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Five Ways the Monarchy has Benefited from Colonialism and Slavery

Five Ways the Monarchy has Benefited from Colonialism and Slavery

Paul Lovelace / Alamy Stock Photo The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s tour of the Caribbean for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee has been criticised over the royals’ connection to colonialism and slavery. An open letter by Jamaican public figures says: “We see no reason to celebrate 70 years of the ascension of your grandmother to the British throne because her leadership, and that of her predecessors, has perpetuated the greatest human rights tragedy in the history of humankind.” But what has the monarchy got to do with slavery and colonialism? How has it benefited from these systems of exploitation and expropriation?  1. Funding slavery voyages The British monarchy was central to the establishment, expansion, and maintenance of the British empire and the transatlantic slave trade. The declaration of English empire was first made by Henry VIII in 1532. Elizabeth I granted a royal charter (an instrument of incorporation) to Sir John Hawkins, widely considered one of the first English traders to profit from the slave trade. She also granted a charter to the British East India Company in 1600. After Elizabeth’s death, Charles II formed the Royal African Company in 1660, led by the Duke of York (later James II), which extracted goods such as gold and ivory from the Gold Coast, and transported over 3,000 Africans to Barbados. Many of these people had the initials “DY” burned into their skin to signify their belonging to the Duke of York. Both men invested private funds in the company. Queen Victoria assumed the title of Empress of India in 1877, and by 1920 the empire was 13.71 million square miles. The British monarch’s global significance and power stemmed directly from the enslavement of people of colour. 2. The Commonwealth The Commonwealth is an organisation of 52 “independent and equal” member states. Despite this “independent” claim, the Commonwealth has imperial origins. Many of the member states are former colonies of the British empire, and Commonwealth expert Philip Murphy describes the way imperial became Commonwealth as “haphazard”. The Commonwealth emerged from post-WWII decolonisation, as a means of reassuring the British public that the demise of empire would not diminish Britain’s global prestige.  The Queen is head of the Commonwealth, and Prince Charles was appointed as her successor in 2018. But the position is not hereditary, and there is no constitutional or statutory reason why Charles would take this role. The role of head of the Commonwealth allows the monarch to continue their position of international privilege and influence, which stems from colonial histories. The Queen on a royal visit to Jamaica in 2002. REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo 3. The Queen as head of state The London Declaration, 1949, which addressed India’s position in the Commonwealth as a republic, set the precedent for Commonwealth countries to adopt republicanism. But today, 15 remain constitutional monarchies with Elizabeth II as head of state, including Caribbean islands like Jamaica, South American countries like Belize, African states like Ghana, and Canada and Australia. Since 1842, each country has nominated a local governor general as the Queen’s representative, with the power to propose legislation, (dis)prove bills and dissolve parliament. Although the Queen has no “direct” political control in these realms, governor generals could be interpreted as ongoing monarchical administrative power. Many of these countries, including Australia, Jamaica, Grenada, Saint Lucia and Tuvalu still use “God Save the Queen/King” as the national or royal anthem. As sociologist Ty Salandy argues, such cultural texts were used during empire to instil British values and subservience to colonial authority, and their continued use suggests a similar system of values. In 2021, Barbados removed the queen as head of state, officially becoming a republic but remaining part of the Commonwealth. There are reports that Jamaica is planning to do the same after the royal visit. 4. Property, land and goods Following the National Trust’s report into histories of slavery and colonialism in its properties, the chief curator of Historic Royal Palaces, Lucy Worsley, announced a similar investigation into royal palaces in 2020. Worsley said that all properties used by the Stuart dynasty in the 17th century were “going to have an element of money derived from slavery” within them. This includes Kensington Palace and Hampton Court Palace, which have connections to King William III, another part owner of the Royal African Company. Queen Alexandra’s crown bore the Koh-i-Noor diamond. AF Fotografie / Alamy Stock Photo This is not to mention goods now owned by the monarchy that were stolen during colonisation, such as the Koh-i-Noor diamond from India used in the Crown Jewels, which Pakistan and India have repeatedly asked to be returned. The lack of transparency regarding what the Crown owns versus the Queen’s personal effects makes it even harder to trace these histories.  5. ‘Our great imperial family’ In a speech in 1947 in South Africa, then-Princess Elizabeth declared she would devote her life to “service of our great imperial family to which we all belong”. The concept of an “imperial family” reflects the idea of the British monarchy as empire’s figurehead, vested in ideologies of white supremacy and colonialism.  This idea also plays a role in royal international visits. Royal visits have historically had colonialist implications by portraying the royal as a white saviour. Media scholar Raka Shome discusses how Diana became a symbol of this in photographs of her playing with and caring for black children in Africa. We can perhaps see this playing out again this week in images of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge shaking hands with Jamaican residents through wire fencing.  Such visits attempt to rewrite colonial and imperial histories through discourses of philanthropy and global community, with the royals as “head” of the global family. It is, in essence, good PR. A new chapter? This only scratches the surface of the monarchy’s connections to colonialism and imperialism. As the PNP Women’s Movement, a Jamaican movement advocating for women and girls, wrote in the Jamaican Observer: “We were beaten and broken into believing that our purpose as a nation was to cater to yours.” This is not least in the fact that, as they say, roads were resurfaced and hospitals were cleaned in preparation for the royal visit this week, rather than years earlier for the impoverished black communities who use them every day.  In a speech in Jamaica, Prince William expressed “profound sorrow” over slavery which “forever stains our history”. He stopped short, however, of acknowledging the monarchy’s role in that history, an institution from which he continues to benefit. In the wake of global movements against racism and colonialism, perhaps it’s finally time for the monarchy to reckon with its history.
Will and Kate’s colonial nostalgia tour is about more than disastrous photo-ops

Will and Kate’s colonial nostalgia tour is about more than disastrous photo-ops

Kehinde Andrews is professor of Black Studies at Birmingham City University and the author of the book "The New Age of Empire: How Racism and Colonialism Still Rule the World." The opinions in this article belong to the author. View more opinion on CNN. (CNN)The torrential downpour that greeted Will and Kate in the Bahamas on Friday was the perfectly fitting end to their Caribbean excursion. If ever there was a parade that needed raining on, it was the couple's colonial nostalgia tour.  Whilst Caribbean countries are demanding reparations and finally deposing the British monarch as the head of state, the future King and his wife thought it was fitting to recreate a scene from 1962, with William in full military dress waving from an open top Land Rover. Talk about not being able to read the room.  But we should expect nothing less from a couple so sculpted by their royal duties that when they awkwardly posed with a lifesize model of Bob Marley at a museum on Tuesday it was almost impossible to tell who was the statue.  Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge visit Trench Town Culture Yard Museum where Bob Marley lived.  It really is testament to the unrepentant conservatism of the royal family that Harry and Meghan have opted out, while Will and Kate are wrapped in royal linen. But for this we should be eternally grateful.  Meghan laid out the dystopian vision of her and Harry being sent out as ambassadors to the former colonies to modernize the image of the monarchy. It makes my stomach churn to imagine the adulation that might have greeted the black princess and her husband visiting the Caribbean.  The problem isn't the disastrous photo-ops, which are so horrendous they evolved from offensive to farcical. Will's grandmother wears gloves to shield her from the masses, whilst he and Kate greet children through a chain link fence.  But the real issue is the monarchy itself, which is an institution that should have been run out of the Caribbean centuries ago. There are no better representatives of the true nature of the monarchy than Will and Kate, who Marley would likely have branded 'stiff necked fools.' Queen Elizabeth I endorsed England's first forays into the slave trade that turned the population of the Caribbean black, through kidnap of countless African people. The Royal African Company, which had a monopoly over the English trade until giving way to the free market, is the business responsible for enslaving more Africans than any other.  The royal family is swimming in money made from the exploitation of African flesh in a region which is still languishing in poverty due to the same legacies. We often imagine that the end of slavery meant the dawn of freedom. But while the slave owners received the largest government transfer of wealth in British history, the formerly enslaved were forced to work for free for three quarters of their time between 1834 and 1838, and left in grinding poverty depending on the same landowners who had enslaved them.   The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in a Land Rover in Jamaica last week. And Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh in 1962. As colonies the Caribbean nations were pillaged for resources and left underdeveloped. It is estimated the UK owes its former colonies £7.5 trillion ($9.8 trillion) in unpaid labor and traumatic damages. When Britain needed labor after the Second World War, the Caribbean answered the call and many moved to the mother country seeking opportunities unavailable to them at home.  The result of seeing so many 'darkies' in Britain was to try to keep Britain white by limiting immigration from the Empire. But the Caribbean was just as integral a part of the nation as the north of England.  I recently found the passport my dad traveled on to Britain from Jamaica in 1960. I only knew it wasn't a regular British passport because the word Jamaica was on the front, and had a lower status. The Caribbean is the British equivalent of the American South -- the only difference is an ocean that means Britain can pretend these are foreign countries they bear no responsibility for.  It is no coincidence that the Commonwealth Immigrants Act that sparked the anti-immigration legislation we are seeing in full effect today was signed into law in 1962, the same year that the two largest British colonies in the Caribbean -- Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago -- became independent.  For some of the founding fathers of the US, the most desirable solution to the so-called race problem caused by emancipation was to deport the formerly enslaved Africans back to Africa. Britain just needed to keep us on the prison islands they had created.  Independence was always a farce as the economies of the Caribbean remain dominated by the former empires. The region is kept afloat in part by tourism, which depends on friendly relations with the countries who are rich enough for the citizens to afford exclusive beach holidays.  But remittances are the most important part of many Caribbean economies, the money sent back from those who have migrated out. The Caribbean is entirely dependent on exploiting nations to survive, to the extent that the island region is even a net importer of fish!  The farcical nature of the royal visit brought to mind the time in 1985 when the Queen visited Antigua and they only paved the roads she would be driving around to see her loyal subjects. Even after independence, the Caribbean nation was still kowtowing to the royal family. Thankfully there have been protests marking the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's visit, with the couple having to cancel a trip to a village in Belize after the residents demonstrated and both the nation and Jamaica indicating they want to remove the British monarch as head of state.  But such calls are way too little and far too late -- the fact this is even up for debate in 2022 reveals the rotten state of the situation. Likewise, disbanding the Commonwealth, headed by the Queen, obviously makes sense but only because of how absurd it is that the former colonies joined the rebrand of empire in the first place.  The British Empire, sorry, Commonwealth Games will be held in my hometown of Birmingham, England this summer and whilst we should be lying across the streets in protest, we are busy celebrating. We have somehow arrived at a place where William can go to the Caribbean and express 'profound sorrow' for slavery without apologizing, let alone taking some responsibility.  Unfortunately, there are plenty of smiling natives happy to line the streets and salute all that the royals represent and the region remains in thrall to the mother country. In 2015, Prime Minister David Cameron caused an uproar when he told the Jamaican parliament it was time to "move on" from slavery, rejected calls for reparations and instead offered to help build a state-of-the-art prison so that Britain could more easily deport Jamaican nationals.  A big show was made of the nation rejecting the proposal, but five years later they announced not only that the prison would be built but Jamaica is footing the bill. I'm not sure this is what first national hero Marcus Garvey had in mind when he advocated self-help.  So, for all the noise we have heard after the disastrous royal visit we should not expect any meaningful change. The absurdity of the situation means that Caribbean nations cannot rock the boat too hard or it will capsize.
100 Jamaican Individuals and Organisations Sign Open Letter to William and Kate Ahead of their Visit

100 Jamaican Individuals and Organisations Sign Open Letter to William and Kate Ahead of their Visit

Open Letter to Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Dear William and Kate: We note with great concern your visit to our country Jamaica, during a period when we are still in the throes of a global pandemic and bracing for the full impact of another global crisis associated with the Russian/Ukraine war. Many Jamaicans are unaware of your visit as they struggle to cope with the horrendous fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, exacerbated by pre-existing social and economic hardships inherited from our colonial past. We also note that your visit is part of the celebrations to mark the 70th Anniversary (Platinum Jubilee) of the Coronation of your grandmother and the 60th Anniversary of Jamaica’s Independence. We see no reason to celebrate 70 years of the ascension of your grandmother to the British throne because her leadership, and that of her predecessors, have perpetuated the greatest human rights tragedy in the history of humankind. Her ascension to the throne, in February 1952, took place 14 years after the 1938 labour uprisings against inhumane working/living conditions and treatment of workers; painful legacies of plantation slavery, which persist today. During her 70 years on the throne, your grandmother has done nothing to redress and atone for the suffering of our ancestors that took place during her reign and/or during the entire period of British trafficking of Africans, enslavement, indentureship and colonialization. In fact, on September 30, 2015 former Prime Minister (PM) David Cameron addressed a joint sitting of both houses of the Jamaican Parliament, and told us to “move on from this painful legacy,” merely acknowledging the “horrors of slavery” and asserting British leadership in the abolition of slavery. Many of us were outraged and demanded an apology through several open letters by former PM PJ Patterson, Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, and University of Technology, Jamaica professionals, as well as newspaper articles, including one by Dr Henley Morgan.[1] We still await an apology for the offensive and insensitive statements. We have not forgotten! As Cameron correctly noted: “these wounds run very deep.” We, therefore, will not participate in your Platinum Jubilee celebration! We will, however, celebrate 60 years of freedom from British colonial domination. We are saddened that more progress has not been made given the burden of our colonial inheritance. We nonetheless celebrate the many achievements of great Jamaicans who rejected negative, colonial self-concepts and who self-confidently succeeded against tremendous odds. We will also remember and celebrate our freedom fighters, including our National Heroes, who bravely fought against British tyrannical rule and abominable human rights abuses. We welcome you to join this celebration. You, who may one day lead the British Monarchy, are direct beneficiaries of the wealth accumulated by the Royal family over centuries, including that stemming from the trafficking and enslavement of Africans. You therefore have the unique opportunity to redefine the relationship between the British Monarchy and the people of Jamaica. If you choose to do so, we urge you to start with an apology and recognition of the need for atonement and reparations. There are many reasons why we see this is an important and necessary way forward for you both and the generations to come. We have attached a list of only sixty (60) reasons in commemoration of our 60 years of freedom from British colonialization. We urge you to reflect carefully on these 60 reasons why you should apologize and begin a process of reparatory justice. It is unconscionable that enslavers have been compensated under the Slave Compensation Act (1837), with some payments converted into 3.5% government annuities which lasted until 2015, yet to date there has been no compensation paid to the descendants of enslaved Africans. We are of the view that an apology for British crimes against humanity, including but not limited to, the exploitation of the indigenous people of Jamaica, the transatlantic trafficking of Africans, the enslavement of Africans, indentureship and colonialization, is necessary to begin a process of healing, forgiveness, reconciliation and compensation. We encourage you to act accordingly and just “sey yuh sorry!” Boldly lead a youthful generation in the hope that it is possible to create a future where: “the philosophy which hold one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned,” and where there is no “first class and second class citizens of any nation,” and where “the colour of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes” and, finally, where “basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race.” These words were used by Emperor Haile Selassie I in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly on 4 October 1963, and was made popular by Bob Marley in the song “War.” As a Rastafarian, Bob Marley embodied advocacy and is recognized globally for the principles of human rights, equality, reparations and repatriation. Use these words to create a new narrative and reality of PEACE for your generation and generations to come. With Great Expectations! The Advocates Network:  #AdvocatesNetwork  #Jamaica60  #WeNaaEaseUp Prof Rosalea Hamilton, Advocates NetworkNora Blake, JP, Convener, No 9-Day Wonder, Advocates NetworkProf Opal Palmer Adisa, Adisa Consulting/Thursdays in Black, Advocates NetworkPatricia Phillips, Advocates NetworkP N. Grant, Advocates NetworkOberlene Smith, Advocates NetworkFr. Sean Major-Campbell, J.P. Anglican Priest & Advocate for Human RightsJudith Wedderburn, Gender and Development AdvocateDiedre Hart-Chang, Human Rights AdvocateDr. Henley Morgan, Social EntrepreneurProf Trevor Munroe, Civil Society AdvocateMike Henry, Reparations Advocate for Chattel Slavery, One of the 2 longest serving MP in JamaicaJacqui Samuels-Brown, Attorney at LawHugh Small, Attorney-at-lawBert Samuels, Attorney at LawManley (Big Youth) Buchanan, Musician and Freedom AdvocateErnie Smith, Singer/SongwriterProfessor Grethel Bradford, Human Rights Advocate & Trauma ProfessionalDr Anna Kasafi Perkins, Roman Catholic Theologian and EthicistRev Jayson Downer, President, MoGAVA (Men of God Against Violence and Abuse)Linnette Vassell, Gender & Social Justice ActivistJeanette Calder, Accountability AdvocateEnith M. Williams, Founder/Executive Director, Reparations Finance LabEmma Lewis, Writer and BloggerDr. Maziki Thame, Senior Lecturer, UWI, MonaIndi Mclymont-Lafayette, Development Communications SpecialistRukie Wilson, Jamaica Diaspora Member in Washington, D.C.Clarence Reynolds, President, Rennalls International LLCRachel Dolcine, MPA, CPM, CEO, Compass Consulting & Training SolutionsRosemarie Francis-Binder, Stand Up for Jamaica, GermanyClinton Hutton, ScholarMekelia Green, Attorney-at-LawShirley Duncan, Advocates NetworkHugh Thompson, Retired JamaicanPat Bernard, Attorney at LawPatrick Euston, Retired JamaicanHyman Wright, aka “Jah Life,” “Backawall,” Music Producer, EntrepreneurDesmond Shakespeare (Shaks), Industrial EngineerLorna Wilson-Morgan PhD, Security Advisor (Retired)George Golding, Entertainment ConsultantRev. Newton G.A. Dixon, African Methodist Episcopal (AME) ChurchKenneth Delano Rowe, Pan-AfricanistImani Duncan-Price, Gender and Development Activist, Former SenatorMishka Parkins, Consultant, Human Rights AdvocateMarvia Parkins, Educator, Human Rights AdvocatePaul Irving, Educational PsychologistKaBu Ma’at Kheru, Talk Show HostLois E. Grant (Nzingha) Communications ConsultantLorna E Green, Convenor, Women Business Owner Ltd.Andrew Neita, EngineerCopeland Fisher, Retired JamaicanPaul Burke, PNP NEC Life MemberGlynis Hay, EducatorMarcia Swaby, Retired TeacherChristopher Malcolm, Jamaican without allegiance to the CrownClaudette Cameron-Stewart, Jamaican Diaspora OrganizerMark Cameron, Co Convener, UICAndre Simpson, CEO, Higher ThinkaGillian Fox-Crosskill, Human Resources ManagerJoseph L Patterson, UIC Jamaica PresidentEroll Walters, Jamaican DiasporaSharon Wolfe, AdministratorDr Calvin Solomon, Medical DoctorAcinette Nelson, Jamaica DiasporaYola Grey Baker, Fashion DesignerAnthony White, Jamaica Research ProjectBevenisha Moodie-Osawaru, Management ConsultantDr Caroline Dyche (PhD), Lecturer, UWI MonaRoy Phillips, retired Civil ServantSidonie Donald-DePass, retired Matron, Spanish Town HospitalVictor J.N. Cummings, Former Member of ParliamentElaine Wint, Corporate Trainer/CoachSaba Igbe, Writer, StudentJonathan P. H. Burke, St. Mary FarmerOsmond Tomlinson, Medical DoctorJacqueline Francis, Medical DoctorDr Paul Allwood, Jamaica DiasporaKenyama Brown, Minister of Foreign Affairs, The State of the African Diaspora (SOAD)Tehuti Ra Hujae, member of the People’s Anti-Corruption MovementTopaz Cole, Natural by Nature’s Farm and Agro processingGlen Brown (GB), Human Rights AdvocateDonna AM Mattis, Teacher, Human and Social Rights Activist, Blogger, Member of People’s Anti-Corruption MovementRichard Marsh, Marine BiologistArlene McKenzie, Freelance Community Tourism ConsultantMaxine Stowe, Director, Ethio Africa Diaspora Union Millennium Council aka Rastafari Millenium CouncilPriest Wesley Kelly, Haile Selassie 1 Royal Ethiopian Judah Coptic ChurchPriest Bongo Leo, Stony Gut, Nyahbinghi TabernacleHugh Johnson, Rep, Bernard Lodge Farmers Group and Immediate Past President SBAJOsunya Minott, Black Roots RecordsCarlton Livingston, Executor, Bunny Wailer EstateAngela Pinnock, Medical ProfessionalErrol Kong, aka Ricky Storm Jah warriorTrudy Knockless, Business of Law Journalist, NYCamica Fuller, Jamaican motherTheo Chambers, Wellness Consultant and HumanitarianSharon Parris-Chambers, Founding Director, Temple of Inner Peace and HumanitarianDonna Brown, Jamaica DiasporaAndrea Prendergast, MotherDr Joan Shaw-Johnson, Jamaican CitizenStand Up For Jamaica (non-profit organization) The Advocates Network is an unincorporated, non-partisan alliance of individuals and organizations advocating for human rights and good governance to improve the socio-economic conditions of the people of Jamaica and to transform lives. Our core objective is to forge an effective, broad-based collaboration of individuals and civil society organizations to support human rights and good governance issues. For more information, email: Advocatesnet@gmail.com
Grenada: Confronting my family’s slave owning past

