Wednesday, Oct 05, 2022

Watch: Why Australian Aboriginal Lawmaker Called Queen Elizabeth II 'Colonizer' In Viral Address

Australian politician Lidia Thorpe recently referred to Queen Elizabeth of England as 'the colonizing Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II' while being sworn into Australia's Parliament.

Australian senator Lidia Thorpe denouncing Britain's Queen Elizabeth II as 'colonizing Her Majesty'
Australian senator Lidia Thorpe denouncing Britain's Queen Elizabeth II as 'colonizing Her Majesty' Twitter

In an incident that has left ripples of amazement and admiration as well as shock in the global political community, an Indigenous lawmaker from Australia referred to the Queen of England as a “coloniser”.

Lidia Thorpe, referred to Queen Elizabeth of England as "the colonizing Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II" while being sworn into Australia's Parliament recently. The Queen is the formal head of state of Australia. Thorpe, who is the first aboriginal lawmaker to represent the Australian state of Victoria, was cut short in the midst of her address and asked to recite the oath as printed on the card provided to her for the ceremony.

In her second attempt, Thorpe scoffs while swearing her allegiance to “her majesty Queen Elizabeth II”, while she holds her fist up, as an ode to her indigenous roots and heritage.

Following Thorpe’s snub, one senator said, “you're not a senator if you don't do it properly." However, Thorpe retorted “You've got to have some respect."

While Buckingham Palace has refrained from commenting on the issue yet, Thorpe took to Twitter after her swearing-in and said, "Sovereignty never ceded."

Thorpe’s address is a reminder of the dark colonising past of the British empire that the queen formally represents as the head of the British constitutional monarchy. Thousands of indigenous aboriginal people were killed during the British colonisation of Australia in the 1700s. 

British colonization of Australia

The British first arrived with their ships in Australia in 1788 with the aim of establishing a penal colony on the relatively unexplored and virgin continent. The move was meant reduce the burden from British prisons in England that were brimming with criminals and convicts.

In the following century, the British set up a host of other colonies across the continent and opened it up for further exploration from European missionaries, explorers and conquerors.  Just under half a century later, the British empire declared Australia “Terra nulls”, meaning “nobody’s land”, justifying the British colonisation of the continent and robbing Australian civilisation of its history and heritage.

The continent was home to about 500 First Nation groups - as the groups of native and indigenous populations is together known today - which included 750,000 people. The native Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders’ cultures are said to be over 60,000 years old, making the living members of these communities some of the oldest custodians of human civilisation anywhere on Earth. Data suggests that there were 250,000 Aborigines in the continent. By the end of the colonial massacre of natives in the 1920s, only about 60,000 aborigines remained in Australia. 

The oppression of the native Australian tribes has resulted in long-standing socio-economic inequalities that the tribes continue to live with. 

Thorpe is a member of the Australian Greens party which has been a staunch critique of the British “legacy of colonisation” and the UK government which it claims has not yet fully acknowledged the sovereignty of the First Nations people.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Shame the level of anger directed at Lidia Thorpe today is nowhere to be seen by these same critics when it comes to 10 year old Indigenous children being jailed and Indigenous deaths in custody continuing at record rates. Where is your rage then? It’s stilled by your racism.</p>&mdash; Kon Karapanagiotidis (@Kon__K) <a href="">August 1, 2022</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

While Thorpe's comments have drawn ire from certain political quarters, social media has come out in support of Thorpe.  Her Parliament address has been going viral on social media with many hailing the indigenous lawmaker for standing up against the history of racism and oppression that the British monarchy continues to deny, despite pressure and demands for formal apologies from previous colonies including India.