The Guardian • Issue #2026

Why are we having this day of mourning?

On the 22nd September as thousands of people took to the streets in other capital cities around Australia to protest the monarchy, I sat at home in an inner suburb of Adelaide wondering how I could also stand in protest against the archaic remnants of the feudal system that still hangs over Australia like a shadowed hand reaching out through time. As a last-minute decision, I grabbed a scrap piece of paper, wrote three words on it with a black marker, jumped on my bike and rode into the Adelaide CBD – finding myself only thirty minutes later being dragged out of government house by three policemen and subsequently surrounded by cameras and journalists. Over the next few hours and following days, my one-man protest had been shared not only on local and national news but by international publications.

Sentiments varied from one person to the next, from those who applauded to those that believed I should be “locked up” and “tried for treason.”

“This isn’t the time” was a sentiment I’ve seen repeated over and over not only to my actions, but to all those that protested around Australia on that so called “national day of mourning,” but what better time is there than when the country is paying attention to the issues at hand? What better time is there than when the average worker, tired from upholding a system that overwhelmingly benefits a small minority of capitalists have a day off and time to spare to actively think about their country and what it stands for? On any other day, there would have been no media attention, and little-to-no public debate.

And why are we having this day of mourning for a monarch who sat upon a throne stained with the crimes of colonialism and claims the title of Australia’s head of state whilst not even an Australian citizen anyway? Where is the day of mourning for the millions of First Nations people who had their families massacred, their lands stolen, and their histories erased which directly helped to fund the royal family’s outrageously lavish lifestyle? There is none – and quite the contrary, Australia continues to celebrate a public holiday on the day that marks the beginning of this country’s genocidal and bloody history.

In 2008, the newly elected prime minister Kevin Rudd apologised for the stolen generation, a very small gesture towards one part of Australia’s dark colonial history. To this date, there has been no apology made by the royal family for the heinous crimes committed in their name towards Aboriginal Australians.

Obviously, Australia is not alone in British colonial history and the crimes that were committed. “The sun never sets on the British empire” and every British colony under that same sun was born from bloodshed, theft, and destruction. The list of countries, nations and peoples that suffered immeasurably at the hands of the tyrannical British empire is enormous and every life lost deserves justice and the honour of remembrance.

To those who claim that Elizabeth did not cause the horrors inflicted on the world by her family, I could not put it in better words than Irish Republican and Socialist revolutionary James Connolly’s response to King George V’s visit to Ireland in 1911:

“We will not blame him for the crimes of his ancestors if he relinquishes the royal rights of his ancestors; but as long as he claims their rights, by virtue of descent, then, by virtue of descent, he must shoulder the responsibility for their crimes.”

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