The passing of Prince Philip has been a mainstay in the news for the last week and a half. Not only was he Queen Elizabeth's devout husband for 73 years, making him the longest-serving royal consort in history, but he is also the first high-profile royal to die since Princess Margaret in 2002. Tributes have been pouring in from all over the world, with people applauding the late prince for his unrelenting service to his country. And while my heart goes out to his family who just lost an important figure in their family, I can't help but feel a bit torn about said tributes and the way the world views the royal family in general.
As soon as news of the Duke of Edinburgh's passing came out, people immediately began singing his praises. Both Prince William and Prince Harry issued their own statements celebrating their grandfather and Princess Eugenie also had some kind words to say. The palace also released a heartwarming photo of the Queen and her hubby surrounded by all their great-grandchildren. They were homages fitting for a man who has been the backbone of the family for three generations.
At the same time, however, there were also questions about Prince Philip's less palatable moments permeating the zeitgeist. The Duke of Edinburgh was known as the sharp-tongued, less buttoned-up compatriot to Queen Elizabeth's poise and composure. It's easy to see why these two made such a dynamic couple considering the fact that they genuinely seemed like the yin to each other's yang. However, candid as the Duke was known to be, some of his comments were offensive and outright racist. In 1986, he called Beijing "ghastly" when asked what he thought of the city during a royal visit to China. (The other comment regarding European students' long stay in China was so offensive, I can't even include it here. The Independent, however, has a compilation of some of his greatest hits.)
People have chalked up some of his statements to the fact that the Duke came up during a certain time in history. However, for someone who comes from a former British colony like me, this particular pardoning of royal gaffes conjures a tinge of resentment. I have spent the better part of the last decade fortifying my roots in New York. However, I am originally from Zimbabwe, one of Great Britain's most lucrative former colonies. My homeland didn't get its independence until 1980 and just to give some context on how close the British colonial history is to me—to us—my mother was in her late teens at that time and my older sister would be born merely five years later, in 1985. Even today, there are schools and streets named after the current monarch's relatives and her majesty herself.