The British monarchy…warts and all


As the Platinum Jubilee weekend continues in Britain, one of the best reflections on the reign of the monarchy is Adam Ramsay’s openDemocracy piece.

It sets out to explain that “the Caribbean isn’t the only place ready to ditch the [British] royal family”.  And it does this in spades by illustrating some basic truths, lamentable as they are, about the Britain’s monarchy. These include the following ugly fact: that “the Royal African Company shipped more enslaved African people to America than any other institution.”

This is a shocker for many people, who wouldn’t have known that a royal entrepreneurial project was founded on something as soulless and heartless as people trafficking. Mr Ramsay writes that the Royal African Company was “a personal venture of Charles II and his brother, the Duke of York.”

That royal business was conducted as follows: “[It] often used hot metal to burn the initials DoY, for ‘Duke of York’, into their victims’ skin. By 1683, England – primarily the royals’ family firm – was responsible for 74% of transatlantic people trafficking.”

To be fair, the current queen and her family can hardly be expected to carry the can for their ancestors’ behaviour. These are not pleasant reflections as Britain marks 70 years of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II but they do have the virtue of being fact.