For years, supporters of the monarchy have claimed that the Queen represents a significant constitutional check on our politicians and is politically neutral. The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's request to the Queen to prorogue (essentially suspend) parliament for a period, whatever your thoughts are on Brexit, highlighted this contradictory claim. If there's anyone who should not be surprised at the anger being directed at the Queen for her decision to follow hundreds of years of constitutional conventions, it should be those supporters.
Last night, TVNZ 1 aired a program called “That’s a bit racist” looking at race relations in New Zealand. The program made mention of a little-known incident before the Queen’s 1952 Royal tour: the burning down of houses at Ōkahu Bay in Auckland’s eastern suburbs. Auckland City Council described the village at Ōkahu Bay as:
“…a dreadful eyesore and potential disease centre.”
…and used that as a pretext to acquire the land and then forcibly evict its inhabitants. They then burned down all the houses and the Marae at Ōkahu Bay. Only the chapel and cemetery remained, and stand still to this day. The area was turned into a park, just in time for the Queen’s 1952-1953 Royal tour, which of course emphasised how great New Zealand’s race relations were.
I’m sure there’s many more examples of people being displaced and ignored during Royal tours. This one really struck a nerve though given the close proximity of Ōkahu Bay to Auckland City. It really emphasises the way the monarchy is used to paper over division and create a false sense of unification. The monarchy can’t unite us.