Australia and New Zealand mourn the loss of “their” Queen – but there are also critical voices. Especially among the indigenous populations.
There are around 17,000 kilometers between Australia’s capital Canberra and London, and almost 19,000 kilometers from the British metropolis to Wellington in New Zealand. Nevertheless, many people in the former colonies are still closely linked to the British royal family: Queen Elizabeth II was also the head of state of Australia and New Zealand.
In both countries, the grief was great on Friday. The flags were flown at half-mast. In Sydney, the Opera House will be illuminated in honor of the Queen for the next two nights. A 96-gun salute, one for each year the Queen died, is to pay tribute to the Queen at Parliament in Canberra. Australia will also suspend its parliamentary sessions for the coming week.
Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the death of Queen Elizabeth II marked the end of “a historic reign” and a long life “devoted to duty, family, faith and service”. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern also expressed her sadness. “The final days of the Queen’s life show who she was in many ways,” she wrote on Facebook. The Queen worked to the end on behalf of the people she loved and was “a constant in our lives for 70 years”.
The New Zealand Maori king Kiingi Tuuheitia Pootatau Te Wherohero VII also wrote in a public statement that he was saddened by the news. He also noted the close relationship the Queen and Prince Philip had with his mother, the late Queen Te Arikinui Te Atairangikaahu. Other representatives of indigenous peoples, on the other hand, were critical. As Sandy O’Sullivan, an Indigenous woman from Australia, wrote on Twitter: Anyone who said she was “a kind grandmother” would overlook that for decades she had overseen actions that had deteriorated the lives of Indigenous peoples.