Grenada: Confronting my family’s slave owning past

Nicole Phillip-Dowe, DC Campbell and Laura Trevelyan explore a former slave plantation on Grenada Nearly 200 years after her ancestors were given a large payout from the British government when slavery was abolished, our correspondent travels to Grenada to find out how this grim legacy continues to reverberate today.  High up in the hills of the Caribbean island of Grenada, in the grounds of a former slave plantation, a cast iron bell hangs from a tree.  The ringing of the bell signified the start of another working day for West African slaves, harvesting sugar cane. Today, the Belmont estate is a popular destination for tourists. It's a place to enjoy the local cuisine and visit the gift shop, where you can buy artisanal chocolate bars embossed with the image of the slave bell. It was here that I came face to face with the brutality of the past - and the role played by families like mine. "This is the sound of slavery," said DC Campbell, a Grenadian novelist and descendent of slaves. He picked up a pair of shackles made for a child, turning them over in his hands. The artefact, usually housed in the island's national museum, would have been used on a slave ship on the infamous middle passage from West Africa to the Caribbean. We looked in silence at the shackles for adults and children, the neck brace which could be tightened until a slave could no longer breathe, and the leather whip which was even used on pregnant women. So sinister in the bright sunlight. "These were instruments of control and torture," said Nicole Phillip-Dowe of the University of the West Indies, matter-of-factly. "There was an entire system of control to ensure that you get the labour you want, to get the profits that you want." DC Campbell poses near a bell that would call slaves to work at the Belmont Estate For BBC producer Koralie Barrau, an American who's a descendant of slaves on Haiti, staring at these artefacts produced a visceral response. "It's sickening. I look at these neckbraces, these handcuffs for children, these whips. And it could have been me. Five or six generations back. This is what my ancestors had to endure and it's very chilling." Ms Phillip-Dowe explained that "disobedient" slaves were punished in public, to terrify the other slaves into submission. We are in Grenada because several years ago, I learned about my connection to this island. When my five-times great-grandmother Louisa Simon married Sir John Trevelyan in 1757, she brought to the marriage her merchant father's partnership in sugar cane plantations on Grenada, which included the ownership of about 1,000 slaves. I discovered all this at some point after 2013, when the records of Britain's Slave Compensation Commission were put online and relatives searched the database. The records revealed the names of the 46,000 slave owners who received compensation when Britain abolished African slavery in 1833. Portrait of Sir John Trevelyan with wife Louisa Simon, who brought to the marriage ownership of about 1,000 slaves on Grenada Paying off the slave owners did not come cheap - it cost the British government £20m, a staggering amount that represented 40% of government expenditure in 1834. In a family email chain, I learned that the Trevelyans received about £34,000 for the loss of their "property" on Grenada - the equivalent of about £3m in today's money. Reading the varied reactions of family members in Britain from my home in New York, I felt removed from the debate - and stored it away in the mental category of things that were too difficult to contemplate. Until I couldn't ignore it anymore. The racial reckoning in the US following the death of George Floyd forced me to ask what it really meant, that my ancestors had sat sipping tea in England, profiting from an inhumane system of slavery more than 4,000 miles away. In the summer of 2020, as Black Lives Matter protests dominated the streets of my hometown New York City, I realised the past was informing the present in ways that had to be confronted. If anyone had "white privilege", it was surely me, a descendant of Caribbean slave owners. My own social and professional standing nearly 200 years after the abolition of slavery had to be related to my slave-owning ancestors, who used the profits from sugar sales to accumulate wealth and climb up the social ladder.  The father of Victorian Prime Minister William Gladstone was a slave owner, as was a distant relative of David Cameron's. It's no coincidence that prominent British families were slave-owners. If one of the legacies of slavery in America was police brutality towards black men, what was the legacy of slavery on Grenada, I wondered? I had to find out. Even if it was going to open me up to accusations of being a white saviour trying to salvage her conscience. And I wanted to try to find a descendant of slaves owned by my family, to see if the past could be linked to the present. Should black Americans get slavery reparations?The murder that drove America to the brink In 2021, following the BLM protests after George Floyd's murder, Grenada's government became the last in the Caribbean to set up a National Commission on Reparations for Slavery. That commission is chaired by Arley Gill, Grenada's Ambassador to Caricom, the Caribbean community of 20 countries. We met at the historic Fort Frederick, built by slaves to defend the lucrative trading routes of the colonial powers of Britain and France. As we talked overlooking the sparkling Caribbean sea, Ambassador Gill told me how George Floyd's murder was "a profound stimulant, to not just Grenada, but the Caribbean as well. People saw these images of a white police officer kneeling on a black man's neck, he's crying out for breath. And that in itself really brought home the injustices of racism." In addition to a formal apology for slavery from the British government, Mr Gill would like to see an apology from the Queen. "The royal family played a critical part in sanctioning and participating in the slave trade and slavery. They must not be exempted from accepting their responsibility," he said. He is not alone. The Queen visited Grenada in 1985 When Prince William and his wife Kate arrived in Jamaica this March, they were met by protesters demanding Britain apologise for the slave trade and pay reparations to its former colony for slavery. Prince Edward and his wife Sophie cancelled a planned April visit to Grenada at the last minute, apparently over fears that they too might be greeted by demonstrations against slavery. Yet there's no avoiding the evidence of Britain's role in the suffering that slavery brought to Grenada. The island has some of the best-preserved slave registers in the Caribbean. In Nicole Phillip-Dowe's office at the University of the West Indies, in Grenada's capital St George's, we pored over record books, where officials with copperplate handwriting recorded the annual births and deaths of the enslaved. Records for the Beausejour estate, where the Trevelyans owned slaves, made for disturbing reading. Alexander is only one year old when he dies of an obstruction to the bowel. Harry aged 11 dies from measles. Leprosy and dysentery are common causes of death. Ms Phillip-Dowe explained how dysentery and measles spread quickly because of cramped quarters on slave ships. "Often the cause of death is put as itch. My thought is that was probably measles and the child would have been scratching uncontrollably," she said. The horror of life and death on the Beausejour plantation seemed at odds with our spectacular location. Grenada's capital St George's is known as one of the most beautiful in the Caribbean. The town sits on a horseshoe shaped harbour, below the hillside of an old volcanic crater. The Carenage is the heart of St George's, the bustling promenade winding round the harbour. Why Grenada wanted to talk to royals about slavery This is where the slave ships docked from West Africa, and the enslaved emerged from their arduous journey to be sold and begin life on the plantations. I had to go and see the Beausejour plantation for myself. The place where these children, Harry and Alexander, owned by my ancestors, had died. As we drove up the steep hillside above the Carenage, I noticed how the skyline of St George's is punctuated by the spires of Anglican and Catholic churches. It's yet another legacy of a past where Britain and France fought for control of an island so valuable to both nations. North of St George's, high up in the lush hillside, is the Beausejour estate, where I met Mr Campbell. His novel Winds of Fedon describes the horrifying conditions in which slaves were kept on Grenada, and the oppressive system of plantation life. We stood on the veranda of the plantation house, overlooking the slopes where the sugar cane once grew, and where enslaved people owned by my family toiled away, harvesting the crop and turning it into sugar for export. There are a few ruined outhouses on the property, but that and the faded grandeur of the plantation house are the only clues to the past. Mr Campbell pointed out a spot where the metal rollers would have stood, into which slaves fed the sugar cane so it could be crushed. If a slave's finger got caught in the roller, he explained, a plantation official with a machete would cut off the slave's hand - rather than risk the slave's body being pulled into the roller, disrupting the production of sugar.  "They would rather the slave lose an arm, then a life. Because that human being with one arm can still get back to work," said Mr Campbell, explaining the amoral economics. Hearing this harrowing description of life on the Beausejour plantation was shocking to me. Did the Trevelyan family back in England have any idea about what their slaves endured? And if they knew, did they care? What Grenadians call the monumental landscape of their island is dotted with references to the colonial past. Streets are named for slave owning English officials. Grenada's National Reparations Commission has recommended that by the 50th anniversary of Grenada's independence from Britain in 2024, streets be renamed for prominent Grenadians. Educating the island's youth about the history of slavery is another aim of the Reparations Commission, so the Commission's vice-chair Nicole Phillip-Dowe took me to meet the students of St Joseph's Convent school in St George's. As Ms Phillip-Dowe introduced me to a packed classroom as a descendant of slave owners on Grenada, the girls looked on with intense interest. I asked who in the room was descended from slaves. Every hand shot up. Should my family pay reparations to the people of Grenada because we had owned slaves here? The answer was a resounding yes. The question of what reparations for slavery should look like is one that Mr Gill is mapping out. He's adamant that former colonial powers should invest in the infrastructure of Grenada, which he argues is only fair given how much slavery contributed to the economies of Great Britain and France. "Slaves were kidnapped. They were kept in horrific conditions. And all of that, in many respects, established the Industrial Revolution and triggered the development of Western European societies," he said. Mr Gill points to the prevalence of hypertension and diabetes in Grenada and across the Caribbean as another legacy of slavery. I tasted Grenada's delicious national dish called Oildown. It's a one pot dish, which was all slaves were able to cook, made of pigs tails and salted fish and breadfruit high in carbohydrates. Centuries of poor diet have led to high rates of chronic disease, argues Arley Gill, and investments in education and health by the former colonial powers would go a long way to undoing some of this damage. During Carnival, people dress up as the character "Jab Jab'", which is a symbol on Grenada of the "devil slave master" St George's, Grenada Having found these traces of my family's legacy as slave owners on this island, was it possible that I could find someone descended from slaves owned by the Trevelyans? Since freed slaves were often named for their former masters, at first, our BBC team looked for anyone with the last name of Trevelyan. No luck. My ancestors never set foot on the island of Grenada, opting to leave the day-to-day operations of the plantations to our relative by marriage with the name of Hankey, with whom we co-owned the properties. So it's conceivable that people named Hankey are descended from slaves owned by my family. Maybe if I could find a member of the Hankey family, we might be able to explore our shared past? The computer store in Grenada's capital St George's is called Hankey's. It's just steps away from the market place where slaves were once sold. Meeting the store owner, Mr Garfield Hankey, was not easy. He was unsure about whether he wanted to speak to me. Our driver Edwin Frank, a keen student of Grenada's history, persuaded Mr Hankey that it was important for us to meet face to face. Rather nervously, I explained to Mr Hankey that my ancestors could have owned his. "That's deep," he responded. Garfield Hankey I explained I was wrestling with the knowledge that my family had been compensated in 1834 for the loss of their property, the enslaved, while slaves got nothing. I asked Mr Hankey if that was fair. "Not at all," replied Mr Hankey, animatedly. "It wasn't fair. I believe that the slaves were the hard workers, they are the ones that should really get some form of compensation." It's a question I struggled with myself during my visit to Grenada. The British government has never formally apologised for slavery or offered to pay reparations. In a statement to the BBC, the Foreign Office said: "Slavery was and still is abhorrent.  "The UK Government has expressed deep regret that the transatlantic slave trade could ever have happened, and we recognise the strong sense of injustice felt in countries affected by it around the world." The British role in America's tainted past The arguments for and against reparations are controversial and complex - the moral imperative of making amends, versus questions about whether this is the most effective way to tackle racial inequality. And is it right to expect those who weren't responsible to pay the price for decisions made hundreds of years ago? One thing I'm exploring personally is how I can contribute to an educational fund that students in Grenada could benefit from. The girls at St Joseph's convent told me this would show I cared about their future, and wanted to make amends for the past. As I grappled with the philosophical question of whether personally I owed anything, I sought the advice of Sir Hilary Beckles, the historian and vice-chancellor of the University of the West Indies who is the chair of the Caricom Reparations Commission. "Slavery is not in the past," said Sir Hilary. "Our grandparents remember their great-grandparents who were slaves. Slavery is part of our domestic present. Slavery denies you access to your ancestry. It leaves you in this empty void." On the vexed question of whether there is something families like mine should do, Sir Hilary said: "What you are trying to reconcile is privilege on one side of the ledger and poverty on the other. We inherited poverty, illiteracy, hypertension, diabetes, racial degradation - all the negative dimensions. You inherited wealth, property and prestige." If I give money to help Grenadian students with higher education - couldn't that be dismissed as an empty gesture, I asked. "There is great symbolic significance," Sir Hilary said. "Think of the impact if every one of the slave-owning families did the same thing." On our last day in Grenada, producer Ms Barrau and I sat on the never-ending sands of Grand Anse beach with our hosts Ms Phillip-Dowe and Mr Campbell. Grand Anse is where it all began after all, Mr Campbell reminded me - it's where the British first tried to land and take possession of Grenada in 1609. Ms Barrau told me she now has a concrete idea of what the concept of reparations means. "As a Haitian American living in the US, you hear a lot about reparations within the black community. And for me, it felt really intangible. Are we all going to get money? How does that play out? But in an island like Grenada, with 110,000 people, it seems a bit more tangible, a bit more real." "It's important to acknowledge that a crime was committed," says Ms Phillip-Dowe. "And after the apology, it's only fair that the colonial powers that built their industrial revolutions from enslavements should give back to the Caribbean." But it doesn't undo the past, does it, I said to her. "No, it doesn't," she replied. "And we understand that you can't go back and take a paintbrush and say that never happened. We can't do that. But we can recognise that it happened. And we can find ways to repair it as much as possible." So when you think about slavery and what it means for Grenada's future, what's your conclusion? I asked DC. "This is an ongoing effort to bring closure," he replied. "Into the future, the history ought to be kept alive, so we can learn from it. And there's a significant lesson that we can learn from what the slaves endured, in terms of their strength, their faith, their resiliency." As Ms Barrau and I said our farewells, I felt overwhelmed by what we'd seen and learned in Grenada.  Ms Phillip-Dowe's words after we'd handled the shackles and the neck brace on the plantation were ringing in my ears. "The touching and the feeling brings strangely enough a sense of recognition," she said. "This is what was, and now we are trying to learn from it, and heal and move forwards."
Reparations for Slavery Becomes a Commonwealth Issue

Reparations for Slavery Becomes a Commonwealth Issue

As the fallout from a policeman’s killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Black Lives Matter protests reverberates around the world, the Commonwealth may be about to have its own moment of reckoning with its origins in the British empire. In early July, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle declared that the Commonwealth needed to confront the legacy of slavery and the realities of institutional racism. Speaking as president and vice-president of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said people needed to be aware of everyone’s in-built bias, adding: ‘When you look across the Commonwealth, there is no way we can move forward unless we acknowledge the past … and trying to right those wrongs.’ With the tone of media coverage of the couple becoming distinctly chillier since Harry and Meghan decamped to Los Angeles, the response of the prominent rightwing journalist Andrew Neil, like many on Twitter, was highly critical: ‘What is it that the Commonwealth has done wrong? And since they don’t live in it, what’s it got to do with them?’ But Prince Charles, Harry’s father, had already said much the same thing in 2018, when he announced in Ghana: ‘While Britain can be proud that it later led the way in the abolition of this shameful trade, we have a shared responsibility to ensure that the abject horror of slavery is never forgotten.’ But many would argue that not forgetting is no longer enough. The legacy of this structural impoverishment to enrich the ‘mother country’ (as black subjects of the British empire were encouraged to regard the UK, rather than Africa) can be quantified in illiteracy, poor health etc. In terms of chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension, black Caribbeans ‘are the world’s sickest per capita’. Six years after the regional grouping Caricom approved a 10-point plan proposed by its Reparations Commission – with demands including a formal apology, repatriation, eradicating illiteracy, debt cancellation and technology transfer – the issue seems more pressing than ever, propelled by the Centre for Reparation Research under Verene Shepherd at the University of the West Indies in Kingston. The British government has long resisted pressure to move towards reparations. In response to Caricom’s initial campaign in 2014, the Foreign Office said: ‘We do not see reparations as the answer. Instead, we should concentrate on identifying ways forward, with a focus on the shared global challenges that face our countries in the 21st century. We regret and condemn the iniquities of the historic slave trade, but these shameful activities belong to the past. Governments today cannot take responsibility for what happened over 200 years ago.’ ‘Britain won’t use the language of apology, out of fear this might pave the way for reparations,’ Afua Hirsch wrote in the Guardian. But, as she says, there is an overwhelming case for repaying the financial debt built up by Britain as hundreds of years of free labour provided the capital for industrialisation. No reparations have ever been paid to the victims of the Atlantic trade in humans or their descendants, according to the historian Ana Lucia Araujo. The irony is that the Treasury instead paid handsome compensation to Britain’s slave owners. The four-time Liberal prime minister William Gladstone’s father, for example, received £106,769 – the equivalent of about £83m today. The £20m paid out under the 1833 Abolition Act was 40% of the government budget, or £308bn today. As the Bristol Post discovered, the debt was only paid off in 2015. Ron Sanders, the Commonwealth commentator and former diplomat, asked in 2013 whether a claim could be sustained, but almost answered his own question by stating that ‘while the demand for reparations for slavery plays well politically with domestic audiences, few Caribbean leaders have shown much enthusiasm for legal action.’ Despite Caricom governments consulting the UK human rights law specialists Leigh Day, there seems little progress in pursuing the claims. Can the Commonwealth be an agent for that change? Asked on the BBC’s Newsnight whether the Commonwealth should be discussing reparations, the secretary-general, Patricia Scotland, preferred to look to the past for examples of how the organisation had taken a stand, citing the leading role played in isolating and confronting apartheid South Africa in the 1960s and 70s. She swerved past a query about Caricom calling again for reparations, noting that Commonwealth membership excludes this, but added ‘nothing is ever off the table’ and ‘the Commonwealth isn’t running away from it’. Scotland is right to be wary of taking a firm position – the debate is a complex and fraught one, as a hearing by the US Congress on reparations proved. For the young black commentator Coleman Hughes, while the ‘failure to pay reparations directly to freed slaves’ was ‘one of the greatest injustices ever perpetuated by the US’, paying reparations to all descendants of slaves might be ‘justice for the dead at the price of justice for the living’. He suggested instead paying them to black Americans who grew up under the ‘Jim Crow’ laws that foreshadowed South African apartheid. On the other hand, the writer Ta-Nehisi Coates argued that as half of all economic activity in the US in 1836 was ultimately derived from the million or so slaves, and the average black family now had a tenth of a white family’s income, ‘the matter of reparations is one of making amends and direct redress’. One of the most concerted legal claims for reparations by descendants of slaves was dismissed by the US court of appeals in 2006. The class-action lawsuit alleged that a range of corporations had profited unjustly from slave labour but the claims were thrown out for several reasons, including that it was a ‘political question’ and therefore beyond the remit of the judiciary, that the statute of limitations applied, and that the plaintiffs were not entitled to bring the claims. Other attempts at reparations have been equally problematic; a salve to the conscience of white America while doing little for the victims (the average payout to Native Americans, for example, was $1,000). The UK paid £22m to victims of torture during the 1950s Mau Mau uprising (£3,000 each). Iraq gave Kuwait $48bn in reparations after the Gulf War. Germany paid at least $80bn to Holocaust victims. However, it refused to pay anything to the Nama and Herero in Namibia, although the German president accepted that the massacres amounted to the 20th century’s first genocide. Compensating descendants of US slaves would cost $10-12tn. Used judiciously, it could close the wealth gap between black and white Americans within a decade, according to the Roosevelt Institute. However, only one in five Americans agree on using ‘taxpayer money’ for this.  Britain has a huge stake in the debate over reparations in the Americas: its ships transported some 3.1 million Africans across the Atlantic, accounting with Portugal for 70% of the trade. However, the sums are even greater for India, which probably contributed even more capital than the American colonies towards Britain’s Industrial Revolution. The Indian economist Utsa Patnaik estimates the wealth extracted from the subcontinent between 1765 and 1938 at $45tn. This prime piece of colonial real estate even funded the empire’s further expansion: ‘The cost of all Britain’s wars of conquest outside Indian borders were charged always wholly or mainly to Indian revenues,’ she asserts. As the Congress Party politician and writer Shashi Tharoor put it in a 2015 Oxford Union debate, if India’s share of the global economy fell from 23% in 1700 to under 4% by 1948, ‘we literally paid for our own oppression.’ With Patnaik’s estimate roughly 17 times the UK’s current GDP, reparations are practically impossible. For Tharoor, ‘a symbolic pound a year for the next 200 years as a token of apology’ would suffice. The Indian writer Akhilesh Pillalamarri, writing in The Diplomat, believes reparations for a specific crime, such as the Amritsar massacre in 1919, would be justified but argues: ‘It is virtually impossible to translate this tangible and definable definition of reparations to loosely defined macro-historical phenomenon like imperial rule.’ Some of the worst aspects of empire were highly defined, of course, such as the largely manmade famines in Ireland and Bengal, for example. While much of the ideology of eugenics and social Darwinism that informed Victorian British society may have been more grounded in notions of class than the explicit racism seen in the US and Germany, for example, it nonetheless helped shape British imperialism. These ideas have rarely been challenged in public discourse about the legacy of empire. Indeed, as a YouGov poll in 2014 proved, three times as many of the UK public still believe the British empire is more something to be proud of (59%) than ashamed of (19%). And overall they believe former British possessions are better off for having been colonised (by 49 to 15%). So while a robust debate about the legacy of the Commonwealth is long overdue, it is starting to happen, as the spontaneous tearing-down of the Bristol slave-trader Edward Colston’s statue in June showed. The symbolic act of ‘taking the knee’ started as a lonely protest in 2016 by Colin Kaepernick, bringing isolation, abuse (from the US president among others) and death threats to the American football player.[37] For a while it remained a sports story. But in the four years since then police brutality against black Americans became a front-page issue and galvanised a generation of young protesters around the world. The issue of reparations for descendants of enslaved Africans and other victims of the British empire may become equally pressing.
The Emancipated Empire

