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Artists, academics respond to sad death of longest-reigning monarch Queen Elizabeth II – dissenting voices criticism

Artists, academics respond to sad death of longest-reigning monarch Queen Elizabeth II – dissenting voices criticism

Reaction to passing…

SEVERAL members of the Asian artistic community have been recounting their experiences, talking with the Queen and/or paying tribute to her long reign.

One of the first to post to social media was Sanjeev Bhasker OBE, the star of ITV’s crime drama, ‘Unforgotten’ and one of the four members of the iconic ‘Goodness Gracious Me’ BBC quartet, told his Twitter followers, that he had meet the Queen on numerous occasions.

“She was always warm, gracious and humorous, whether briefly at an event or chatting about The Kumars.

“A life of extraordinary public service,” he said not long after her death was announced on Thursday (September 8).

Sanjeev Bhasker & Meera Syal and The Queen (Twitter)

Previously Bhasker had shared that The Queen herself was something of a fan of his chat show cum sitcom – ‘The Kumars at No.42’ – it first aired in December 2001 – and The Queen had met Bhasker and was able to recount some incidents from the sitcom, telling Bhasker it was among her favourite TV programmes. It made the recent the news again this April when the BBC ran an article on ‘A great sense of humour: But what makes the Queen laugh?’ (See link below). The show saw Bhasker play a middle aged Asian man living with his parents and inviting celebrity guests to share anecdotes in his living room – it was recorded with an audience. It won two International Emmys and enjoyed a brief revival in 2014 with Sky.

Bhasker’s wife Meera Syal CBE, who also features in ‘The Kumars at No42‘ (as his grandmother) also paid brief tribute and posted more recently about losing her own father.

“Grief feels the same whether you wear a cap or a crown. Lost our Pops four days ago today. Grief is also the price you pay for love. And how we loved him,” she said yesterday (September 12), with a lovely picture of the two of them together (see below).

On the day of The Queen’s passing, she had posted a picture of Paddington Bear and that now ubiquitous marmalade sandwich with the comment – “End of an Era. Thank you Ma’am.”

The marmalade sandwich has become a feature as The Queen appeared with the Paddington Bear character discussing the merits of having one always handy – in a video shoot for The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in June.

The Queen and Gurinder Chadha (Twitter)

Filmmaker Gurinder Chadha OBE reacted to the Queen’s passing on Thursday (Septemer 8), posting a picture of her meeting the monarch, tweeting: “RIP #HMTheQueen born the same year as my mum, she lived three years longer.”

She also posted the video featuring Richard Griffin, a former royal protection officer, recounting the time when two American tourists walking around Balmoral asked about The Queen without realising they were actually talking to her. This video has been seen over 20 million times.

Adil Ray OBE, ITV’s ‘Good Morning Britain’ host and the man behind the BBC sitcom, ‘Citizen Khan’ said: “Today marks the passing of a mother, wife sister and grandmother. Her majesty The Queen’s family have lost their constant. And so has the United Kingdom, possibly not yet realised.” He posted this hours after The Queen’s passing on Thursday, adding: “Ma’am you shall be missed.”

More recently, he published a statement on his Twitter feed from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims, whose final line reads: “She was a truly unifying Monarch. God Save the King”. He posted this tp his Twitter feed on Friday (September 9).

Elsewhere, writer Sathnam Sanghera, author of the hugely successful, ‘Empireland: How Imperialism has shaped modern Britain’ and the recent Channel 4 programme from it, ‘Empire State of Mind‘, which examines colonial history and how much it has shaped modern day thinking in Britain, was clearly affected.

Posting on the day of The Queen’s passing, he tweeted: “People across Britain might struggle to understand what follows here. Can’t speak for everyone but for me it’s about the fact, that, at a time of discord, in an age when politicians thrive by dividing us, we’ve lost someone who was constant. Someone who actually tried to unite.” He attached the link to The Times article reporting the news.

