ being referred to as belonging to the queen, or how long it is, by whatever yardstick – or even knowing what ‘a yardstick’ is — or a yard.
Not that the late queen was without warts, or sins of commission or omission, as the longest-serving head of the oldest and richest Royal Family that was responsible for committing the cardinal and moral sins of starting the TransAtlantic Slave Trade that declared Humans property and built an empire on Chattel Slavery, which the United Nations (UN) has declared the worst Crime Against Humanity known to Humankind – bar none.
She deserved every related criticism while alive as Head of the Royal Family for the past seven decades – both for what she was responsible for approving and allowing in her name and for those she inherited from all previous British monarchs.
For example, I would not hold anything at all against the Right Honourable Mighty Gabby for penning how he feels about the queen in a poem he wrote after she died — and I think those asking him to apologise are simply out of place.
I also understand those who go that extra mile to show just how much they know about the history of the British monarchy, how many sins it’s committed, how many countries its invaded and even the only 22 it hasn’t.
I would also not hold it against any Caribbean leader who would say anything not in consonance with the general views expressed, but I know of none that has so far.
Nor have I heard or seen government leaders showing any intent to forget the only queen they all grew up knowing just because she’s dead and now only being interested in how good or bad a king her son will be.
Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders in the eight member-states that still have the British monarch as Head-of-State have all been asked whether they’ll now lead their countries to become republics, as if that has anything to do with who is King or Queen.
Most have evaded answering and (I suspect) for the same reasons advanced earlier: that it’s not a Caribbean custom to attend one’s wake and cuss their character while the family mourns or attend one’s funeral and throw stones on the coffin while being lowered.
This is just not who we (Caribbean people) are.