The Emancipated Empire

The British Empire was first built on slavery and then on the moral and economic self-confidence of antislavery The boiling house on a sugar plantation, from Ten Views in the Island of Antigua (1823) by William Clark. Courtesy the Yale Center for British Art Britain ended its slave trade in 1807, and abolished slavery in much of its colonial empire in 1834. Four years later, Queen Victoria was crowned. For British liberals, the timing was auspicious, and the lessons were obvious. The 18th-century empire of enslaved labour, rebellious colonies and benighted protectionism had been purified by the ‘sacrifice’ of the profits of slavery to the principles of free trade, free labour and free markets. But the empire that slavery made endured. Although individual enslaved people were often brought to Britain by the people who claimed to own them, for most Britons, mass enslavement was something that happened ‘over there’ – in the colonies, especially the sugar-producing islands of the Caribbean. This fact of geography shaped British antislavery. The ‘mother country’ could also be the stern but benignant ‘father’, correcting children in the ‘infant colonies’. In the slave colonies, opposition to slavery could be a revolutionary threat to the social order. In Britain, antislavery affirmed Britain’s superior virtue in relationship to its empire. This contented patriotism was a feature of British antislavery, decades before the leaders of the movement succeeded in securing the abolition of the slave trade. In 1785, William Cowper published ‘The Task’, a long poem in blank verse. In Book II, Cowper celebrates Somerset v Stewart, the 1772 case that set a precedent for enslaved people from Britain’s colonies to sue for freedom in metropolitan courts. He wrote: Slaves cannot breathe in England; if their lungsReceive our air, that moment they are freeThey touch our country and their shackles fall.That is noble, and bespeaks a nation proudAnd jealous of the blessing. Spread it then,And let it circulate through every veinOf all your empire; that where Britain’s powerIs felt, mankind may feel her mercy too. William Wilberforce, the leader in Parliament of the campaign to abolish the British slave trade, admired Cowper’s eye for evidence of Providence. He was his favourite poet. For both men, antislavery confirmed Britain’s special place in human and divine affairs. To Wilberforce, slavery kept an enslaved person from choosing salvation. Consequently, to enslave was a terrible sin. Emancipation, however, did not imply independence. Social hierarchy was natural, and therefore desirable. Virtue flowed downhill from the powerful to the weak, the rich to the poor, Britain to the colonies. Wilberforce assumed that Britain would hold the interests of freedpeople in trust during a long journey toward civilisation. What greater proof of advanced civilisation could a nation offer than opposition to slavery? For Cowper and Wilberforce, Britain was exceptional – and in historical memory, the antislavery movement is still offered as evidence of British exceptionalism. For conservative Eurosceptics such as the Oxford theologian Nigel Biggar, antislavery is the antidote to criticism of empire. ‘Between the slave-trade and slavery of the 18th century and the present,’ Biggar writes in a widely circulated recent essay for the group Briefings for Britain, ‘lies 150 years of imperial penance …’ With his talk of penance and his totting-up of the ‘gifts’ given by empire – English, railroads, parliaments, property rights – Biggar performs a mawkish pageant of the pith helmet, the Bible and the flag. Antislavery, from this point of view, symbolises Britain’s moral awakening and special destiny, first and greatest among the European empires. In the United States, a similar caricature of British antislavery as especially precocious and virtuous has become a useful foil for reimagining American history, in The New York Times’s 1619 Project and elsewhere. If slavery is the American ‘original sin’, and the preservation of slavery was a cause of the American Revolution, British antislavery becomes an avenging force driven out of the new United States. And yet, when white Virginia colonists first purchased enslaved African workers to cultivate tobacco in 1619, the colonists thought of themselves as English. They looked south to Spain and Portugal’s colonies, where plantation slavery was well-established, and hoped to make a fortune. To the colonists, hierarchy was natural and defined by God. Coerced, enserfed or enslaved labour was unremarkable – and, from the colonists’ perspective, necessary – gentlemen, by definition, did not work in the fields. The sins weren’t original, and they weren’t ‘American’. The Caribbean, not the colonies that became the American South, was the focus of debate for supporters and opponents of slavery in the British Empire. During the nearly three centuries of the transatlantic slave trade, more than 2.3 million enslaved people disembarked in Britain’s Caribbean colonies, compared with roughly 390,000 in the Thirteen Colonies and the US. In 1783, Britain lost the Thirteen Colonies, but retained more than a dozen sugar-producing colonies in the Caribbean. After the disruption of the Revolutionary War, colonists in the Caribbean resumed importing nearly everything, from barrel staves to livestock, from the US and Britain. Sugar was so profitable that one British slaveholder claimed that an acre planted with sugarcane would yield enough sugar to buy and import five acres’ worth of grain. Despite geographic affinities and deep commercial relationships with the North American colonies in rebellion, the Caribbean colonies remained a part of the British Empire. The white planters who dominated the British Caribbean had strong incentives for loyalty. The Navigation Acts, which governed imperial trade, guaranteed them a protected market for their sugar in Britain. The Acts also barred the often cheaper and higher-quality sugar produced in other European plantation colonies, especially the French colony of Saint-Domingue, overthrown by the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804). Moreover, unlike most American colonists, Caribbean planters generally thought of Britain as home. Wealthy colonists bought property in Britain, invested in British firms, and sent their children away to British boarding schools. The West Indian ‘interest’ in British politics, while far from unified, resisted attempts in Parliament even to regulate either the slave trade or enslaved labour. The British slave trade survived for nearly a quarter-century after American independence, British colonial slavery as long again, ending half a century after US independence. The antislavery movement, like the West India interest, was not unified. It grew from many roots during the 18th century. Among economic theorists, the idea that enslaved labour was more expensive than wage labour became an axiom of imperial political economy. Among British Quakers and among the growing community of Evangelical Protestants, inside and outside the Church of England, slavery – long tolerated in Christian theology – became an obstacle to orderly religious communion and to evangelism. For Enlightened intellectuals interested in comparing Britain to Rome, slavery was culturally backward – an obstacle to imperial consolidation and a symbol of barbarism. For Britons increasingly sensitive to torture and corporal punishment – common in public spaces in Britain for much of the 18th century – the disgusting conditions and violence endured by the enslaved became shocking and intolerable to contemplate. For a growing middle class, and especially for middle-class women, otherwise excluded from most of political life, antislavery was a means to influence policy. After the American Revolution, a new generation of British politicians hoped to tighten and centralise control over Britain’s remaining colonies. Finally, after the Haitian Revolution, the threat of a successful rebellion overthrowing slavery made the prospect of a slow, managed transition to freedom appealing. There is a common thread connecting these disparate political, cultural and intellectual movements that coalesced into popular antislavery in Britain: all flowed from the growth of the 18th-century empire. The prosperity and expansion that slavery made possible in the British Empire also helped to make antislavery a powerful, if inchoate, part of British culture. Empire raised British consciousness against slavery. At the same time, antislavery presumed British power and superiority – abolishing slavery would prove that Britain was modern, enlightened and fit to govern its empire. Antislavery in Britain was not a threat to empire; empire gave it shape and impetus. When the 1807 Slave Trade Act passed, Britain was at war with Napoleonic France. Ending the slave trade was a way gradually to reform the Caribbean colonies, and to prevent a revolution like Haiti’s, as well as a reason to attack and search neutral shipping to look for enslaved people aboard. The Act was a triumph for the antislavery cause, but it was also part of the war effort. Henry Thornton, a Member of Parliament (MP) and a close ally of Wilberforce, saw the Act as proof that Britain was a new Rome. ‘Civilisation,’ Thornton said in the House of Commons, ‘has always been promoted in the world chiefly by the communication of light from a civilised to a barbarous people.’ Imperial power carried new responsibilities. ‘Ought we not generally to prevent man from preying upon man?’ Thornton asked. ‘[W]e profess to act on higher principles than other countries.’ The emancipation that Parliament granted in 1833 was not what enslaved rebels fought for After 1807, antislavery leaders assumed that ‘natural’ economic laws would erode Caribbean slavery. Without a supply of enslaved labour, slaveholders would need gradually to improve living and working conditions on plantations until slavery gradually disappeared. ‘I am not afraid,’ Wilberforce had told the House of Commons in 1792, ‘of being told I design to emancipate the slaves.’ However, he continued, ‘True Liberty is the child of Reason and of Order; it is indeed a plant of celestial growth, but the soil must be prepared for its reception.’ After the end of the slave trade, enslaved people would learn to be wage workers; slaveholders would learn to be employers. In antislavery rhetoric, absentee slaveholders, because they lived in genteel houses in Britain and patronised the same charities and institutions as leading abolitionists, could be partners in this project of ‘ameliorating’ the conditions of enslaved labour. If absentees returned to the Caribbean as patrician landlords, they would be unable to resist the decline of slavery, and might also help to rehabilitate a British agricultural aristocracy that seemed in decline. ‘Now the legitimate and rightful lord,’ Cowper had mourned, in a passage about the sale of old aristocratic acres in Britain, ‘is but a transient guest, newly arrived.’ Some wealthy slaveholders shared this vision of themselves as patricians. Bryan Edwards, slaveholder, MP and historian of the Caribbean, believed that slavery was necessary to empire, but that it should be reformed. He thought of himself as a father to the people he claimed to own and, as an MP, led a movement to repeal colonial laws that allowed enslaved people to be sold to pay off debts, a common reason for family separations. He restricted the use of corporal punishment on his plantations. There was little daylight between Edwards and Joshua Steele, an obscure Barbados planter who experimented on his plantation with a scheme to convert enslaved labourers into semi-indentured tenants. Thomas Clarkson, a prominent antislavery campaigner, compared Steele to Toussaint Louverture, the Haitian revolutionary hero. They were, he wrote, ‘two great men, quite unknown to each other; one of whom (Mr Steele) was concerned in preparing Negro-slaves for freedom, and the other (Toussaint) in devising the best mode of managing them after they had been suddenly made free.’ To 19th-century eyes, the distinctions among ‘progressive’ planters, antislavery activists and even revolutionary leaders could easily blur. But ‘amelioration’ did not end slavery. Colonial legislatures resisted amelioration. Enslaved people – like the rebels who fought against colonial militias and British troops in Barbados in 1816, in Demerara (later part of British Guiana) in 1823 and in Jamaica in 1831 and 1832 – forced emancipation on to the Parliamentary agenda, but the emancipation that Parliament granted in 1833 was not what enslaved rebels fought for. Unlike emancipation in Haiti or the US, won through armed struggle and secured with radical constitutional settlements, the end of slavery in the British Empire happened by Act of Parliament, to public acclaim. On 1 August 1834, the hundreds of thousands of enslaved people in the British colonial empire were free, but most passed from slavery into ‘apprenticeship’ for four more years of forced labour. Cane cutters in Jamaica, photographer unknown, c1880. One of the earliest photographic records of sugar plantations in the Caribbean. Photo courtesy the National Maritime Museum Greenwich/Wikipedia Apprenticeship was designed as education, a way to teach freedpeople how to accept, save and appropriately spend wages. Steady work and deference to authority were evidence of civilisation. Apprenticeship also helped to reconcile the mostly hostile legislatures of the Caribbean colonies to an unwelcome, though not unexpected, transformation imposed from London. In 1825, a former colonist from the Caribbean, T S Winn, praised Haiti for its success in increasing ‘knowledge, civilisation, and prosperity’ after the Revolution ‘without any White supremacy or superintendence; a disadvantage our West India colonies need not be subjected to.’ It was one of the first times the phrase ‘white supremacy’ appeared in print in Britain – not as criticism, but as the cornerstone of emancipation policy. To make former slaveholders whole, the Treasury raised a fund of £20 million, a substantial portion of which landed on the balance sheets of the wealthiest of the slaveholding class. Apprenticeship and compensation infuriated many who would later found or become rank-and-file members of the Anti-Slavery Society, the largest advocacy group for the cause in Britain. The leaders of the Society, however, understood that the government might choose to withdraw the legislation entirely unless both provisions were a part of the final Act. By this time, Thomas Fowell Buxton, the MP hand-picked by Wilberforce as his successor in Parliament, had talked himself into supporting compensation. He was certain that the British public would not, as it would soon be said, ‘think £20 million, or, indeed, any sum, too great a sacrifice for the achievement of such mighty objects as these.’ On 29 July 1833, Wilberforce died. On 31 July 1833, Fowell Buxton told the House of Commons that it had been Wilberforce’s dying wish ‘to see the day when England consented to give £20 million for the abolition of slavery!’ The Bill passed its reading and went to the Lords, who amended the legislation to begin emancipation on 1 August 1834, rather than 1 June; 1 August was the usual end of the sugar-planting season. The 1833 Act was in the slipstream of public opinion – voiced in mass meetings, petitions and pamphlets – and was widely celebrated. ‘The national heart seemed on fire,’ one Antiguan colonist remembered. But popular support for emancipation did not mean that Britain’s plan to end colonial slavery was the product of democratic deliberation. Although Parliamentary representation had been reformed in 1832, redistributing seats more equitably by population, the electorate in England comprised about 20 per cent of the adult male population. And yet, the huge bill for compensation – 40 per cent of the entire national budget – proved valuable in antislavery rhetoric as a quasi-religious sacrifice of national wealth for the greater good. As the economist John Ramsey McCulloch put it, emancipation policies were a ‘vindication of the right of property’. Britain had proved itself worthy of its growing empire. ‘The measure,’ McCulloch concluded, ‘in fact, reflects quite as much credit on the wisdom and honesty, as on the generosity, of the British nation.’ Emancipation was popular, but emancipation policy was imperial. Compensation freed up capital that had been sunk into a plantation economy in decline by the 1830s, and anchored by imperial protection of colonial sugar, wavering under threat from supporters of free trade. Antislavery aligned capitalism with morality. The freedom to sell one’s labour did not require violent coercion or treat human beings as chattel. But wage labour would do more, activists argued. It would transform wage labourers into more prudent, pious and civilised subjects. The British government presented emancipation to Parliament and the public as a test of the obedience and work ethic of freedpeople. In 1833, Edward Stanley, the Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, told the House of Commons that freedom was an experiment ‘more mighty … than any experiment ever attempted to be carried into effect by any nation in any period of the history of the world.’ Slavery, he argued, had knocked enslaved workers far down the ladder of civilisation, convincing them that ‘the greatest of human curses is labour, so the height of human bliss and enjoyment is the relaxation from labour.’ Apprenticeship was designed to correct this misconception. As sugar plantations declined in the Caribbean colonies after emancipation, freedpeople were blamed for failing the ‘mighty experiment’. For a decade after 1834, reams of data were published in Britain, comparing the quantity of sugar produced by apprentices (after 1838, fully free workers) to yields from the era of slavery, and from other European colonies that still used enslaved labour. In 1846, the Sugar Duties Act introduced a schedule for the end of imperial protection for sugar. Cheaper imported sugar from outside the empire flooded British markets. In 1847, at least 48 merchant banks specialising in Caribbean trade went bankrupt. Jamaican estates that had been worth £80,000 under slavery could now be had for as little as £500. Slavery remained profitable. Between 1827 and 1840, Cuba had doubled its sugar production using enslaved labour, and now claimed 20 per cent of the entire global market. In West Africa, forcing open labour and commodity markets in the name of antislavery cut a path for conquest As the British sugar industry collapsed, many antislavery activists turned to West Africa. Once again, free-market capitalism and free labour were touted as cure-alls. To build civilisation, by these standards, was to create conditions that would impel people to follow the ‘natural’ laws of political economy. The argument that ‘Africa’ was undifferentiated, culturally empty and economically backward had been a commonplace for slave-traders. After the end of British colonial slavery, ‘darkest Africa’ was useful for antislavery imperialism. In West Africa, Britain had two overlapping objectives, wrote the Quaker industrialist and antislavery leader John Joseph Gurney, ‘of developing the resources of the soil of Africa, and of raising the native mind.’ The capture of the Spanish slave ship Bolodora by HMS Pickle (1831). Aquatint by Edward Duncan. Courtesy the Trustees of the British Museum Fowell Buxton advocated for a larger fleet to interdict slave ships in West African waters. Gunships would not only stop slave ships; they would convince African leaders to sign treaties giving up the slave trade in exchange for commercial preferment. Europe would import finished goods; Africa would grow crops and extract minerals. Africans who might have been sold into slavery would find secure employment and civilisation as wage workers in industries useful to British importers and merchants. ‘The principles, then … are these,’ Buxton wrote: ‘Free Trade. Free Labour.’ In West Africa, forcing open labour and commodity markets in the name of antislavery cut a path for conquest. In 1851, to secure an antislavery treaty, British warships shelled Lagos, forcing the abdication of the Oba (or ruler), Kosoko. A new Oba, Akitoye, installed by the British, abjured the slave trade and opened the port to British ships – free trade. Meanwhile, at Abeokuta, a town near Lagos, the Church Missionary Society (CMS) established an Industrial Institution to teach cotton cultivation to locals. In partnership with Thomas Clegg, a Manchester cotton merchant, the CMS sent missionaries, of both European and African origin, far and wide with cotton seed, gins, screw presses and other gear. Cotton exports from Lagos rose from 11,492 lbs in 1856 to 220,099 lbs in 1858 – free labour. In 1861, Britain annexed Lagos as a Crown Colony. In 1885, at the Berlin Conference, Britain leveraged its claim on Lagos into possession of the territories that were unified in 1914 as the Protectorate of Nigeria. Antislavery was a natural partner for a global order centred on free-trading, industrial-capitalist Britain. It promised low-cost and highly productive labour from colonial subjects. Since working for wages was inherently civilising, and since low wages encouraged prudence and sobriety, to be exploited was to be educated. Despite many schemes to grow cotton with free labour within the British Empire, Britain depended on enslaved labourers in American cotton fields. Britain imported about 800 million lbs of cotton every year by the later 1850s, and the US produced fully 77 percent of it. At the peak of the trade, nearly one in five Britons depended on the cotton supply for their livelihood. Clegg, like many entrepreneurs with antislavery principles, hoped to find a source of cotton made by wage workers sufficient to replace American cotton. The problem was that giving up American cotton would impoverish British workers. As one delegate at the World Anti-Slavery Convention, held in London in 1840, argued, a boycott of slave-made cotton ‘would starve more than one-half of the present inhabitants of this island’. Until the American Civil War, Britain remained the best customer of the US. In the 19th century, ‘abolitionism’ and ‘antislavery’ were sometimes used interchangeably. What it meant to be either ‘antislavery’ or ‘abolitionist’ shifted over time, and across distance; the terms were rarely neutral. Sometimes ‘abolition’ referred to policy, and ‘antislavery’ to ideology. However, occasionally in Britain and often in the US, the terms were rhetorical opposites. For some American antislavery activists, ‘antislavery’ was a condemnation: ‘antislavery’ was the moderate position, and moderation was cowardice. However, for many white Americans who sympathised with the enslaved but feared either rebellion or a decline in their own quality of life, ‘abolitionist’ was the slur – a synonym for ‘zealot’ or ‘bomb-thrower’. A campaign pamphlet published in 1856 praised Millard Fillmore, the 13th US president, for his ‘noble, moderate, conservative’ positions on slavery. He was hated by ‘the fire-eaters and ultra-pro-slavery men of the South, as an abolitionist, and by the Abolitionists and disunion fanatics of the North as a friend of slavery extension’. By 1856, moderation on slavery appealed less to American voters than perhaps ever before – Fillmore was crushed at the polls – but his campaign understood that calling someone ‘abolitionist’ could energise the electorate. In the present, abolitionists argue for the end of prisons, for gutting police departments to the studs. The term, when used in this sense, retains what 19th-century radicals wanted from it – uncompromising opposition to the ugly, immoral state of things. In Britain, the distinctions between ‘abolitionism’ and ‘antislavery’ were less contentious. The campaigns against the slave trade and slavery aligned well with the interests of an industrial and capitalist British Empire. The end of slavery and the beginning of free labour, the leaders of the antislavery movement promised, would secure rebellious Caribbean subjects to British rule. The discipline of wage labour would be a civilising force, teaching thrift and forbearance to people who were believed to be mired in moral and economic depravity. As the Trinidadian historian, later first prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Eric Williams argued in Capitalism and Slavery (1944), in the era of abolition, economic conditions favoured cheap, easily exploited wage labour over enslaved labour. Antislavery Britons believed in justice and freedom, and enjoyed how their beliefs made them feel. But what justice and freedom meant, and Britain’s responsibility to carry them around the world by force, if necessary, were shaped by imperial power. The public celebrated. Parliament made the laws, and capital called the tune. Padraic Scanlan is an assistant professor at the Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources at the University of Toronto, cross-appointed to the Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies. He is also a research associate at the Center for History and Economics at Harvard University and the University of Cambridge. He is the author of Freedom’s Debtors (2017) and Slave Empire (2020).
CARICOM 10 Point Plan for Reparatory Justice