Anita Anand, broadcaster and writer, simply tweeted the news of the monarch’s death on her Twitter feed but has just made a podcast with fellow writer William Dalrymple – they wrote the book, ‘Kohinoor’ together about the diamond, which is part of the Queen’s Crown. It is a spoil of the Raj and broadcaster and historian David Olusoga, who has written extensively about the Empire and made TV programmes about such subjects as the birth of Slavery in the British Empire, joins them in this latest episode of their ‘Empire‘ podcast. It is part of a regular series that Anand does with Dalrymple and the first series is about India.

In episode six out today (September 13 – see Tweet link below) and made with Olusoga – the trio discuss The Queen, the Commonwealth, the future of the monarchy and the long shadow of Empire.

Dalrymple calls himself a “reluctant monarchist” and tweeted: “What I wrote 12 weeks ago on her platinum jubilee,” he said attaching the link to the article he penned for the Financial Times on that occasion, “I am not much of a royalist but Elizabeth’s death is deeply saddening. End of an era. Britain was a better place because of her.”

However, as you might expect some have pointed to the horrors of Empire and see The Queen as the symbol of a British Imperialism that crushed and vilified those who wanted to free themselves from British rule.

On the day itself of The Queen’s death, #blacktwitter trended and made mention too of #indiantwitter and #irishtwitter – people using these hashtags were critical of The Queen and what she stood for and the colonial adventures conducted in the name of the British monarchy – perhaps most famously in this regard is academic Professor Uju Anya, at Carnegie Mellon University in the US, who tweeted before news of the Queen’s death, ‘May her pain be excruciating”.

It sparked a huge and furious backlash but she stood by her original comment – even though her employers distanced themselves from her and the actual tweet in question was removed from Twitter. Carnegie Mellon said her assessment was not in keeping with the “university’s values”.
Professor Anya told BuzzFeed that she had no regrets – even though she faced horrendous abuse. The platform noted that she continued to post tweets drawing attention to the misery and cruelty visited upon people of colour by the British Empire.

Professor Sunny Singh of London Metropolitan University has been tweeting about the way students at Carnegie Mellon have hit back at the institution, defending Professor Anya and pointing out: “A university with unceded First Nation land and only nine Black tenured professors out of 477 cannot possibly share the same values as an African-Caribbean Black woman who is also an intersectional feminist, can it?”

Professor Singh pointed out that any person of colour making critical comments about the monarchy was quickly abused.

She retweeted prominent journalist from Novara Media, Ash Sarkar, who said: “Since the Queen died, racist abuse has been literally incessant (most of the ‘go back’ variety, but also explicit slurs). And it’s just not me.

Despite all the scolding of the left for not being mournful enough, few journalists seem at all troubled by this!”

Professor Singh also pointed out that Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, had been given the cold shoulder by some members of the crowd when she went to acknowledge them on a walkabout on Saturday (September 10) at Windsor Castle.

Several appeared indifferent to the Duchess of Sussex, when she went to greet them with a handshake – leading Professor Singh to note about the film illustrating this: “I keep thinking of this. I think every woman of colour in Britain knows this expression, the way it is deployed and the racist meangirling that it signifies. (There is a link to the original tweet pointing this out below).

“We see it in offices, pubs, nights out, classrooms, academic conferences, department meetings.”

Australian website also picked up on the same footage and details more personal disdain for the Duchess of Sussex on her walkabout (See link below).

Twitter Links

Sanjeev Bhasker

BBC article on Queen’s sense of humour (April 21)

Meera Syal

Gurinder Chadha

Adil Ray

Sathnam Sanghera

Anita Anand Empire Podcast with William Dalrymple and David Olusoga
Podcast link:

BuzzFeed story

Ash Sarkar tweet

Professor Singh comment on rude ‘cold shoulder’ of Duchess of Sussex

Original video and tweet Molly-Mae

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Written by Asian Culture Vulture