CARICOM 10 Point Plan for Reparatory Justice

The CARICOM Reparations Commission (CRC) asserts that European Government Were owners and traders of enslaved Africans.Instructed genocidal actions upon indigenous communities.Created the legal, financial and fiscal policies necessary for the enslavement of Africans.Defined and enforced African enslavement and native genocide as in their ‘national interests’.Refused compensation to the enslaved with the ending of their enslavement.Compensated slave owners at emancipation for the loss of legal property rights in enslaved Africans.Imposed a further one hundred years of racial apartheid upon the emancipated.Imposed for another one hundred years policies designed to perpetuate suffering upon the emancipated and survivors of genocide.And have refused to acknowledge such crimes or to compensate victims and their descendants. Context The CRC is committed to the process of national international reconciliation. Victims and their descendants have a duty to call for reparatory justice. Their call for justice is the basis of the closure they seek to the terrible tragedies that engulfed humanity during modernity. The CRC comes into being some two generations after the national independence process, and finds European colonial rule as a persistent part of Caribbean life. The CRC operates within the context of persistent objection from European governments to its mandate. The CRC, nonetheless, is optimistic that the CARICOM Reparatory Justice Programme (CRJP) will gain acceptance as a necessary path to progress. The CRC sees the persistent racial victimization of the descendants of slavery and genocide as the root cause of their suffering today. The CRC recognizes that the persistent harm and suffering experienced today by these victims as the primary cause of development failure in the Caribbean. It calls upon European governments to participate in the CRJP with a view to prepare these victims and sufferers for full admission with dignity into the citizenry of the global community. The CRC here outlines the path to reconciliation, truth, and justice for VICTIMS AND THEIR DESCENDANTS. 1. FULL FORMAL APOLOGY The healing process for victims and the descendants of the enslaved and enslavers requires as a precondition the offer of a sincere formal apology by the governments of Europe. Some governments in refusing to offer an apology have issued in place Statements of Regrets. Such statements do not acknowledge that crimes have been committed and represent a refusal to take responsibility for such crimes. Statements of regrets represent, furthermore, a reprehensible response to the call for apology in that they suggest that victims and their descendants are not worthy of an apology. Only an explicit formal apology will suffice within the context of the CRJP. 2. REPATRIATION Over 10 million Africans were stolen from their homes and forcefully transported to the Caribbean as the enslaved chattel and property of Europeans. The transatlantic slave trade is the largest forced migration in human history and has no parallel in terms of man’s inhumanity to man. This trade in enchained bodies was a highly successful commercial business for the nations of Europe. The lives of millions of men, women and children were destroyed in search of profit. The descendants of these stolen people have a legal right to return to their homeland. A Repatriation program must be established and all available channels of international law and diplomacy used to resettle those persons who wish to return. A resettlement program should address such matters as citizenship and deploy available best practices in respect of community re-integration. 3. INDIGENOUS PEOPLES DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM The governments of Europe committed genocide upon the native Caribbean population. Military commanders were given official instructions by their governments to eliminate these communities and to remove those who survive pogroms from the region. Genocide and land appropriation went hand in hand. A community of over 3,000,000 in 1700 has been reduced to less than 30,000 in 2000. Survivors remain traumatized, landless, and are the most marginalized social group within the region. The University of the West Indies offers an Indigenous Peoples Scholarship in a desperate effort at rehabilitation. It is woefully insufficient. A Development Plan is required to rehabilitate this community. 4. CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS European nations have invested in the development of community institutions such as museums and research centres in order to prepare their citizens for an understanding of these Crimes against Humanity (CAH). These facilities serve to reinforce within the consciousness of their citizens an understanding of their role in history as rulers and change agents. There are no such institutions in the Caribbean where the CAH were committed. Caribbean schoolteachers and researchers do not have the same opportunity. Descendants of these  CAH continue to suffer the disdain of having no relevant institutional systems through which their experience can be scientifically told. This crisis must be remedies within the CRJP. 5. PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS The African descended population in the Caribbean has the highest incidence in the world of chronic diseases in the forms of hypertension and type two diabetes. This pandemic is the direct result of the nutritional experience, physical and emotional brutality, and overall stress profiles associated with slavery, genocide, and apartheid. Over 10 million Africans were imported into the Caribbean during the 400 years of slavery. At the end of slavery in the late 19th century less than 2 million remained. The chronic health condition of Caribbean blacks now constitutes the greatest financial risk to sustainability in the region. Arresting this pandemic requires the injection of science, technology, and capital beyond the capacity of the region. Europe has a responsibility to participate in the alleviation of this heath disaster. The CRJP addresses this issue and calls upon the governments of Europe to take responsibility for this tragic human legacy of slavery and colonisation. 6. ILLITERACY ERADICATION At the end of the European colonial period in most parts of the Caribbean, the British in particular left the black and indigenous communities in a general state of illiteracy. Some 70 percent of blacks in British colonies were functionally illiterate in the 1960s when nation states began to appear. Jamaica, the largest such community, was home to the largest number of such citizens. Widespread illiteracy has subverted the development efforts of these nation states and represents a drag upon social and economic advancement. Caribbean governments allocate more than 70 percent of public expenditure to health and education in an effort to uproot the legacies of slavery and colonization. European governments have a responsibility to participate in this effort within the context of the CRJP. 7. AFRICAN KNOWLEDGE PROGRAM The forced separation of Africans from their homeland has resulted in cultural and social alienation from identity and existential belonging. Denied the right in law to life, and divorced by space from the source of historic self, Africans have craved the right to return and knowledge of the route to roots. A program of action is required to build ‘bridges of belonging’. Such projects as school exchanges and culture tours, community artistic and performance programs, entrepreneurial and religious engagements, as well as political interaction, are required in order to neutralize the void created by slave voyages. Such actions will serve to build knowledge networks that are necessary for community rehabilitation. 8. PSYCHOLOGICAL REHABILITATION For over 400 years Africans and their descendants were classified in law as non-human, chattel, property, and real estate. They were denied recognition as members of the human family by laws derived from the parliaments and palaces of Europe. This history has inflicted massive psychological trauma upon African descendant populations. This much is evident daily in the Caribbean. Only a reparatory justice approach to truth and educational exposure can begin the process of healing and repair. Such an engagement will call into being, for example, the need for greater Caribbean integration designed to enable the coming together of the fragmented community. 9. TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER For 400 years the trade and production policies of Europe could be summed up in the British slogan: “not a nail is to be made in the colonies”. The Caribbean was denied participation in Europe’s industrialization process, and was confined to the role of producer and exporter of raw materials. This system was designed to extract maximum value from the region and to enable maximum wealth accumulation in Europe. The effectiveness of this policy meant that the Caribbean entered its nation building phase as a technologically and scientifically ill-equipped- backward space within the postmodern world economy. Generations of Caribbean youth, as a consequence, have been denied membership and access to the science and technology culture that is the world’s youth patrimony. Technology transfer and science sharing for development must be a part of the CRJP. 10. DEBT CANCELLATION Caribbean governments that emerged from slavery and colonialism have inherited the massive crisis of community poverty and institutional unpreparedness for development. These governments still daily engage in the business of cleaning up the colonial mess in order to prepare for development. The pressure of development has driven governments to carry the burden of public employment and social policies designed to confront colonial legacies. This process has resulted in states accumulating unsustainable levels of public debt that now constitute their fiscal entrapment. This debt cycle properly belongs to the imperial governments who have made no sustained attempt to deal with debilitating colonial legacies. Support for the payment of domestic debt and cancellation of international debt are necessary reparatory actions.Source: http://www.leighday.co.uk/News/2014/March-2014/CARICOM-nations-unanimously-approve-10-point-plan
The Commonwealth ‘Development’ and Post-Colonial Responsibility

The Commonwealth ‘Development’ and Post-Colonial Responsibility

Abstract One important (though often neglected) part of the ‘development business’ committed to principles of partnership is the Commonwealth, a voluntary association of 54 independent countries, almost all of which were formerly under British rule. This paper focuses on the Commonwealth’s contemporary sense of ‘responsibility’ for shaping African development through ‘partnership’ and by promoting ‘good governance’ and examines the particular example of Mozambique, which joined the Commonwealth in 1995. In exploring exactly what membership of this post-colonial ‘family’ has meant for Mozambique the paper explores the neocolonial paternalism and sense of trusteeship that the Commonwealth has articulated in its often very apolitical vision of African development which seems to lock the continent into a permanent stage of tutelage and to repetitively reduce Africa to a set of core deficiencies for which externally generated ‘solutions’ must be devised. More generally, the paper also examines the wider context of the Commonwealth’s involvement in Africa by looking at the connections it has made to British industry, British charities and the British Department for International Development (DFID). The paper concludes with an assessment of the ‘showcase’ potential of Mozambique and its importance to Commonwealth and DFID narrations of an African ‘success’ story of peace, stability and growth since the end of the country’s devastating civil war in 1992. Keywords: Mozambique Commonwealth Development Partnership Post-colonial Responsibility 1. Introduction: morality, responsibility and Britain’s Africa policy ‘‘The vanished empire is essentially unmourned. The meaning of its loss remains pending. The chronic, nagging pain of its absence feeds a melancholic attachment. This is. . .to a resolutely air-brushed version of colonial history in which gunboat diplomacy was moral uplift, civilising missions were completed, the trains ran on time and the natives appreciated the value of stability. These dream worlds are revisited compulsively. They saturate the cultural landscape of contemporary Britain. The distinctive mix of revisionist history and moral superiority offers pleasures and distractions that defer. . .” (Gilroy, 2005, p. 1). When he took up office in mid-1997 few could have anticipated that former British Prime Minister Tony Blair would become more heavily involved in African politics than any British leader since decolonisation with an ‘‘almost missionary zeal to change the UK and the world” (Porteous, 2005, p. 286). Outlining Britain’s ambitions for moral leadership on the international stage Blair claimed that the new Labour government would make Britain a ‘‘model”, a ‘beacon to the world”. Following the military intervention in Sierra Leone in 2000 authorised by Blair, ‘Africa’ became an explicit priority for New Labour’s much trumpeted ‘ethical’ foreign policy that sought a sharper focus on issues like governance and human rights. For Blair the state of Africa was ‘‘a scar on the conscience of the world”, a scar that would become ‘‘angrier and deeper” if supposedly ‘responsible’ western leaders did not intervene to ‘heal’ it (Blair, 2001). Africa was thus positioned as a moral imperative whilst Blair claimed that Britain would seek to work in ‘partnership’ with African states and regional organisations to ensure that there was African ‘ownership’ of reform and development processes. Key to this notion of Britain as a ‘beacon’ or ‘model’ was the creation of the Department of International Development (DFID) in 1997 (Power, 2000). Independent of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and under the stewardship of Clare Short MP, ‘Africa’ became the top policy priority for the new Ministry. In a multifaceted shift then in the UK government’s vocabulary around poverty, DFID policies were increasingly cloaked in a language of morality, ethics and responsibility with Short defining DFID’s approach as constituting a ‘‘new humanitarianism”, where every Briton recognised the ‘‘moral responsibility to help the poor” and where DFID would dispense ‘‘principled aid”. Thus, the labour government, vis-à-vis the discourse of development, set about narrating itself as leading a metropolitan nation that is ‘civil’, developed, modern and morally ‘advanced’ but in ways that exhibit very strong lines of continuity with earlier British colonial discourses of development1 (Biccum, 2005; Kothari, 2005). UK development discourses are posited as beneficently moral, selling the idea of poverty eradication as a moral imperative and an obligation of the British nation to its citizens whilst the possession of this moral duty and responsibility in part defines the UK as ‘developed’ and ‘‘writes this identity into the national consciousness” (Biccum, 2005, p. 1013). Such moral claims arguably echo the nineteenth century concept of trusteeship in the way they construct the UK as leader of a global project of managing development and globalisation whilst poverty is presented as having no historical links and as a ‘new’ global challenge within a reductive repetition motif. Here, Africa in particular is constructed as perpetually deficient and lacking in some way, with the noble work of DFID the only way to close the gap. Reductive repetition (as in Orientalist scholarship) reduces the diversity of African historical experiences and trajectories, sociocultural contexts and political situations into a set of core deficiencies for which externally generated ‘solutions’ must be devised (Andreas- son, 2005). An undifferentiated ‘Africa’ is here repetitively reduced to a uniformly and eternally deficient space, awaiting external intervention and ‘solutions’ to its many ‘problems’. Tropes of trusteeship and tutelage and traces of post-colonial paternalism thus closely shape New Labour’s envisioning of ‘Africa’ (Mercer et al., 2003; Power et al., 2006). In January 2005, Brown completed his second tour2 of Africa on the eve of Britain’s presidency of the G8 and the EU. The tour included a whistle-stop 1-day visit to Mozambique where, accompanied by DFID secretary of state Hilary Benn, Brown visited Commonwealth war graves from World War I and met with Mozambican finance minister Luisa Diogo and the President-elect Armando Guebuza (BBC, 2005; AIM January 19, 2005). Brown had been seeking endorsement for his ‘Compact for Africa’ (a rival to the Blair-inspired Commission for Africa)3 or as the Daily Telegraph put it, the ‘‘Cash-For-Guilt programme” (Steyn, 2005). Brown’s Compact (or ‘‘mini-Marshall plan”) for Africa envisaged a massive boost in flows of capital to Africa, almost all of it aid, transmitting ‘‘the negative image that Africa is a perpetual beggar, dependent on western largess, rather than an actor in its own right with potential and a future” (Taylor, 2005, p. 309). Speaking in Mozambique to journalists from the Daily Mail newspaper Brown declared: ‘‘[T]he days of Britain having to apologise for its colonial history are over. We should move forward....We should celebrate much of our past rather than apologise for it. . .(Brown cited in Brogan, 2005). Britain has never even faced up to the dark side of its imperial history however, let alone begun to apologise or deal with the consequences of its loss of empire. The meaning of this unmourned loss ‘‘remains pending” (Gilroy, 2005). Addressing the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) the previous year Brown referred to his Compact as more than a contract but also a covenant between rich and poor founded upon ‘‘our moral responsibility to each other” and the need to ‘‘awaken our conscience to the needs not just of neighbours but of strangers. . .to see every death from hunger and disease as if it is a death in the family” (Brown, 2004, p. 2). Similarly, speaking in May 2006 at the Financing for Development conference in Abuja, Nigeria, Brown added: ‘‘this will only be achieved by partnership between rich and poor...a global new deal between developed and developing...A covenant for this generation and next founded not on the old colonialism of the past or the post-colonial dependency, but a covenant that is a partnership of equals...” (Brown, 2006, p. 1). The questions of responsibility and relationality between places, and between place and space, have always been central for geographers and are also key questions for post-colonial theory (Noxolo et al., forthcoming). Development geographers have been concerned to respond to ‘the claims of distant strangers’ (Corbridge, 1993) and have argued that responsibility for global poverty stretches beyond the bounds of place. Massey (2004) argues that global cities like London need to take responsibility for the exploitation that has brought them the resources to establish and maintain their status ‘‘not because of what we have done, but because of what we are” (Massey, 2004, p. 16). There is thus a need to recognise a sense of ‘‘responsibility towards the wider relations on which we depend” (Massey, 2004, p. 17). In the literature on responsibility and ethics the differences between responsibility to, responsibility for and responsibility over have been highlighted and in this paper the main focus is on the ways in which the Commonwealth claims and seeks to extend an (asymmetrical) sense of responsibility for and over post-colonial Africa and how this has been shaped by a growing British sense of moral obligation and responsibility to the continent. This discussion is centred upon the specific example of Mozambique, which joined the Commonwealth in 1995 (on the same day as Nigeria was suspended) and has considerably strengthened its economic and political linkages with Britain as a result. The discussion is also centred upon a particular example of governance reform in Mozambique, the Customs Reform Project, led by the British company Crown Agents. The Commonwealth is an organisation once dominated by Britain, to this day largely based in London and aiming (after 1947 and in the context of decolonisation at least) to help staunch a haemorrhage of imperial pride and confidence. In recent years there have been no shortage of would-be pallbearers for the Commonwealth and no shortage of critics who see this as an irrelevant imperial relic. Whilst the Commonwealth is more than some ‘shadow Empire’ based on smoke and mirrors, there are clearly those who are still nostalgic for a London-centred past history. It is thus necessary to excavate the discursive parameters of the Commonwealth’s sense of responsibility for and over distant African others at the points of their origin (Lester, 2002) and to think about responsibility in relation to the (post)colonial. The concept of partnership, for example, made its first appearance in the context of British imperialism before World War I but its continued usage today by organisations like DFID ‘‘draws on the racialised colonial hierarchies established in the metaphor of the British Commonwealth ‘family of nations’” (Noxolo, 2006, p. 254). Thus, we can discern an attempt to ‘‘reassert an imperial British authority in contemporary development relationships with third world countries....[with] Britain playing the ‘adult’ role of disciplinarian and provider to third world governments who seem to be children presenting potentially ‘challenging’ behaviour” (Noxolo, 2006, p. 260). In particular the paper seeks to trace the complex relationship between the Commonwealth’s sense of responsibility for development and reform and the wider regimes of discipline and governmentality in which the Commonwealth has increasingly become involved. How are these different notions of responsibility important to the dissemination of a neoliberal agenda around ‘good governance’, ‘international development’ and ‘partnership’? The ‘good governance’ agenda and the discourses that structure it (which have many colonial precedents) produce a form of knowledge about Africa ‘‘that has facilitated and legitimised certain forms of administration and intervention” (Abrahamsen, 2001, p. 22). This agenda has also become a means by which to secure further control and influence in African states in the interests of the penetration of global capital (Abrahamsen, 2001; Harrison, 2004) and represents Africa’s ‘‘third colonial occupation” (Nadubere, 2000, p. 23). 2. The Commonwealth, responsibility and post-colonial Africa ‘‘You name it, our family has got it. . .The power of the Commonwealth is its moral basis. Equality, based on partnership; of peoples, however different, however distant in terms of geography” (McKinnon, 2006, p. 2, 6). In exploring the ways in which notions of responsibility shape and influence the work of the Commonwealth it is useful to consider some of the multiple metaphors that are often used to describe the association. Thus, the Commonwealth is often described as a ‘family of nations’, as a post-colonial ‘club’, a ‘bridge’ between continents, a ‘network’ or as a kind of ‘toolbox’ of development solutions. The Commonwealth ideal of a multiracial ‘family’ of nations has a long history (Rich, 1986) but has partly served as a means of reproducing British authority at a time of great global political flux and change. Using gendered and generational metaphors, the multiracial family metaphor gives the impression of a voluntary union for mutual good whilst at the same time maintaining the notion of hierarchy and placing white Commonwealth nations at the head of the family. From this metaphor comes a great deal of the Commonwealth’s sense of responsibility for and over Africa. The idea of a close-knit family presents a platform upon which the Commonwealth has argued that its aid missions are more sensitive, effective and relevant to its member states, offering a ‘‘more intimate forum than the UN” (McKinnon, 2006, p. 6). The Commonwealth is today a strange mixture of former British Dominions, Protectorates, Colonies and Trusteeships, coupled with five former German colonies, one former Portuguese colony and seven members who also belong to the French Commonwealth, the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF).4 With 18 members, African countries collectively represent the largest single regional constituency within the Commonwealth community whilst many African governments have seen the Commonwealth as a friend and champion and not as part of the ‘North’ or ‘West’ (Bourne, 2005). Today the UK covers around 30% of the costs of the intergovernmental Commonwealth5 (which total about £33 million) and remains the largest funding contributor despite the post-1965 project of ‘de-Britannicizing the Commonwealth’ with the establishment of a multinational secretariat (albeit one still based in London). Member states must also contribute financially to the Secretariat and some of its associated agencies.6 The Commonwealth’s structure is based largely on unwritten and traditional procedures instead of a formal charter or constitution and it developed from the Colonial Conferences dating back to 1887 and to the Imperial Conferences at the start of the Twentieth century where Britain began to recognise the equal status of its self-governing colonies and Dominions (the ‘Old’ or ‘White’ Commonwealth). The Commonwealth thus continues to have a pronounced British stamp and to serve in part as an instrument of British foreign policy. Secretary-General Shridath Ramphal (1975–1990) once described the Commonwealth as having ‘‘no centre and no periphery” but the term ‘British Commonwealth’ is still a widely used customary appellation for many both within and beyond member states even though the prefix ‘British’ was dropped in 1946. The Commonwealth today sees itself as a political network bound by a special sense of togetherness, a global ‘subsystem’ that can be most effective when it applies ‘friendly persuasion’ (CPA, 2004, p. 1) to member governments or acts as a ‘channel’, ‘catalyst’ and ‘broker’ for North–South assistance, or as a ‘spur’ to South– South and regional cooperation. Multilateral Commonwealth resources are small however of which just under half are spent in Africa (including technical assistance and debt management). The Commonwealth’s ‘development’ related activities are principally led by the Secretariat based in London, by the Commonwealth Business Council (CBC)7 and by the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation (CFTC). The latter is the operative arm of the Commonwealth’s development programme and is attached to the Secretariat (although member states must apply to join the CFTC separately). Despite a good record of delivering assistance the CFTC is woefully underfunded with a meagre annual budget of just £25 million (though this is supplemented by the EU, DFID and its Canadian equivalent CIDA). The Commonwealth also works closely with the IFIs with whom it often liases on behalf of member-states. The Commonwealth Secretariat itself focuses principally on training, ‘capacity building’ and the provision of ‘expertise’ and advocacy for ‘LDCs’ and constructs itself as a kind of global ‘‘governance platform” that ‘‘adds value” to development, not by resource transfers (such as aid donations) but ‘‘with the force of experience and the moral power of authority” (McKinnon, 2006, p. 4). The basis of its interventions then are justified in terms of moral power, values and authority, which are seen to have accrued over many decades of involvement (colonial and post-colonial) in the ‘less developed world’. The invocation of this historical ‘force of experience’ and ‘moral power of authority’ is used to justify the Commonwealth’s assumption of responsibility over post-colonial Africa and its sense of responsibility for overseeing development and governance reform on the continent. Similarly, DFID has argued that the Commonwealth’s close historical relations ‘‘make it particularly well placed to mobilise political support for poverty elimination” (DFID, 1997: 2.18, p. 37). In many Commonwealth and DFID development discourses the menace of poverty in the ‘underdeveloped’ world is not seen as something actively produced by countries like Britain in the course of empire and colonisation however (Frank, 1970, 1979) and neither is there is an acknowledgement of how wealth extracted from Africa and Africans made possible the vigour and prosperity of modern Britain and its associated institutions. The Commonwealth, like New Labour and DFID, often seeks to promote development ‘partnerships’ and the local ‘ownership’ of development agendas, articulating an equalising rhetoric that attempts to disavow and displace European paternalism (Baaz, 2005) and remove the emphasis on external accountability for policy and its outcomes. Yet hierarchised relationships in the nuclear family (husband–wife, parent–child) are still the underpinning model of racialised authority that structures the Commonwealth’s interactions with Africa and they run through many DFID white papers on development (Noxolo, 2006). More generally there has been a persistent focus on parent–child relationships as the iconic reference point for questions of care and responsibility (Robinson, 1999; Massey, 2004). This model of authority illustrates the gendering and infantilisation at work in the Commonwealth and DFID’s conception of partnership, which denies the mutuality of post-colonial relations and puts Britain as ‘family’ head (Noxolo, 2006). The Commonwealth’s focus on democratic process, state capacity and ‘good governance’ is shallow, derivative and in many ways undistinguishable from the agendas of countless other international development organisations and the IFIs in particular. The focus on ‘adequate stateness’ and on building a model of the ‘steady state’ in Africa is deeply problematic and obscures complex trajectories of state formation. The Commonwealth models of democracy and good governance often foreground British experiences and there have been attempts to mould African state institutions along similar lines. While the talk is of tailoring the models (together with ‘partners’) to suit local specificities the model is almost always made in London. Similarly Commonwealth training courses, seminar and diplomatic attachments seem uncomfortable with the uniqueness of some histories of African governance (e.g. Mozambique) and seem premised on the assumption that such trajectories can and should be brought into line with the experiences of other (especially more ‘developed’) member states and particularly with that of the head of the ‘family’, Britain. The structure and purposes of the Commonwealth remain blurry and inchoate and its mission is ambiguous whilst in recent years there has been a shrinkage of resources due to the rationalisation of Commonwealth activities (the Secretariat now has a budget of 1% of that of the UN). At times the Commonwealth seems to lack a clear focus and if it is noticed at all (outside the highly visible Commonwealth Games) the association is often regarded as backward, lethargic, elitist and of little contemporary relevance. Commonwealth day, the second Monday in March, makes little impact on world attention and there is little understanding of what the Commonwealth is or does within many African member states. None of this is immediately obvious from the habitual self-satisfaction one sees in Commonwealth documents and brochures that seem to needlessly exaggerate the qualities of its interventions and the moral power of its authority (Sriniva- san, 2005). Many Commonwealth meetings seem to involve more consultation than combined action and it is not at all clear that what the Commonwealth has to say is worth saying and ‘‘not just a ‘me- too’ response” (Bourne, 2002, p. 5) that contributes little that is original and distinctive. In the words of McKinnon (2006): ‘‘When we travel to the global meetings we [the IMF, World Bank, WTO, etc.] are travelling together, with common ideas and proposals in our bags and in our heads, ready to do business with others. We often sit on the same plane going to these meetings. We have time to consider common approaches”. Donor harmonisation and alignment are important concerns for the Commonwealth but this can be taken to extremes. The common voice donors articulate can become a ‘common front’ in an unbalanced power relationship, especially when donors agree together to withhold disbursement (Batley, 2005). So what are the terms of the Commonwealth’s ‘partnership’ with Mozambique and how has it worked together with other neoliberal development agencies to promote particular discourses of development? 3. Commonwealth ideals and Mozambique’s ‘Anglophone drift’ ‘‘Mozambique’s adherence to the Commonwealth’s non- racial ideals of equality and common humanity is beyond question. Mozambicans have paid for these ideals with their blood, their children and the life of their first President” (SADC, 1997, p. 26). The Commonwealth often makes a great deal of the commonalities between its member states (e.g. in parliamentary, executive and judicial systems, customs and tax) which, according to Secretary- General McKinnon (2006, p. 2), have provided a common language of institutions that enables member states to ‘‘understand each other very well, just as a family’s members might understand each other. Of course, like family members we can have our differences. . .”. The Commonwealth is also supposedly founded upon a ‘‘shared inheritance in language, culture and the rule of law” (Commonwealth Secretariat, 2005, p. 1). Given that Mozambique has a tenuous connection to this ‘shared inheritance’ what relationship does the country have to this wider Commonwealth ‘family’? Former Commonwealth Secretary-General Shridath ‘Sonny’ Ramphal, described Mozambique in the late 1970s as a ‘commonwealth cousin’. Mozambique was thus a child (perhaps even an orphan) of another empire, but one that is ultimately related to Britain (although it is often not clear how). A 1997 report by SADC (the Southern African Development Community) on Mozambique’s accession also noted that the government of Mozambique wanted to ‘‘become a contributing partner in regional development, rather than a poor cousin who is a burden on the extended family” (SADC, 1997, p. 3). More recently the current Mozambican President Armando Guebuza also subscribed to the ‘family’ metaphor, claiming in December 2005 that the Commonwealth acted as a ‘united family’ and that it ‘‘never abandons one of its members in need” (Guebuza cited in AIM December 6, 2005). So what kind of relationship does this poor cousin of the ‘united family’ have with Commonwealth geographies of responsibility? When Mozambique became the 53rd member of the Commonwealth in 1995, reactions in Mozambique and Portugal (the former colonial power) could at best be described as rather mixed. Press reports in Portugal centred upon the increasing evidence of Mozambique’s ‘Anglophone drift’, with the country being ever more closely drawn into the orbit of British influence in Africa, as Portugal ‘‘saw one of the eight ships of the Lusophone fleet sailing away to join the Anglophones” (Newitt, 2002, p. 234). Mozambique’s accession alarmed many in Portugal, creating ‘‘quite some consternation” (Ronning, 1997, p. 53) with many critics bemoaning the state’s failure to preserve the Portuguese language8 and culture through the use of aid packages, a post-colonial agenda in Lusophone Africa that the ‘British Commonwealth’ was seen to have usurped. The decision was also not well received in France following several attempts to bring Mozambique closer to La Francophonie and other ‘Latin’ language communities in Africa. It is worth remembering however that until 1930 northern and central Mozambique were ruled by British controlled charter and plantation companies (Newitt, 1995). As Frank (1979) has shown, Britain had a dominant financial relationship with the Iberian Peninsula for much of the ‘age of empire’ and through its informal and indirect imperial commercial networks Britain was structurally connected to many former Iberian dependencies. Thus, it could be argued that historically Mozambique did at times come within Britain’s informal economic empire in Africa despite not even a portion of Mozambican national territory ever being formally controlled by the British. The principal Portuguese response to this ‘aberrant membership’ was the formation a year later in 1996 of the Comunidade dos Países de Língua Portuguesa (Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries or Lusophonie (CPLP), an equivalent ‘Portuguese commonwealth of nations’ with a similarly ‘special’ sense of togetherness (CPLP, 2006). Thus, began a process of mimicry between the CPLP and the Commonwealth, with the former very much modelled upon the latter (but yet seeking to express its differences too). Soon, for every Commonwealth electoral observation team or Commonwealth related investment promotion initiative, there was a very similar (if not identical) CPLP equivalent. The idea of a ‘Portuguese Commonwealth’ was first mooted in the mid- 1970s following the independence of Portugal’s African colonies (Canelas de Castro, 1998; Santos, 2003) but was delayed because of the civil wars in Angola and Mozambique that ensued and the indifference of Brazil. Following Mozambican accession to the Commonwealth the CPLP formation was accelerated however and the organisation was finally set up in Lisbon in 1996 with se- ven members (Angola, Brazil, Mozambique, Cape Verde, Portugal, Guinea-Bissau, Sao Tomé and Principe with East Timor joining in 2002). A key pillar of the association is the dissemination of the Portuguese language (which members must have as their official language), the ‘shared house of Lusophonie’ as Nobel Prize novelist José Saramago has put it. Many Mozambicans however were sceptical about the project to create a global ‘lusophone space’ and the concept of a pluri-continental ‘‘Lusophony” and ‘‘Latinity” upon which the CPLP was founded (Ronning, 1997) arguing that Portuguese leaders are obsessed with their language and preoccupied with fears it will be overtaken in Africa by English. Mozambique’s accession to the Commonwealth in 1995 was never met with the same level of debate and controversy as the decision to join the newly formed CPLP the following year. To this day Mozambique remains by far the least active CPLP member.9 Two days after the founding CPLP session took place in Lisbon, the Mozambican weekly newspaper Savanna ran an article with the headline Uma communidade sem nada em comun (‘A community with nothing in common’) (Savana, 1996) whilst Mozambican journalist Carlos Cardoso claimed it was necessary to free Mozambique from its colonial dependency and that the creation of the community revealed how slow the process of decolonisation was in Portugal: ‘‘Portugal wishes to have her little zone of influence [zonasinha] and does not mind spending money in order to make the six clap their hands” (Cardoso cited in Savana, 1996). The reasons for admitting Mozambique to the Commonwealth are complex and varied. On the website of the Commonwealth Secretariat, the fourth most frequently asked question is, ‘‘under what criteria was Mozambique, a former Portuguese colony, admitted as a member?” (Commonwealth Secretariat, 2007a). Commonwealth assistance to Mozambique originated in Mozambican involvement in the Rhodesian crisis of the 1970s and was even planned before Mozambique became independent in June 1975 (Hall, 1994). The ruling party Frelimo also has a long and successful history, dating back to the 1960s, of negotiating and keeping good relations with a diverse group of international supporters essential to its political survival and the Commonwealth has been a key part of this. Tanzania provided the rear base for Frelimo’s liberation struggle against the Portuguese and also (along with Zambia) hosted negotiations for the 1974 transition to independence. Mozambique’s opposition to the rebel regime in Rhodesia and later to Apartheid South Africa was seen to have emerged out of a ‘‘deep moral obligation” (SADC, 1997, p. 22) that had also motivated UK and Commonwealth diplomatic initiatives in the region. The final communiqué from the 1975 CHOGM (Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting) in Kingston included a passage on Mozambique, unanimously endorsing the Commonwealth Sanctions Committee’s call for support to Mozambique in applying sanctions against Rhodesia. In 1976, 1 year after independence, Mozambique closed its lengthy and lucrative border with Southern Rhodesia in compliance with sanctions initiated by the Commonwealth. Mozambique also sent a ministerial delegation to Lusaka for the Commonwealth summit in 1979. Canada, Australia and New Zealand later developed special bilateral relationships with Mozambique during the Apartheid era as did smaller Commonwealth members like Sierra Leone and Singapore. The civil war fought by Renamo (with backing from Apartheid South Africa) against Frelimo had disrupted or destroyed roads and railways, farms and agro-industrial complexes, aid projects, schools, health clinics and rural shops and had cost Mozambique well over $20 bil- lion (SADC, 1997). There was also the unlikely friendship between Samora Machel (Mozambique’s first President) and Margaret Thatcher (who considered Machel’s support critical in Rhodesia), a key objective of which was to encourage Mozambique to be non-aligned during the final years of the Cold War (Vines, 2006). As early as 1976, The Commonwealth Fund for Mozambique was established to assist in managing the impact of international sanctions against Rhodesia. Additionally, the 1987 Vancouver CHOGM set up a Special Commonwealth Fund for Mozambique (SCFM) to compensate for Mozambican losses due to the destabilisation led by Apartheid South Africa which included the provision of educational scholarships for Mozambicans, technical assistance with telecommunications, agricultural and rural development schemes and assistance with export market development (Interview with Linford Andrews, COMSEC, August 2006). The SCFM also funded Commonwealth ‘experts’ to visit Mozambique and was fairly unique as a Commonwealth programme in that it attracted financial contributions not just from countries like Britain, Austra- lia,10 Canada and New Zealand but also from countries like Barbados, Malaysia, Pakistan, Samoa, Sierra Leone, Singapore and Zimbabwe. Mozambique opened its embassy (later High Commission) in London in 1988 because of the growing importance of UK aid to the Mozambican economy (Vines, 2006). In October 1991, the Mozambican state produced a ‘memorandum of understanding’ asking for Commonwealth support in various fields but was quietly advised to drop the memorandum, for which no precedent existed and which delegates at the CHOGM would be loathe to consider (Hall, 1994). There was also strong support from key African leaders like Nelson Mandela (now married to Samora Machel’s widow, Graça) and Nigerian Chief Emeka Anyaoku (the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth throughout the 1990s). Mozambique is completely surrounded by Commonwealth member states and many argued that their officials needed to be able to communicate with Mozambican counterparts in English whilst many Mozambicans felt that membership would bring greater familiarity with institu- tions and procedures in use in Commonwealth member states. A SADC publication in 1997 noted that regionally Mozambique’s ‘‘exposure to Commonwealth methodology” would be a force for regional stability and development (SADC, 1997, p. 2) as would ‘‘wider bilateral exposure within the Commonwealth” (SADC, 1997, p. 25). Mozambique had also attended several of the biennial CHOGMs from the mid-1980s and was often present ‘in the mar- gins’ of various Commonwealth gatherings and conferences. Samora Machel, for example, attended the 1979 Lusaka CHOGM as the guest of Kenneth Kaunda and was even present at the formal opening of the meeting and some of the receptions (Hall, 1994). Formal participation and full membership was originally prevented by fears that the accession would establish some awkward precedents, opening the flood gates to membership applications and diluting the Anglophone focus of the Commonwealth. By the time of the decision to grant full Mozambican membership, Mozambique had increasingly come to be viewed as a ‘‘stable and predictable partner of the UK” (Vines, 2006, p. 6) whilst British High Commission, Commonwealth Development Corporation11 and DFID offices had been set up in Maputo along with the first British Council Office anywhere in Lusophone Africa. 4. The Commonwealth, British development policy and post- colonial Mozambique The Commonwealth agenda in Mozambique has facilitated and legitimised certain forms of administration and intervention, in particular those focused on state capacity, ‘good governance’ and liberal democracy. Although the talk is of ‘equal partnerships’, the assumption running through much of the Commonwealth’s work in Mozambique is that post-colonial development in the country is in its infancy and needs ‘parenting’ by ‘responsible’ development actors like the Commonwealth with the access to British aid and British capital that this can bring. One example of this is the Commonwealth Secretariat’s ‘advisory services’ and ‘capacity building initiatives’ in debt data compilation and management. This comes in the form of the Commonwealth’s Debt Recording and Management System (CS-DRMS), a software package distributed through the British company Crown Agents that seeks to aid public financial management. The CS-DRMS system, run by the Debt Management Section (DMS) of the Secretariat’s Special Advisory Services Division (SASD), was first launched in 1985 in Sri Lanka and is now installed in 54 countries (44 of them Commonwealth member states) and involves strategic partnerships with the IMF, the World Bank and La Francophonie (Commonwealth Secretariat, 2006b). The problem of debt (which has been particularly acute in Mozambique, a HIPC member) is thus reduced to an ‘internal’ matter of data compilation and technical support for ‘building capacity’, avoiding more complex politico- economic questions about how the debts were incurred in the first place or about the concentrated power of the IFIs. Another example of this ‘parental’ sense of responsibility for directing reform is the attachment of several senior Mozambican state officials to the Secretariat’s Governance & Institutional Devel- opment Division (GIDD) in London. This division trains 3000 public officials from the Commonwealth each year either locally or through Pan-Commonwealth programmes (GIDD, 2004) and this has included (since 2004) temporary attachments to GIDD of Mozambican officials lasting on average 4 months. The attachment programme was developed in response to former President Joaquim Chissano’s request to the Secretary-General to help promote a better understanding of the Commonwealth and its Secretariat within Mozambique’s public sector but there have been many problems with translation in GIDD placements even though officials were chosen because of their grasp of English (Interview with Taboka Nkhwa, GIDD, December 2006). Between 1999 and 2006, GIDD also co-funded training programmes for Mozambican participants on transparency, accountability and good governance (both in-country and overseas) facilitated by some of the 150 consultants and field ‘experts’ the Commonwealth sends to member states each year. Additionally, between 2000 and 2005 £1 million of technical assistance has been provided by the CFTC, which aims to ‘develop skills & capacity’ (Commonwealth Secretariat, 2006a). CFTC projects in Mozambique since 1995 have included assistance to the aquaculture industry, the construction of public housing, the pro- vision of English language training for state officials, assistance with maritime boundary delimitation and the construction of a tourism marketing plan (Interview with Terry Sinclair, CFTC, December 2006). Between 1995 and 2006, the CFTC dispatched short and long-term experts to work in Mozambique in areas like software development, trade standardisation, agricultural econom- ics, hydrography, epidemiology, customs and merchant banking, management, micro-credit and privatisation (Commonwealth Sec- retariat, 2007b). Typically, Commonwealth ‘experts’ involved in developing skills and capacity have come from the wealthiest member states like Britain (especially in short-term placements) but this is beginning to change and there have also been significant contributions from countries like Ghana, India, Kenya and South Africa. There is also the ‘Hub and Spokes’ project, a joint initiative between the Commonwealth, the European Commission and La Francophonie. This €20.63 million (£16.3 million) project seeks to ‘build the capacity’ of ACP countries in the process of trade policy formulation, international trade negotiations and implementation by placing Regional Trade Policy Advisors (RTAs) and ‘experts’ in regional bodies like SADC or the African Union. Perhaps the strongest and most visible sense of Commonwealth responsibility for directing reform has been that centred upon the promotion of liberal democracy and the observation of multi-party elections. Again Mozambican democracy is presented as in its infancy, at least in relation to older Commonwealth states like Britain and the Commonwealth’s supposed long-standing democratic ‘traditions’. Mozambique has thus been encouraged to join the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA, formerly the Empire Parliamentary Association), which works to support ‘good governance’ and democracy and seeks the advancement of democratic culture and principles (staging parliamentary workshops in Mozambique in 1998, 2001 and 2004) (CPA, 2004). A Commonwealth Observer Group was present for the 1999 and 2004 Presidential and Parliamentary elections, whilst a Commonwealth Expert Team monitored the 2003 local elections and the results of the 2004 national elections (Commonwealth Secretariat, 2004). The 2004 Presidential elections were marred by allegations of fraud however although these are somewhat downplayed in the final Commonwealth Expert Team’s report on the electoral process which simply refers to some ‘irregularities’ but the recommendations issued following this fraud (Commonwealth Secretariat, 2004) tend to centre on the technical support structures of the Electoral commission, on the software utilised and on the appointment of technical staff. While the overall election result was not affected by the fraud, evidence suggests that ballot box stuffing, improper ballot nullification and (intentional) organisational failure did take place (Hanlon and Fox, 2006) but once again complex political questions are ignored in favour or technical or administrative recommendations. Many Mozambican state officials point to the ways in which Commonwealth membership has enabled deeper political and economic linkages to be established with Britain (and with DFID in particular), with British charities, aid agencies and NGOs and with a variety of British companies. Commonwealth membership has certainly led to a deeper engagement with DFID who have provided support to Mozambique for some years now, mostly as co-financing for IMF/World Bank led adjustment programmes and through joint programmes of budget support which draw in other ‘partners’ from the international development community (such as the EU and several other bilateral aid agencies). DFID is one of about 60 bilateral and multilateral donors working in Mozambique today (along with around 150 international NGOs). British aid disbursements to Mozambique have grown significantly since the accession, increasing from under £8 million in 1991/1992 (Van Diesen, 1999) to £55million in 2005/2006 (DFID, 2005). Much of this was programme aid in support of structural adjustment programmes of which 64% is provided directly to the Government’s budget (making DFID the largest budget support donor). DFID also seeks to support the Mozambican Poverty Reduction Strategy Pa- per (PRSP) known locally as Plano de Acçao para a Redução da Pobre- za Absoluta (PARPA).12 Despite claiming that it wants to broaden ‘ownership’ of the PARPA, DFID has brought an army of consultants and development ‘experts’ along with a wealth of poverty reduction measures to Mozambique and has intensified the focus on development indicators and targets. Both DFID and the Commonwealth are heavily involved in the monitoring of Commonwealth countries in general normative terms through the extensive use of ‘benchmarking’ practices and in establishing and disseminating examples of development-related ‘best practice’. DFID also supports particular ministerial projects in education, health, tax administration, agriculture and rural development and has funded the Customs Reform Project (see below) led by the British company Crown Agents (DFID, 2005). DFID support has also involved a number of particular initiatives and events such as the UK-Mozambique partnership and co-operation week opened by the Queen in 1999 and the Commonwealth-Mozambique investment conferences held in 2002 and 2003 where a variety of investors expressed an interest in the tourism and agro-industry sectors of Mozambique. These and other similar events (such as the 2003 investment conference in Maputo led by the Commonwealth Business Council) have increasingly drawn Mozambique into a number of international communities of investment promotion and have neoliberalised Mozambican notions of ‘best practice’ for attracting FDI (Phelps et al., 2007). This has also been supported by CFTC assistance, in conjunction with DFID, aimed at helping Mozambique to source foreign capital for investments. Commonwealth membership has also opened up a range of trade and investment possibilities for British firms. Although UK- Mozambique trade remains relatively limited (UK exports totalled over £15 million in 2003 and UK imports from Mozambique stood at £9 million in the same year) (FCO, 2006) the UK is traditionally in the top three largest investors in Mozambique and in 2005 became the largest single foreign investor. UK companies now operating in Mozambique include BP, Shell, PWC, KPMG, Land Rover, Unilever, the Port of Liverpool,13 the CDC,14 Barlows, British American Tobacco, Rio Tinto, ED&F Man and BacTec (Vines, 2006). In line with the Commonwealth’s sense of responsibility for directing governance reform and improving state capacity, the involvement of one British company in particular, Crown Agents, has stood out. 5. Crown Agents and the ‘modernisation’ of the Alfândegas ‘‘...rather than conceptualising donor power as a strong external force on the state, it would be more useful to conceive of donors as part of the state itself” (Harrison, 2004, p. 22). Crown Agents (CA) was founded in 1833 in an attempt to reduce costs and increase efficiency in the procurement of goods and services to the Crown colonies. Acting as the British commercial and financial agent of the Crown colonies and protectorates, which were required by the Colonial Office to use its services (Abbott, 1959; Sunderland, 1999) CA reprinted the stamps and banknotes of the colonies, provided technical, engineering and financial services and served as arms procurers, quartermasters and paymasters for the colonial armies whilst seeking to improve colonial administration and facilitate colonial development (Kesner, 1977; Andromidas, 1997). It supplied all non-locally manufactured public sector stores, organised the provision of external finance, managed colonial investments, supervised the construction of railways, harbours etc. and performed various personnel functions (Sunderland, 1999). Although under the supervision of the Secretary of State for the colonies the Agency was financially and administratively independent of the government. CA was privatised in March 1997 and the Crown Agents Foundation (which holds its shares in trust) includes a number of token ‘worthy’ NGOs (e.g. Christian Aid or Transparency International) to help illustrate its supposedly loftier ‘developmental purpose’ (Crown Agents, 2005) alongside permanent members, which include representatives of the CDC and DFID. This self-styled ‘international development company’ aims to deliver capacity-building and institutional development services in public sector transformation and claims to be a not-for-profit private corporation that carries out mundane, routine administrative and logistical work for DFID, various development agencies and foreign governments. Crown Agents has received a lot of publicity in recent years as the first British company to win a contract in the US programme to rebuild Iraq and specialises in working in ‘difficult areas’ with projects in 110 countries worth US$10 billion (Crown Agents, 2005). The company first worked in Mozambique in 1979 (from its Zimbabwe office) on a power station project in Cabo Delgado and opened its office in Maputo in 1988, initially to support the Special Commonwealth Fund for Mozambique (SCFM) and the aid programmes led by DFID’s predecessor, the ODA. Crown Agents have also been closely involved with the Commonwealth’s CS-DRMS debt management project (winning the contract to distribute the software among member states) and have carried out aid validation work for DFID in Africa. The company was awarded the contract in 1996 for an ambitious Customs Reform Project, a contract that effectively gave it ‘operational management’ of Mozambican Customs services for the next 10 years, with many of the costs of the project met by DFID. The government’s reasoning was that corruption in the Customs service (Alfândegas) was difficult to break from within and so an outside company with no economic interests in contraband was needed. The first efforts to reform the Customs service began in 1988 and followed the beginning of Mozambique’s first structural adjustment programme. The Mozambican state quickly realised that donors and investors would be reluctant to enter into partnership without fundamental reform of the Customs service. The Commonwealth has also focused in on questions of public administration and governance in Mozambique which it regards as its ‘niche competencies’, noting that this is the area in greatest need of Commonwealth intervention in Mozambique given that the country has little in common with other member states. The Customs project is also seen as an important exemplar of harmonised joint donor planning and a critical part of wider public sector reform and trade liberalisation projects that began in the late 1980s and mid-1990s at the behest of the World Bank and the IMF (who as funding contributors both sat on the Steering Committee of the Customs reform project along with DFID). In reforming the Customs system, Crown Agents was tasked with increasing Customs revenue, facilitating trade liberalisation, modernising services, providing staff training and reviewing legislation. This included addressing both the revenue function of the Customs service (e.g. collecting tariff revenues and charges on imports and exports) and also the control function (e.g. preventing illegal goods imports). It was believed that Customs officers prior to the reform project had been colluding with smugglers, deliberately misclassifying and undervaluing goods or extorting payments from traders (Hubbard, 2005). This heavily corrupt system was also seen to be too complex and restrictive (based partly on old colonial legislation), to be lacking effective disciplinary measures for corrupt staff, to include too many discretionary ministerial exemptions and to lack professionalism and independence. During the civil war Frelimo was unable to exercise central control over its disjointed Customs operations and much of the physical infrastructure of the service was destroyed whilst poorly paid staff became vulnerable to some of the divisions the war had created (OECD, 2005). The lengthy coastline and extensive land borders of Mozambique also presented their own problems (some border posts are 2000 km from Maputo) whilst sugar and tobacco producers often complained they could not compete with the lower prices offered by smugglers. In mid-1997 the Customs service employed about 980 people (OECD, 2005) but almost 90% of these staff were either sacked or reassigned to other agencies whilst over 700 new staff were employed having followed the newly devised basic training courses (Interview with Vivienne Davis, Crown Agents, December 2006). There were also a large number of expatriates, external consultants and foreign ‘experts’ involved in the project as the company had a group of consultants in the country throughout (peaking at some 70 members) to provide technical assistance, train new and existing staff and to work at Customs points alongside Mozambican staff. The project also operated alongside and in tandem with the privatisation of the ports of Maputo, Beira and Nacala. The company completed its project in June 2006 and since then operational management of the Customs system has returned to the Mozambican state (AIM July 6, 2006). In the period 1996–2006 Customs revenue generation in Mozambique increased from US$106 million in 1996 to US$340 million (47% of total tax revenue) whilst Customs clearance times have been substantially reduced with the introduction of computerisation and the use of scanning equipment (OECD, 2005). The exact level of remuneration received by Crown Agents from the Mozambican government remains unclear however. According to the general director of Customs in Mozambique, Barros dos Santos, the project has been so successful that it has since become a reference point for ‘‘successful reforms in Africa” (Dos Santos cited in AIM July 6, 2006). CA themselves talk of the project as providing a ‘‘model for Mozambique’s wider public sector” (Crown Agents, 2006, p. 2) a ‘‘model of partnership” (Crown Agents, 2002) and an example of ‘best practice’ that can be readily transferred to other countries in the South (such as Angola which has recently signed a similar agreement with the company). ‘Success’ in this case is however relative to a very low starting point. There remain some very real concerns about the lack of sustainability with many critics arguing that the maintenance of any gains from the reform remains dependent on foreign aid and ‘expertise’. Overall CA’s relationship to Mozambique is more one of trusteeship than it is of equal partnership. The considerable resistance CA teams regularly encountered at border points like Ressano Garcia (Squires, 2000) is missing from most accounts of the ‘success’ of the project and there seems to be limited willingness to accept that reform may have increased revenues for the state and clearance times for companies but it has intensified the impoverishment of many Mozambicans who have so few alternatives to earn a living. The transborder networks that supported the war encouraged autonomous and resistant processes of what Duffield (2002) calls ‘actually existing development’, or development that has arisen in the spaces and lacuna created by structural adjustment and globalisation. While the project will relieve traders from the rent-seeking and corruption of Customs officials, the reality is that many small scale traders managed to evade Customs altogether. The cross-border flows which the project has attempted to control and manage are long-standing and there has been considerable resistance to CA’s attempt to dismantle them, leading to a series of acts of ‘fiscal disobedience’ (Roitman, 2004) and several challenges to the authority of CA and Mozambican state agencies. Business interests and trading companies were consulted during the reform process and a public relations section was set up to keep the public informed but there was little attempt to work with informal traders or those whose livelihoods would be negatively impacted and directly affected. Despite all the talk of local ‘ownership’ the result of the reform process is less not more local capacity to manage the Customs services and a heightened dependence on foreign ‘experts’ and resources. Raising the revenue gathered by Customs is much easier than reducing corruption but the former seems to stand in for the latter. The obsession with ‘modernisation’ is misleading and apolitical, doing little to ensure the better functioning of the services on which Customs rely (e.g. the police, courts or immigration services) and which are crucial to reducing corruption. This is an incredibly technocratic focus, where reform is a question of ‘modernising’ technical procedures and equipment and where the complex politics of corruption is largely ignored. The principal consequence of this is the reproduction of corrupt practices within the Mozambican state. Even DFID has recognised that ‘‘the impact of successful ‘sector-based’ reform, such as we have supported in Customs, will eventually be threatened unless the wider gover- nance environment improves” (DFID, 2004, p. 15). There have been many concerns expressed by local observers that Mozambican sovereignty (in an already weakened state) has been undermined by the project whilst the cultural insensitivity of CA staff, the lack of holistic thinking and the limited links to an overall development strategy have also been widely seen as fundamental flaws in this project. 6. Conclusions: post-colonial geographies of responsibility ‘‘States cannot be made to work from the outside” (Ches- terman et al., 2005, p. 384). Mozambique is very much a ‘donor darling’ so much so that it has become a testing ground for so called ‘new aid modalities’, such as the sectoral and general budget support provided by DFID, in the context of shifting international debates around aid effectiveness. As McGreal (2006: 2) has put it: ‘‘Mozambique continues to shine in the eyes of Downing street” and is held up as an example of what a combination of free market economics and foreign aid can do for a poor country. Tony Blair made his first and only visit to Mozambique in 2002 because his PR planners believed the country ‘‘represented the best showcase for his commitment to Africa” (Butcher, 2002, p. 2). Similarly in September 2005 Mozambican finance minister Luisa Diogo was invited to address the Labour party conference in Brighton (having endorsed Brown’s Compact for Africa and described him as a ‘‘great friend of Mozambique and of Africa”). Diogo spoke of the Labour party’s ‘‘solidarity and friendship to sisters and brothers all over the world”, and was given a standing ovation when she noted that ‘‘it is not our destiny to be poor” (AIM October 5, 2005). It could be argued then that both DFID and the Commonwealth engage in a process of ‘paradigm maintenance’ around the narration of Mozambique as a post-colonial ‘success story’, as an example of what can be achieved in Africa with successful neoliberalisation. This is despite the extreme level of dependence on aid in Mozambique where one donor mission arrives every day (Killick et al., 2005). The UK regards Mozambique as a ‘strategic development partner’ but also as a rare governance and development success in Africa ‘‘especially after other UK favoured aid recipients in Africa such as Ethiopia, Rwanda and Uganda have gone sour” (Vines, 2006, p. 6). Such narratives depend on spurious and often contradictory figures15 about Mozambican economic growth rates and overlook the fact that Mozambique relies on $1.2 billion of foreign aid every year and that this constitutes 50% of the state budget. Perhaps then Mozambique is a success story for donors, the elite and Frelimo but whether this is a success story for ordinary Mozambicans remains highly questionable. President Guebuza has argued that the Commonwealth pro- vides important ‘‘moral and material support” and represents a for- um ‘‘with a great deal of weight and influence in international politics” (AIM December 6, 2005). During his first official visit to the UK in December 2006, Guebuza claimed that ‘‘we depend on what countries like Britain can do for us” (Guebuza cited in McG- real, 2006) and met with the Queen, Hilary Benn, Lord Triesman (former Foreign Office Minister for African Issues) and the Com- monwealth Secretary-General. During the visit Lord Triesman noted that Mozambique had taken ‘enormous steps’ in recent years: ‘‘Mozambique’s commitment to addressing issues is the sort of attitude that others can learn from. . .we intend to underline to the President that we will continue in our commitment to a democratic Mozambique within the Commonwealth, setting an example of what can be achieved in a post-conflict African country.” Mozambican leaders like Guebuza are depicted as a ‘new breed’ of African politician that Britain wants to align itself with but this faith is perhaps misplaced given the narrow, ‘predatory’ interests of the state and leading families presided over by Guebuza. Donors have a limited awareness of the history of the political parties and state institutions with which they deal in Mozambique as Guebuza has been party to some of Frelimo’s worst abuses, overseeing (for example) ‘Operation Production’, a bungled attempt in 1983 to evacuate unemployed Mozambicans from the cities to the Northern province of Niassa in the middle of winter where many died. Over the past decade he has made a fortune by becoming a ‘‘stakeholder” in large companies by providing foreign investors wanting to do business in Mozambique with a well-connected partner (McGreal, 2006). The Commonwealth agenda for Africa has many echoes of trusteeship in the way that it implies a sense of responsibility over Africa and constructs the Commonwealth as somehow leading a global project of managing development. The force of Commonwealth ‘experience’ and the ‘moral power’ of its authority are used to justify this global leadership. Here Mozambique seems permanently confined to a state of tutelage, forever under the guardianship of supposedly ‘responsible’ development actors (with their historically accrued niche competencies) where the Commonwealth (and by implication Britain) play the role of adult disciplinarian and provider to Africa’s childhood and adolescence in this very hierarchical Commonwealth ‘family’. The Commonwealth’s apolitical conceptualisation of development is however structured around a reductive repetition that reduces Mozambique to a set of core deficiencies that need externally devised solutions and reduces complex political economies to a set of technical and administrative concerns. The Commonwealth contributes then to the production of Mozambique as a ‘governance state’, focusing on questions of ‘capacity’ whilst ignoring the fundamental causes and consequences of ‘corruption’ and ‘bad’ governance. Every day Mozambican citizens experience petty administrative corruption at police checkpoints, health institutions, schools and government offices alongside the more serious and larger-scale corruption and state capture that exists right at the uppermost levels of the Mozambican government. Donors like the Common- wealth (and DFID) have however been much less active in exercising their latent leverage in the fight against corruption on behalf of Mozambican citizens. Donors will even turn a blind eye to major corruption allegations and even evidence of electoral fraud in order to maintain this paradigm of ‘success’. De Renzio and Hanlon (2007, p. 13) refer to this as ‘pathological equilibrium’ in which donors accept a certain level of corruption in exchange for policy compliance. The Mozambican state has chosen not to question donor positions too deeply for fear of losing aid or alienating commercial interests but also partly because engaging with aid and the donor community presents opportunities for personal advancements and enrichment. DFID’s country assistance plan even urges the government to ‘‘retain the goodwill of donors” (DFID, 2004, p. 10). Budget support may increase ‘ownership’ by recipient governments like Mozambique but it might also be seen as introducing donors more deeply into the heart of government (Batley, 2005) meaning that donors are now engaged in all aspects of the policy process, having access to key documents and information and influencing government policy ‘from within’. There has thus been a blurring of ‘outside’ and ‘inside’ in this era of ‘post-conditionality’ (Harrison, 2004) as the institutions and mechanisms of Mozambican governance become increasingly inseparable from the international mechanisms of governance with which they are engaged. The production of ‘governance states’ in Africa and the focus on state capacity as the key to development lays responsibility for the failure of development and structural adjustment at the door of African states themselves and involves an abdication of responsibility by western states and institutions for political decision-making or accountability for outcomes (Chandler, 2006). Despite the talk of ‘empowering’ African states and of ‘partnership’ or of African state ‘leadership’ and ‘country ownership’, responsibility for the failure of African governance reform and ‘development’ has removed the emphasis on external accountability for policy and its outcomes: ‘‘the governance sphere of non- Western states is both the target for Western interventions and the excuse for their rhetoric not being matched by reality” (Chan- dler, 2006, p. 1). The joint responsibility donors have in Mozambican development means the stakes in maintaining narratives of ‘success’ are now higher than ever. Further, a pattern of accountability to donors (rather than to the centre of government or to the public) has emerged during the last 10 years as donors can dictate the composition, distribution and pace of expansion of government services. Thus, a sense of responsibility for the direction of Mozambican development and reform is articulated by the Commonwealth and DFID at the expense of a sense of responsibility to ordinary Mozambicans. Policy processes around development in Mozambique now involve hundreds of donor and government staff and dozens of committees and subcommittees and Commonwealth membership has only added to this, leading to bureaucratic over- load as Mozambican ministers and officials spend so much time in dealing with donors that they have insufficient time left for their government and party responsibilities. For all the fanfare about donor harmonsiation, co-ordination16 and alignment, at the country level donors are often unable or unwilling to reduce this bureaucratic burden, despite the talk about ‘weak’ state capacity. Thus, the first decade of membership has coincided with a wider erosion of government’s capacity to manage these increasingly complex interactions with the donor collective. As a result of almost two decades of ‘aid subservience’ (De Renzio and Hanlon, 2007) there are fears about the extent to which Mozambique is ‘‘able to express its national sovereignty through a locally defined development strategy” (De Renzio and Hanlon, 2007, p. 5) or has the ability to define an independent position to insist on in negotiations with donors. The sustained structural impact that DFID (or for that matter the Commonwealth) have had on poverty reduction is not readily apparent. The Commonwealth’s sense of responsibility for directing development and reform in Africa has only reinforced, extended and accelerated the neoliberalisation of Mozambican development around discourses of ‘partnership’ and ‘good governance’. Whatever the rhetoric, Brown’s ‘covenant’ between rich and poor is founded on aspects of the ‘old’ colonialism and more generally it could be argued that the Commonwealth has developed a neocolonial sense of paternalism toward Africa, drawing upon a distinctly British sense of moral obligation and responsibility to the continent. In both cases the meaning of the loss of Britain’s unmourned empire is still pending. Thus, it becomes critical to think about questions of responsibility in relation to the post-colonial and to think about the historical foundations of these senses of moral obligation and responsibility. The good governance agenda articulated by the Commonwealth and DFID has become an increasingly important means of influencing and controlling African states like Mozambique in the interests of the penetration of global capital. The Commonwealth is thus an important vehicle through which Britain competes with other first world countries to secure influence in Africa and it is important to recognise the significant economic benefits that accrue to Britain through Mozambique’s Commonwealth membership as well as the multiple opportunities the development industry creates for Britain, British companies and Britons in Mozambique. The Commonwealth’s contribution to the production of Mozambique as a governance state has facilitated and legitimated particular forms of administration and intervention such as that involving the Customs services reform (overseen by a ‘neocolonial’ British company). In this sense the Commonwealth is in many ways the ‘‘after-sales service of the British Empire” (Marshall cited in Srinivasan, 2005, p. 136). It is also a part of the ideological closure around development in Mozambique and is ultimately responsible for being complicit in the donor-dominated hegemony that forecloses the space for alternatives. Acknowledgements This research has been made possible by a grant from the Nuf- field Foundation. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Royal Geographical Society/Institute of British Geographers conference in London in August 2006 and the University of New- castle Upon Tyne in March 2007. I would also like to thank the edi- tors of this special issue, Pat, Clare and Parvati, for their support and encouragement in preparing this paper and the anonymous referees for their useful comments. The usual disclaimers apply. 1. Biccum (2005) argues that DFID’s Developments magazine is reminiscent of the efforts of the Empire Marketing Board. 2. Gordon Brown first visited Mozambique in December 2004 to meet with former President Joaquim Chissano and announced Britain’s cancellation of all Mozambique’s bilateral debt and that Britain would also pay 10% of the servicing of Mozambique’s debt to the World Bank. Brown noted that Mozambique was ‘‘making notable progress in poverty reduction” and that Britain should ‘‘join in promoting the country’s prosperity” (Brown cited in AIM January 19, 2005). 3. When the Commission published its report in March 2005 the term ‘responsi- bility’ appeared some 65 times, outlining for example ‘‘a historical responsibility to help Africa break free [of colonialism]” (CFA, 2005, p. 86). 4. The impetus for the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) came not from France but from Leopold Senghor of Senegal in 1965, seconded by Presidents Hamani Diori of Niger, Felix Houphouët Boigny of the Ivory Coast and Habib Bourguiba of Tunisia (Srinivasan, 2005). Since Senghor’s original proposal many OIF agencies have looked to the Commonwealth as a reference point. The OIF however has a budget three times the size of that of the Commonwealth. 5. There is little interaction between the governmental and non-governmental commonwealth organisations (e.g. at CHOGMs and Ministerial meetings where they are channelled into parallel conferences and consultation often seems tokenistic). 6. In 2003/2004 Mozambique contributed £69, 632, or 0.59% of the Secretariat budget, £25,000 to the CFTC budget (Commonwealth Secretariat, 2005). 7. The Commonwealth also comprises a number of freestanding bodies such as the Commonwealth Business Council (CBC) based in London. The CBC was set up at the 1997 CHOGM to involve the private sector in the promotion of trade and investment. 8. Portuguese mother-tongue speakers represent about 3% of the population of Mozambique whilst around 40% speak/understand the official language (Lopes, 1998). 9. CPLP meetings have even become a point of conflict between Mozambique and Portugal. At the July 2006 CPLP meeting in Bissau city, President Guebuza was very critical of Portugal’s failure to conclude the 2005 agreement for the transfer of ownership of the Cahora Bassa dam on the Zambezi river (the Portuguese state owns 82% of the Cahora Bassa operating company but claimed the transfer needed approval by the EU). 10. The SCFM was replaced in 1994 by the Commonwealth Capacity Building Facility for Mozambique, a technical co-operation project co-funded by AusAID Australia. 11. The Colonial Development Corporation (CDC), now the Commonwealth Devel- opment Corporation, was set up in 1948 but was established as a Public–Private Partnership in 1997 and now focuses on ‘emerging markets’ investing profits into new investments in poor countries. The CDC (which opened its Maputo office in 1995) has worked with the Commonwealth Secretariat to set up special funds to invest in private sector businesses in Commonwealth countries (CDC, 2005). 12. PARPA aims to reduce the incidence of absolute poverty from its 1999 level of 70% to less than 50% by 2010 but beyond Maputo ‘ownership’ of PARPA remains narrow and shallow (DFID, 2004). The Government has also set up a Poverty Observatory (PO) as a tool for government and its ‘partners’ to follow up the implementation of PARPA. 13. The port of Maputo was in 2004 leased out by the Mozambique Port Development Company (MPDC) for an initial 15-year period to a consortium led by Britain’s Mersey Docks and Harbour Company. Rui Fonseca, chair of the publicly-owned ports and rail company CFM recently described this as ‘‘completely wrong” and a ‘‘serious mistake” noting that the lease had been ‘‘imposed on Mozambique by foreign interests” and that the MPDC is not paying the agreed rent to CFM for its lease (AIM November 7, 2007). 14. The CDC was involved in the construction of the US$ 1.3 billion MOZAL aluminium smelter at Beluluane (near Maputo) that began in 2000 with CDC loan capital. This ‘mega-project’ has required an investment equal to 50% of GDP but only employs 1200 Mozambicans whilst the state receives only 4% of the dividends distributed. 15. Many of these figures take no account of the extent of Mozambican impover- ishment during the war or seem to acknowledge the low starting point from which the Mozambican economy has grown. 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Meghan and Harry Interview Raises Issue of Race in Commonwealth Countries

Meghan and Harry Interview Raises Issue of Race in Commonwealth Countries

Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, talks to children in Cape Town, South Africa, on a 2019 visit.(Courtney Africa / Pool Photo) In countries with historic ties to the U.K., allegations by Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, that someone in the royal household had “concerns” over their unborn baby’s skin color have raised a thorny question: Do those nations really want to be so closely connected to Britain and its reigning family anymore? It was expected that the bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey would expose more rifts within the royal family. Now it seems to be risking divisions within the “family” of the Commonwealth — an association of 54 countries, most of them former British colonies, held together by historic ties. For decades, Queen Elizabeth II has been the driving force behind the Commonwealth. After the TV interview, broadcast Sunday in the U.S. on the eve of Commonwealth Day, former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull cited it as another reason for the country to sever its constitutional ties to the British monarchy. “After the end of the queen’s reign, that is the time for us to say: ‘OK, we’ve passed that watershed,’” Turnbull told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. “Do we really want to have whoever happens to be the head of state, the king or queen of the U.K., automatically our head of state?” The value of the Commonwealth has been debated before, with critics questioning whether countries and peoples once colonized — and even oppressed — should remain in such an association with a former colonizer. Its stated aim is to improve international relations, but Britain’s relationship with the members has been clouded by diplomatic missteps and the legacy of empire. In a speech to mark Commonwealth Day on Monday, the queen spoke of “the spirit of unity.” Charismatic royals like Harry and Meghan have been deployed in the past to Commonwealth-related events with young people, businesses and volunteer groups. But their interview this week “opens our eyes further” on the merits of the Commonwealth, wrote Nicholas Sengoba, a newspaper columnist in the former colony of Uganda. He cited “unresolved issues” in his country relating to the abuses of colonialism and questioned whether the heads of Commonwealth countries should still be “proud to eat dinner” with members of the British royal family, considering the accusations. Meghan, who is biracial, said in the interview that an unidentified member of the royal family had raised “concerns” about the color of her baby with Harry when she was pregnant with her son, Archie, and that the palace failed to help her when she had suicidal thoughts. Buckingham Palace said Tuesday that the allegations of racism by Harry and Meghan were “concerning” and would be addressed privately by the royal family. Reaction to the interview was especially fierce in Africa. It was encapsulated by one Twitter user in South Africa who wrote: “It’s Britain and the royal family. What did you expect? They oppressed us for years.” Meghan and Harry traveled to South Africa in 2019, where their impending split with the royal family became clearer, and they even spoke of possibly living there. Mohammed Groenewald, who showed them around at a mosque in Cape Town, was still digesting the interview, which was shown in South Africa on Monday. But he said that, more than anything, it sparked memories of “British colonial racism.” “It comes out very clearly,” he said. In Kenya, a former colony where a young Princess Elizabeth was visiting in 1952 when she learned about the death of her father and thus that she was now queen, news of the interview also has begun appearing in the country’s newspapers. “We feel very angry seeing our fellow African sister being harassed because she is Black,” said Nairobi resident Sylvia Wangari, referring to Meghan. She added that Kenyans in 1952 did not show Elizabeth “any racism, and she stayed here without us showing her any discrimination.” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, which, like Australia, recognizes the British monarch as its head of state, declined to comment on the interview. He said many institutions in Canada were built around colonialism and systemic racism, including Parliament, and he said the answer was to listen to Canadians who face discrimination so that institutions can be fixed. “The answer is not to suddenly toss out all the institutions and start over,” Trudeau said. “I wish all the members of the royal family all the best, but my focus is getting through this pandemic. If people want to later talk about constitutional change and shifting our system of government, that’s fine, and they can have those conversations, but right now I’m not having those conversations.” Before moving to Southern California, Harry and Meghan lived briefly in Canada and considered permanently settling there. Jagmeet Singh, leader of the opposition New Democratic Party, said the British monarchy “is in no way beneficial to Canadians in terms of their everyday life.” “And with the systematic racism that we’ve seen, it seems to be in that institution as well,” he said. The interview was not shown on TV in India, the Commonwealth’s most populous member country, with 1.3 billion people. But it was covered by the media and drew negative reactions from the public toward the royals. The Commonwealth “is relevant to the royal family, of course, because it shows that they ruled so many places,” lawyer Sunaina Phul said. “I don’t know why we are still a part of it.” In Kingston, Jamaica, a retired professor said Meghan and Harry’s complaints of racism showed that it was time for her country to end its relationship with the royal family. “What it should mean for us is that we should jump up and get rid of the queen as the head of state,” Carolyn Cooper said. “It’s a disreputable institution. It’s responsible for the enslavement of millions of us who came here to work on plantations. It’s part of the whole legacy of colonialism, and we need to get rid of it.”
Can the Royal Family Cling on Much Longer

Can the Royal Family Cling on Much Longer

As the Queen marks 70 years on the throne, the Caribbean isn’t the only place ready to ditch the royal family Prince William and Kate Middleton are carried from a boat to their plane in Marau in Guadacanal Province, Solomon Islands, during a tour to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in 2012 | PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo The jubilee comes at a great time for Boris Johnson. What better way to get past partygate than with a massive party? No one makes a tougher human shield for a bunkered prime minister than that much-loved nonagenarian, great-granny to the nation. Elizabeth Windsor is only the fourth monarch in recorded human history to reach a platinum jubilee. In two years, she will overtake Thailand’s Rama IX and France’s Louis XIV to become the longest reigning sovereign ever. She’s done this not just by staying alive, but also by managing one of the world’s most successful media-celebrity machines through the most radical transformation of communications technology since the printing press was invented. Despite this, it all feels a little desperate; like the Windsors are clinging on. Her immense personal popularity means little will change while she’s alive. But there’s a sense in the air: while she won’t be the last of her line, she will be the last of her kind. Blood, spunk and divine appointment There is another reason the Queen has lasted so long. Unlike some of her European contemporaries, she hasn’t abdicated. As she sees it, she can’t: she didn’t choose the job, but was appointed by a deity to whom she made promises at her coronation. While the divine rights of British monarchs went out with Cromwell, they are still crowned by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and claim legitimacy through an ancient line they believe was chosen by God. Specifically, Elizabeth was crowned by Geoffrey Fisher, who had been Archbishop of London during the Blitz, in an overwhelmingly faithful, Christian country. When Justin Welby or his successor anoints Charles, it’s hard to see them commanding the same symbology. Today, only a quarter of British people believe in God, never mind the Anglican version, never mind that said deity personally selects heads of state. Wisely, the palace’s spin doctors tone down the God stuff. Instead, they promote a modern idea that the Queen is ‘head of nation’. In this reinvented formulation, monarchy is the notion that the DNA of a nation is transmitted through ovulation and ejaculation. William is second in line, the theory goes, because Charles’s semen is some kind of sloopy magic juice which confers authority on its progeny. I know. Gross. Also, racist. The idea that qualification to reign grows from a genetic trace, that Britishness comes not from living here, but out of your parents’ genitals and into your blood, doesn’t exactly encourage multiculturalism. And nor does the fact that the monarch leads the Church of England. Racisms against religious minorities, like Islamophobia, tear through Europe. In Britain, we have a constitutional problem with confronting them: when bigots spit ‘this is a Christian country,’ they aren’t entirely wrong. Elizabeth II is Defender of the Faith. One theorist frequently cited to justify these ideas is the Victorian Walter Bagehot, who loved the mysticism of it all, arguing that Britain’s political system is better understood not through the balance of powers familiar from America, but from a split between the ‘dignified’ and the ‘efficient’. The purpose of the ‘dignified’ or ‘theatrical’ parts of the constitution – primarily the monarchy – is to ‘excite and preserve the reverence of the population’ so that the ‘efficient’ parts can more easily govern us. The great justifier of modern British monarchy was a noxious snob and racist whose ideas should be handled only with latex gloves Bagehot believed this was important, because “the lower and middle orders” were “narrow minded,” “intellectually incurious,” “coarse,” “dull,” “poor and stupid” – “the vacant many” and “the clownish mass”. Important in bringing scientific racism to the heart of British thinking, he also raged against the mixing of races, arguing that certain ‘lineages’ are morally superior. The great justifier of modern British monarchy was a noxious snob and racist whose ideas should be handled only with latex gloves. More recently, Oxford professor Vernon Bogdanor has argued that the Queen’s “political neutrality” allows her to “interpret the country to itself”. But the idea that the mirror in which we see ourselves is inherited is profoundly political. Placing it at the centre of a national story is a way of warping a whole country to the right. British politics is built around the class system. For centuries, the Tories have been the political wing of the hereditary ruling class, while the monarchy is its propaganda wing, endlessly telling us that some people are born to rule, others are not, and that’s the natural order of things. The connections aren’t just theoretical. Ben Elliot, the Conservative Party chair, is Prince Charles’s nephew. Charles’ charity relies on Tory donors. William went to the same school as Boris Johnson. England votes Tory more than any other country votes for one party because the Tories represent the ruling class and Anglo-British nationalism is a story whose moral is that posh people should rule. Diminishing Britishness Another feature of Anglo-British nationalism is denial of its own existence. As the writer Tom Nairn has long argued, much of the English ruling class can’t stand the idea that it’s ‘merely’ English, preferring to attach itself to a mysterious imperialist notion of international Britishness. And this feeling, too, is tied to the Windsors. By my count, the Queen reigns over 43 states or territories, including 15 independent countries, 14 British overseas territories, three Crown dependencies, two New Zealand associated states, two New Zealand dependent territories and seven Australian external territories. She still has more subjects outside the UK than in it, arguably reigns over parts of every continent on Earth – if St Helena, Ascension and Tristan De Cunha are African – and lays claim to 99% of Oceania, 58% of Antarctica and 42% of North America. But if the purpose of the monarchy is to excite feelings of Britishness, perhaps the most remarkable thing about Elizabeth II’s reign is how they have dwindled. Until 1946, all of the monarch’s subjects everywhere in the empire were simply British nationals, whether they came from Canberra, Kingstown, Kampala or Kensington. Britishness was global, rooted in racial hierarchy, with its core firmly in the imperial capital and home counties, and a periphery across the planet. In 1946, first Canada and then other colonies started granting their own citizenships and, in 1948, Westminster in turn made British citizenship an umbrella for all of these. But within a decade of Elizabeth’s coronation, this version of Britishness was folding up. The government responded to a racist backlash against people of colour coming to the UK by passing laws in 1962, 1968 and 1971 that narrowed down which British citizens could live here. The palace itself banned “coloured or foreign” people from clerical roles. In 1981, the ’48 act was abolished, and British citizenship became (mostly) about a direct relationship with this archipelago. Because of these shifting laws, Commonwealth citizens who are 75 or older were, legally, British before they were Australian or Canadian or Singaporian or Nigerian. For baby boomers and Gen-Xers, it’s more complicated – different colonies followed their own paths to independence, often with their own heads of state. And millennials and younger people have always simply been citizens of their home country, with connection to Britain increasingly remote. The end of the British Caribbean? The Royal African Company shipped more enslaved African people to America than any other institution. A personal venture of Charles II and his brother, the Duke of York, later James II and VII, the firm 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. One of the most common destinations was Britain’s Caribbean colonies, their indigenous peoples having been murdered in waves of genocide. Today, of the 15 countries where the Queen is Queen, nine are in or around the Caribbean. Until November 2021, there was a tenth. Barbados is sometimes called ‘Little England’ due to its similarity and supposed loyalty to its coloniser. But in 1996, it held a constitutional convention. “We did all of these public hearings over two years… there was overwhelming support for becoming a republic,” says Melanie Newton, who was the youth representative on the commission and is now a University of Toronto history professor specialising in the Caribbean. The convention recommended Barbados ditch the monarchy, but it was only last year that it became the first of the Queen’s realms to go independent since Fiji in 1987. Why now? I asked Newton. The Black Lives Matter movement was vital, she says, as was “a decade of [the anti-colonial movement] Rhodes Must Fall” and the longer-running movement for slavery reparations. Partly, geopolitics has shifted, she says. Caribbean countries are less reliant on British investment. And partly, it’s about Britain. She cites David Cameron’s visit to Jamaica in 2015. He was asked for reparations and instead offered to pay for a prison, an obvious racist trope – “that was a big deal”. She highlights the Windrush scandal. “Most Caribbean people my age and older have relations who live in the UK,” she says. These were the people who suffered. “And then there’s Brexit, and how racist and unsavoury and xenophobic that movement was. What is this tie? This place clearly does not want any relationship with us.” Now that Barbados has made the move, and it has been successful and popular, other Caribbean realms are following – as William and Kate discovered on a Jubilee tour in March. I predict that in ten years there will be one realm left, and it will be what’s left of the UKTom Freda In the Bahamas, senior political figures said the country was “ready” to become a republic. In Jamaica, protesters demanded an apology and reparations for slavery, and the prime minister told the couple that his country was “moving on” from monarchy. In Belize, protesters highlighted the “colonial legacy of theft,” and tensions between a conservation charity William supports and indigenous people. After the royals left, the government launched a “People’s Constitutional Commission”, part of the continuing “decolonisation process,” which is expected to recommend republicanism. William and Kate were followed by the Queen’s youngest son Edward and his wife Sophie. The prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda told them that his country intended to become a republic once the Queen died. The deputy prime minister of St Kitts and Nevis used their tour to say: “The time has come… to review its monarchical system.” And In St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines, Edward and Sophie were met by reparations protesters and the most popular radio host in the former slammed their visit. The death of global Britain “I predict that in ten years there will be one realm left, and it will be what’s left of the UK,” says Tom Freda, the national director of Citizens for a Canadian Republic, speaking to me from Toronto. In Canada, only 26% of people want to keep the monarchy past the Queen’s reign. The country’s only major pro-monarchy political party, the Conservatives, have been out of power since 2015. Freda points to Black Lives Matter and increasing colonial introspection, and the fact that many Canadian migrant communities find the whole thing “baffling” – they have to pledge allegiance to “Queen Elizabeth II and all her heirs and successors” to gain citizenship. With Barbados going first, he says “the avalanche has started… we have everything aligning” to replace the monarchy once the Queen dies. Melanie Newton is less confident. “There is an attachment that is deeply tied up with the privileges of whiteness,” she says. “It would open up a whole host of conversations here about race, rights and citizenship. Most Canadians believe the myth that there was no slavery here, that there is a way to reconcile the history with indigenous people without opening up this question. “There is an unwillingness to reopen those issues.” As a result, says Newton, while there isn’t much support for the monarchy, most prefer to avoid the subject. The last Queen of Australia? There were more than a million indigenous Australians and Torres Strait Islanders when James Cook landed on the continent in April 1770 on a voyage commissioned by George III, the Queen’s grandmother’s great-grandfather. When Australia federated in 1901, there were around 100,000. While many died of diseases the British brought, tens of thousands were murdered. The genocide continued, with the state kidnapping indigenous children until the 1970s. Government policy changed with the election of Labor prime minister Gough Whitlam in 1972, who ended racist ‘White Australia’ policies, founded a set of Indigenous institutions, and gave some groups deeds to their land. The Queen’s representative, governor general John Kerr, used a budget crisis to sack Whitlam as prime minister in 1975, replacing him with the unelected right-wing opposition leader, and then shut parliament to stop it reappointing him. Letters between Kerr and the Palace from the time were secret until 2020, when the historian Jenny Hocking finally got them released. They showed “the involvement of the palace in every step Kerr took, and every decision he made, regarding the dismissal of Gough Whitlam”, Hocking said. After they were published, support for abolition surged above 60%. The explicitly republican Labor party won this month’s elections. New prime minister Anthony Albanese has campaigned for abolition and appointed an assistant minister for the republic. And the Greens, who now hold the balance of power in the upper house, are vocal republicans. If Australia goes, so will its seven external territories, including the Christmas Islands, Norfolk Islands and more than half of Antarctica. New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Adern, is openly republican. Although polling doesn’t show much desire for change, the chair of New Zealand Republic, Lewis Holden, says enthusiastic support for the monarchy there is sparse – mostly gathered in the Second World War generation. “You do get young fogy types,” he says, but “support for the monarchy has been ground down to a very, very narrow form of conservatism. They are people who are very, very interested in British and specifically English history; they talk about Brexit in positive terms. In New Zealand now, that’s very strange.” When New Zealand becomes a republic, its dependencies and associated states – Tokelau, the Antarctic Ross Dependency, Niue and the Cook Islands – will too, says Holden. Not united and not a kingdom Support for the monarchy appears strong in the UK. In Great Britain, only the Greens and Plaid Cymru oppose it; Labour hasn’t even debated opposing it since its 1923 conference. And headline polling figures show 61% support for the monarchy. But much of that is shallow, with enthusiasm very concentrated, both demographically and geographically. After what the Queen called her ‘annus horribilis’ in 1992, openDemocracy’s founder Anthony Barnett organised a major conference on the monarchy, with a range of cultural figures. Before then, he said, it would have been impossible. “It was like a religious taboo. Any attempt to talk about the role of the monarchy was regarded as a personal attack on the Queen, and she was a fetish object. You couldn’t talk about her, she was above everything – you couldn’t touch the royal mantle. It was regarded as scandalous". When the Sex Pistols released God Save the Queen ahead of her silver jubilee in 1977, the BBC banned all its DJs from playing it. But with Andrew and Charles’ divorces in the 1990s, the Windsor fire, and, more than anything, Diana, “the sanctity of the monarchy was broken”. Young adults (18 to 24) in the UK are now, for the first time, more likely to oppose monarchy than support it. Royalism is heavily concentrated in people born before 1970. And while some corners of the country will smear themselves in clashing red, white and blue this weekend, most don’t plan to celebrate. A poll in Scotland this month showed only 45% still back the monarchy. Northern Ireland has its first ever republican first minister-designate. Loyalism means specifically loyalty to the Crown, and its ongoing crisis is a crisis for the Windsors as much as for Westminster: vocal monarchism is associated with one increasingly unpopular, past-it fringe. A poll in 2019 found that West Wales, the Valleys and parts of Cardiff were some of the least royalist parts of the UK. Liverpool fans booing William earlier this month were a reminder that some of that spirit extends north into Merseyside. Spend time in Cornwall or Scilly and you’ll quickly discover the Duchy isn’t a popular landlord. The last few years have seen the royal family put cash on the line to protect Prince Andrew from potentially horrific allegations emerging into the light, while shunning Harry after he married a mixed-race woman with a mind of her own. At the same time, notions of Britishness have taken a battering as a zombie English nationalism emerges from the imperial deathbed. The tabloid machine on which the monarchy has depended for a generation has been weakened by emerging social media, which it has yet to master, and the state which it exists to protect from the ire of its people has slashed and degraded itself again and again and again, from the invasion of Iraq to a decade of austerity to Boris Johnson. If the Jubilee comes at a good time for the prime minister, then partygate came at a terrible moment for the Queen. It’s one thing for the monarchy to excite the reverence of the British people so the government can plunder the biggest empire in human history. It’s another to be used to cover up vomit stains on the Downing Street carpet.
The Royal Family’s Continental Drift

The Royal Family’s Continental Drift

Two brothers, alike in dignity, among the British monarchy where we lay our scene, are grappling with ancient grudges. Will it—should it—be mended? BEFORE SHE WAS Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle referred to herself as “Rango’s mermaid.” The phrase comes from French-Cuban writer Anaïs Nin’s autobiographical novel The Four-Chambered Heart, which Meghan quoted often in her Suits era: “I must be a mermaid, Rango. I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.” Meghan wanted more than middling cable TV success. Elizabeth Tuke, her publicist from 2014 to 2016, encouraged her to go out for blockbusters. “You could be the next Megan Fox,” Tuke told her. Instead, she embarked on a USO tour to Afghanistan, Spain, Italy, Turkey, and England; traveled to Rwanda to build wells for clean water; and campaigned against menstrual poverty among schoolgirls in India. “She is this superambitious woman,” Tuke added, which shouldn’t be a dirty word. Meghan did press Q&As in her car on the way to set at four in the morning and affirmed her respect for Tuke’s role in their written agreement, with language that declared Meghan would “never minimize me as a person or my prowess in the field.” Her advocacy peaked in what was, at least by March 2015, one of the biggest nights of her life: a speech at the U.N. Women conference. Meghan flew herself to New York and stayed with her mom, Doria Ragland, at the Peninsula Hotel. Tuke lent Meghan her own dress, a black design by Preen with a deep V-neck, and they shed happy tears in the hotel room. “We clinked Champagne glasses, we hugged, we bounced up and down,” said Tuke, who runs her own boutique public relations agency. “It was like she was going off to get married.” The same qualities that made Meghan a superstar—that she’s outspoken and passionate about women’s rights and, as a biracial woman, has a unique ability to connect with people who feel voiceless—made her uniquely qualified for modern duchesshood. They also rendered her a threat. As Prince Harry divulged to Oprah, his family welcomed Meghan until they “got to see how incredible she is at the job” during the couple’s 2019 South Pacific tour. “That brought back memories.” Not happy ones, was his implication. Harry hams it up for the crowd. PHOTOGRAPH BY TIM GRAHAM PHOTO LIBRARY/GETTY IMAGES. Diana captures Australia’s heart during a 1983 royal tour. PHOTOGRAPH BY TIM GRAHAM PHOTO LIBRARY/GETTY IMAGES. Princess Diana dazzled with her youth, beauty, and former nursery teacher’s touch, crouching to hug small children, in stark contrast with royal women who extended their gloved hands in greeting. During a 1981 visit to Wales in which frothing crowds lined the streets, subjects cried for Diana and all but groaned at Prince Charles. “The princess had everything going for her except the ability to not upstage the prince,” Prince Charles’s valet Stephen Barry once said. (Soon after, she outshone Queen Elizabeth at the opening of Parliament. Rather than the literal throne, all anyone really cared about was the fresh-faced Diana in white satin David Sassoon and the lover’s knot tiara.) After Wales, Diana “had expected to be lavished with praise by the Palace for her heroic efforts, but no response was forthcoming,” Tina Brown wrote in The Diana Chronicles. “Diana couldn’t understand why nobody said ‘Well done,’ recalled a former Palace aide.” Perhaps because, like Meghan, she exposed the monarchy’s wooden ways. Like Diana in her day, “Harry and Meghan were suddenly too electric,” said Anna Pasternak, author of The Real Wallis Simpson: A New History of the American Divorcee Who Became the Duchess of Windsor. “They made the Cambridges”—Bill and Cathy, goes the joke—“seem dowdy, suburban, and rather dull. That does not go down well in the palace.” For continuity’s sake, the House of Windsor prefers to train the spotlight on the monarch and her direct heirs—hence the 2019 Christmas portrait in which only the queen, Prince Charles, Prince William, and Prince George made a performative pudding. Three decades later, Meghan was staring down the paradox that had plagued her mother-in-law: The royal family demands duty from the women who marry in—to relinquish normal life (and their passports, according to Meghan) in service of the Crown. But if they’re too sparkly, the palace, like a sullen teen, gets jealous and resentful. It’s a no-win predicament familiar to women, and women of color in particular: You’re either too much or never enough. When Meghan and Harry announced their decision to step back as senior royals last year, the fusty palace establishment “started to push Meghan and Harry away completely,” Diane Abbott, the first Black female member of Parliament and former shadow home secretary, told Vanity Fair. Instead of protecting the monarchy, the Firm’s alleged unsupportive treatment of the Sussexes has only lurched the institution into existential crisis, fueling questions about its colonial roots and Britain’s systemically racist present. “The queen is a figurehead for an empire that refuses to understand that its days are gone,” said Kelechi Okafor, London-based host of the Say Your Mind pop culture podcast. “Diana came along…and then Meghan Markle came along, and everything started to fall to pieces.” AT THE HEART of the most explosive royal scandal since Diana and Charles divorced are their sons, brothers William and Harry. Now 38 and 36, respectively, they’re seared into the collective memory as solemn adolescents who shuffled behind their mother’s coffin, remaining collected while strangers across the world wailed. As Harry told Oprah, “We’ve been through hell together.” Prince William and Harry bow their heads at Diana’s funeral. PHOTOGRAPH BY ADAM BUTLER/PA IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES. For two decades after their mother’s death, William and Harry ran in the same posh, polo-playing Eton social circle, partied at Mahiki with mutual friend Guy Pelly and later stood at each other’s side at the altars of Westminster Abbey and St. George’s Chapel as best man on each other’s royal wedding days. For a long time, Harry was a merry third wheel and fun uncle to the Cambridge kids, but “Kate and William getting married and having children really exposed to Harry that he, too, wanted to have a family,” said Harry’s friend and former British Army training partner Dean Stott. Never mind that each of William and Kate’s children bumped Harry further down the line of succession, making the constraints of royal life seem increasingly redundant. With their marriages, their personalities seemed to diverge, and so did their roles within the family business. William, the stoic elder brother and heir, finally wed Kate Middleton, his English rose from St. Andrews, on and off for the better part of a decade before their 2011 nuptials. They seldom so much as hold hands in public. The rakish, emotional Harry took longer to settle down (see also: strip billiards in Las Vegas) but fell hard for Meghan, the first biracial, divorced American royal bride ever, in a whirlwind 18 months. William reportedly expressed concern about Harry and Meghan’s romance, telling his brother, according to royal correspondents Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand’s Finding Freedom, to “take as much time as you need to get to know this girl.” The brotherly bond further frayed as their wives navigated their own relationship, including the now infamous clash over bridesmaids dresses. While friends of Meghan, including Jessica Mulroney and Lindsay Roth, have spoken out in her defense, many in Harry’s circle have remained quiet because they’re friends with both princes. As Stott said, “You can’t go against one or the other.” Together, the brothers Wales might have represented a new generation of royal. Instead, “William and Harry are playing out the dynamic of their parents,” Pasternak says. Harry tracks with Diana, a rebel spirit fueled by fury at the tabloid press, blowing up the family’s cone of silence in a blockbuster interview. Meanwhile, she says, “William is very aligned with his father in his sense of duty above emotion.” The direct heirs remain apolitical almost to the point of ridiculousness, sidestepping the issue of racism in the process. For all their philanthropic efforts, the royals were notably silent during the Black Lives Matter movement last spring. “We’re talking about bloodline,” said Kenya Hunt, author of Girl Gurl Grrrl: On Womanhood and Belonging in the Age of Black Girl Magic and deputy editor at Grazia UK. “How does a conversation about racial equality and diversity jive with this institution that boils down to a single white Protestant family?” As president of the Football Association, William has spoken out against racism in the sport before, including in January, when he condemned “despicable” abuse against Manchester United player Marcus Rashford. In the fallout of the Oprah interview, the Duke of Cambridge found himself making a rare public statement to declare, “We’re very much not a racist family.” “It begs the question: Why didn’t you speak up against racism put out against your own sister-in-law?” says Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, Ph.D., the British intersectional feminist activist and author of This Is Why I Resist: Don’t Define My Black Identity. Princess Diana gave a sensational interview in 1995. PHOTOGRAPH BY CORBIS/GETTY IMAGES. Prince Harry has repeatedly described himself and Prince William as “on different paths.” While the elder brother inches closer to the throne, Harry and Meghan are unmuzzled in Montecito, California, on the brink of becoming philanthropic media moguls à la the Obamas, between their Archewell organization and plum deals with Spotify and Netflix. Harry has gone from working royal to working as chief impact officer at mental health startup BetterUp. Forced to formally relinquish their royal patronages, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have pledged to continue “a life of service.” The partners listed under Archewell’s nonprofit arm seem hatched from their own lived experiences, including activist Rachel Cargle’s Loveland Foundation, which focuses on providing affordable mental health resources to Black women and girls, and the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford Medicine. “Going through their own struggles has given them an acute awareness of suffering,” says James R. Doty, M.D., CCARE’s director (the Dalai Lama is a founding benefactor). When Doty met with Meghan and Harry at Stanford last year, “they were very down-to-earth. They were thoughtful, they were inquisitive…and they seem intelligent and self-aware,” he said. “I’ve been in situations where people ask to get involved and…it’s for their own self-interest,” he added. “My sense is that they are extraordinarily engaged and this concept of compassion deeply resonates with them.” During her Makers conversation with Gloria Steinem last August, Meghan mentioned Algorithms of Oppression, a book by Safiya Umoja Noble, Ph.D., cofounder and codirector of the UCLA Center for Critical Internet Inquiry and a leading scholar on the harms of the internet to Black women and girls. Around the same time, Noble received an email from the duke and duchess’s chief of staff requesting a meeting: “I was like, ‘Is this a scam?’ ” she laughed. Meghan and her mother, Doria Ragland, wave to wedding well-wishers.PHOTOGRAPH BY OLI SCARFF/AFP/GETTY IMAGES. After meeting with Meghan and Harry—both “avid readers,” according to Noble—she and the center became one of the Archewell foundation’s five named partners. “The way that I understand it from Meghan,” Noble says of her book, “is that it helped her make sense of her own experience of being trolled in these racist and sexist ways.” Clickbait targeting women of color and vulnerable communities is lucrative, Noble explained, and Meghan was being treated like a commodity. “That wasn’t just specific to her, although it was,” Noble adds. “She was caught in a system too.” Harry recently joined Katie Couric and Kathryn Murdoch, among others, as a commissioner on the Aspen Institute’s Commission on Information Disorder. Meghan is poised to reimagine her past lifestyle influencing, according to Tuke: “Netflix and Spotify are essentially the Instagram to her Tig.” Expectations are high for Team Sussex’s next move, with political rumors swirling around Meghan, due to give birth to a daughter this summer. But supporters say the duchess should also be afforded space to heal after sharing a traumatic experience in high public fashion. Nelini Stamp, national organizing director at the Working Families Party, says, “If a Black woman goes through harm, she doesn’t have to solve it for other people right away.” Doty, who said he Zoomed with the couple the day before our interview, pointed to the vitriol that’s been directed at them even after airing their mental health struggles. “Some people go, ‘Well, you signed up for it. You should have been prepared for this.’ I’m not sure anyone can prepare for this.” THE BRITISH MONARCHY is built on mystique and magic, the wonder of real-life princes and princesses and a life altogether unlike our own. But their latest family feud chips away at the idea of royal exceptionalism. To hear Meghan and Harry tell it, the Windsors are just another dysfunctional family; the Firm, one more toxic workplace where H.R. is not your friend and there’s a lack of diversity in upper management. Diana and Prince Charles pose for their 1981 wedding photo. PHOTOGRAPH BY DAVID LEVENSON/GETTY IMAGES. “When you’re talking about Buckingham Palace, it’s tempting to think you’re just talking about individual members of the royal family,” Abbott says. “Actually, there are so many courtiers and advisers and staff. They’re the people that actually run the royal household and advise the queen and Prince Charles.” (Princess Diana lamented the presence of shadowy “men in gray.” Long before her, Wallis Simpson told Prince Edward: “It is the job of the courtiers to turn everyone against me.”) Harry and Meghan at their Windsor Castle ceremony. PHOTOGRAPH BY OWEN HUMPHREYS/POOL/GETTY IMAGES. As a member of Parliament since 1987 and one of many women in it who signed a public letter condemning the “colonial undertones” in tabloid narratives about Meghan, Abbott says this coterie strikes a “monolithically white, male, and upper class” profile—what Bonnie Greer, the American-British playwright and former deputy chair of the British Museum, calls “bloke culture.” According to Stott, who has raised money for the Royal Foundation, formerly shared by the Cambridges and Harry, stiff palace staffers “feel like they’re protecting them, but actually they’re doing a disservice to the royal family.” The labor movement had a moment when Meghan alleged that human resources denied her request for mental health resources, even as she had suicidal thoughts while pregnant, because she wasn’t a paid employee. “In my old job, there was a union,” she said of the Screen Actors Guild, “and they would protect me.” The Firm is “like a classic corporate boss,” Stamp said, comparing the Sussexes’ exit to Britney Spears ceasing work under her father’s conservatorship: “Meghan and Harry actually went ‘Buh-bye, we’re withdrawing our labor.’ ” The entrenched male establishment at the palace seems unlikely to engage with the racial firestorm now burning outside. Meghan and Harry’s allegations of racism within the royal ranks is fueling a deeper reckoning on race in Britain. “If you can treat a princess that way,” said Parliament member Dawn Butler, “just imagine what ordinary Black women go through every single day.” Just as the 1619 Project sparked a reexamination of the founding fathers as enslavers in the U.S., an interrogation of the monarchy’s colonial roots is under way, including its integral role in the British slave trade (Prince Charles called it an “atrocity” in 2018; the queen has never commented). The crown that would sit atop Kate Middleton’s head as queen consort is forged with the estimated $300 million Koh-I-Noor diamond, which has a “bloody history,” writes Smithsonian magazine: Britain has maintained the gem is a gift, while India’s Ministry of Culture has called for its return, saying it was seized during colonial conquest. Meghan shares a laugh with Queen Elizabeth II in 2018. PHOTOGRAPH BY JEFF J. MITCHELL/GETTY IMAGES. Traditionalists point to the queen’s affection for the Commonwealth, a union of 54 nations including Australia, Canada, and many majority Black and brown member states like India, Jamaica, Barbados, and the Bahamas—almost all of which were once British colonies. Meghan had the signature flowers of 53 embroidered into her wedding veil, a gesture of her commitment. But the pretense is getting “harder to sell to colonial subjects of color, particularly Black people who are descended from slaves,” Jamaican writer Kitanya Harrison said. “The British are very good at subjugating people and making it seem civilized.” The whiff of colonialism lingers: Prime Minister Boris Johnson has referred to citizens of the Commonwealth as “flag-waving piccaninnies.” In 2018, immigrants who had come to the U.K. from several Caribbean Commonwealth countries during the “Windrush” era of 1948 to 1971 were wrongfully detained and deported. In Jamaica, the Queen’s English remains deeply ingrained as a superior language to the native patois. When recently given the opportunity to waive a patent key to the development of COVID-19 vaccines, the U.K. was among the wealthy nations who declined to share it with developing Commonwealth countries like India and South Africa. “Colonialism never really ended,” Harrison wrote in an essay for Medium after the Oprah interview. “It changed clothes and lowered its voice a bit.” Harrison didn’t watch the royal wedding or celebrate the representation of a biracial woman in the monarchy, calling it an “assimilationist fantasy.... Why do so many people seem to covet a seat at a table they should want to flip and set ablaze?” THE MONARCHY HAS WEATHERED many storms—1992’s “annus horribilis,” when three of the queen’s four children split from their spouses and her beloved Windsor Castle caught fire, comes to mind. So does the present hypocrisy of launching a formal investigation into vague reports alleging that Meghan bullied staffers while Prince Andrew, a onetime acquaintance of Jeffrey Epstein and an accused pedophile, lies in wait, safely ensconced at grace-and-favor property Royal Lodge. (Andrew has denied the allegations that he forced Virginia Giuffre to have sex when she was 17.) But Harry and Meghan’s potent, public allegations of racism and negligence pose a specific threat to Prince Charles’s long-awaited (by him) ascension. Reigning 69 years and counting, Queen Elizabeth commands a level of broad popularity and respect, even among non-royalists, that Charles simply does not. Harry’s revelation that he feels “really let down” by his father and The Crown’s recent excavation of Charles’s affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles while married to Diana did the heir no favors. Charles, Camilla, and Meghan attend the Prince of Wales’s 70th birthday garden party. PHOTOGRAPH BY CHRIS JACKSON/GETTY IMAGES. “I think the monarchy as we know it will last as long as the queen is alive,” Abbott said. After her death, “I think there will be a big public debate…and I think what the royal family and their advisers did with Meghan will be part of the argument for change.” Abbott anticipates the debate to reach the floor of Parliament, with a “clamor to look at the current arrangement and maybe move to a more Scandinavian monarchy, where you don’t have all the pomp and ceremony.” “I’m not 100 percent sure that we will see Charles ascend to the throne,” Pasternak said. “The Sussexes have sparked something so fundamentally incendiary in this country that it is changing the face of Britain, and I think the monarchy as an archaic institution may well topple.” Busting the palace’s meticulous Operation London Bridge succession plan for the queen’s death would seem unlikely, but “it may be that there is such a groundswell of public opinion against [Charles] that it’s deemed by the firm preferable for William to ascend then because he’s younger, more relatable.” Without Queen Elizabeth holding the Commonwealth together, member states are likely to drop out, predicts Martin Wiener, Ph.D., a research professor at Rice University specializing in British history: “It’d be like, ‘Who wants Charles to be our head? We’re stuck with Charles.’ ” THE MONARCHY’S SAVING GRACE may rely on a reunion. That happened briefly at the private funeral for Prince Philip, where the brothers were photographed walking together and speaking. One can only wonder what they spoke of—and whether topics included how some of the earliest coverage outright blamed Harry and Meghan’s interview for Philip’s death. Another opportunity for William and Harry to be together will present itself in July, at the unveiling of a statue of Princess Diana on what would have been her 60th birthday at Kensington Palace’s Sunken Garden. The royal media seems assured that William and Harry, along with Kate and Meghan—the short-lived “Fab Four”—are “still committed” to appear together. Others deem it “unthinkable.” (Although her due date has not been announced, Meghan will give birth some time this summer.) “Both sides are like wounded animals,” Pasternak said. “Harry said there’s been an awful lot of hurt. Well, there’s been an awful lot of hurt now on the side of the Windsors from this interview.” Peter Phillips walks between his cousins Prince William and Prince Harry in the funeral procession for their grandfather, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, at Windsor Castle. PHOTOGRAPH BY BY CHRIS JACKSON/WPA POOL/GETTY IMAGES. A young Harry perches atop his mother’s shoulders.PHOTOGRAPH BY TIM GRAHAM PHOTO LIBRARY/GETTY IMAGES. Public opinion is divided along generational lines: According to post–Oprah interview polling, 36 percent of Britons still support the queen and the monarchy while 22 percent sympathize with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (28 percent are indifferent). But only 16 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds back the Crown, compared to 60 percent of the 65-plus set, who believe Harry and Meghan were treated fairly. Prince Harry and Meghan’s Oprah sit-down drew 21.3 million viewers on CBS. PHOTOGRAPH BY JOE PUGLIESE/CBS. For Harry, returning home could amount to walking back into the viper pit: “There would be front-page headlines saying, ‘After all the damage you’ve done, you should keep away from here forever,’ ” said Peter York, coauthor of The Official Sloane Ranger Handbook. After the abuse lobbed at her by the tabloid press, “I truly wonder if Meghan will ever set foot on British soil again,” Pasternak speculated. But the optics of a broader reunion are certainly desirable for a Crown in crisis: “The ideal reconciliation will be if, in some way, the queen can engineer it while she’s still around,” York said. “It would serve the monarchy to show that, as it were, brotherly love, grandmotherly love, had triumphed.” As Harry told Oprah: “Time heals all things, hopefully.” Before long, William will have “arguably one of the most important jobs in the world, and he’s going to need the support of the person who has been his right-hand man since he was a child,” said Myka Meier, founder of Beaumont Etiquette. “There’s nobody that knows him quite like Harry.” Prince Harry and Prince William at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London in 2006. PHOTOGRAPH BY MARK STEWART/CAMERA PRESS/REDUX.
In Commonwealth, Queens Jubilee Draws Protests and Apathy

In Commonwealth, Queens Jubilee Draws Protests and Apathy

Queen Elizabeth II is widely viewed in the U.K. as a rock in turbulent times after seven decades on the throne LONDON (AP) — After seven decades on the throne, Queen Elizabeth II is widely viewed in the U.K. as a rock in turbulent times. But in Britain's former colonies, many see her as an anchor to an imperial past whose damage still lingers. So while the U.K. is celebrating the queen’s Platinum Jubilee — 70 years on the throne — with pageantry and parties, some in the Commonwealth are using the occasion to push for a formal break with the monarchy and the colonial history it represents. “When I think about the queen, I think about a sweet old lady,” said Jamaican academic Rosalea Hamilton, who campaigns for her country to become a republic. “It’s not about her. It’s about her family’s wealth, built on the backs of our ancestors. We’re grappling with the legacies of a past that has been very painful.” The empire that Elizabeth was born into is long gone, but she still reigns far beyond Britain’s shores. She is head of state in 14 other nations, including Canada, Australia, Papua New Guinea and the Bahamas. Until recently it was 15 — Barbados cut ties with the monarchy in November, and several other Caribbean countries, including Jamaica, say they plan to follow suit. Britain’s jubilee celebrations, which climax over a four-day holiday weekend starting Thursday, aim to recognize the diversity of the U.K. and the Commonwealth. A huge jubilee pageant through central London on Sunday will feature Caribbean Carnival performers and Bollywood dancers. But Britain’s image of itself as a welcoming and diverse society has been battered by the revelation that hundreds, and maybe thousands, of people from the Caribbean who had lived legally in the U.K. for decades were denied housing, jobs or medical treatment — and in some cases deported — because they didn’t have the paperwork to prove their status. The British government has apologized and agreed to pay compensation, but the Windrush scandal has caused deep anger, both in the U.K. and in the Caribbean. A jubilee-year trip to Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas in March by the queen’s grandson Prince William and his wife Kate, which was intended to strengthen ties, appears to have had the opposite effect. Images of the couple shaking hands with children through a chain-link fence and riding in an open-topped Land Rover in a military parade stirred echoes of colonialism for many. Cynthia Barrow-Giles, professor of political science at the University of the West Indies, said the British “seem to be very blind to the visceral sort of reactions” that royal visits elicit in the Caribbean. Protesters in Jamaica demanded Britain pay reparations for slavery, and Prime Minister Andrew Holness politely told William that the country was “moving on,” a signal that it planned to become a republic. The next month, Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne told the queen’s son Prince Edward that his country, too, would one day remove the queen as head of state. William acknowledged the strength of feeling and said the future “is for the people to decide upon.” “We support with pride and respect your decisions about your future,” he said in the Bahamas. “Relationships evolve. Friendship endures.” When then Princess Elizabeth became queen on the death of her father King George VI 1952, she was in Kenya. The East African country became independent in 1963 after years of violent struggle between a liberation movement and colonial troops. In 2013, the British government apologized for the torture of thousands of Kenyans during the 1950s “Mau Mau” uprising and paid millions in an out-of-court settlement. Memories of the empire are still raw for many Kenyans. “From the start, her reign would be indelibly stained by the brutality of the empire she presided over and that accompanied its demise,” said Patrick Gathara, a Kenyan cartoonist, writer and commentator. “To this day, she has never publicly admitted, let alone apologized, for the oppression, torture, dehumanization and dispossession visited upon people in the colony of Kenya before and after she acceded to the throne.” U.K. officials hope countries that become republics will remain in the Commonwealth, the 54-nation organization made up largely of former British colonies, which has the queen as its ceremonial head. The queen’s strong personal commitment to the Commonwealth has played a big role in uniting a diverse group whose members range from vast India to tiny Tuvalu. But the organization, which aims to champion democracy, good governance and human rights, faces an uncertain future. As Commonwealth heads of government prepare to meet in Kigali, Rwanda, this month for a summit delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, some question whether the organization can continue once the queen’s eldest son, Prince Charles, succeeds her. “Many of the more uncomfortable histories of the British Empire and the British Commonwealth are sort of waiting in the wings for as soon as Elizabeth II is gone,” royal historian Ed Owens said. “So it’s a difficult legacy that she is handing over to the next generation.” The crisis in the Commonwealth reflects Britain’s declining global clout. Zimbabwe was suspended from the Commonwealth under its authoritarian late President Robert Mugabe, and is currently seeking readmission. But many in its capital of Harare have expressed indifference to the queen’s jubilee, as Britain’s once-strong influence wanes and countries such as China and Russia enjoy closer relations with the former British colony. “She is becoming irrelevant here,” social activist Peter Nyapedwa said. “We know about (Chinese President) Xi (Jinping) or (Russian President Vladimir) Putin, not the queen.” Sue Onslow, director of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London, said the queen has been the “invisible glue” holding the Commonwealth together. But she says the organization has proven remarkably resilient and and shouldn't be written off. The Commonwealth played a major role in galvanizing opposition to apartheid in the 1980s, and could do the same over climate change, which poses an existential threat to its low-lying island members. “The Commonwealth has shown a remarkable ability to reinvent itself and contrive solutions at times of crisis, almost as if it's jumping into a telephone box and coming out under different guise," she said. “Whether it will do it now is an open question.” Cara Anna in Nairobi, Kenya, Alex Turnbull in Paris, and Andrew Meldrum in Johannesburg, contributed to this report.