BBC Slammed for 'Rebranding Colonialism' After Queen Elizabeth II Death

The BBC and other news outlets have been accused of "rebranding colonialism" in the wake of the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

The long-reigning monarch died at the age of 96 on Thursday, September 8, 2022, and worldwide tributes have been pouring in since then. However, while people have discussed the Queen's legacy, her relationship with Africa has been highlighted but the way in which it has been reported isn't sitting well with many across social media.

The African arm of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is being dragged for a video tribute while E! News is also in hot water for its perceived appropriation of the term "Rest in power."

Queen Elizabeth II in Nigeria
Queen Elizabeth II's death has resurfaced arguments of British colonialism in Africa. Pictured is Queen Elizabeth II inspecting men of the newly-renamed Queen's Own Nigeria Regiment, Royal West African Frontier Force, at Kaduna Airport, Nigeria, during her Commonwealth Tour, 2nd February 1956. Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The tweet that sparked mass debate was sent by the Twitter user @sifanelepotwana who retweeted a video report sent by BBC News Africa. The video took a look at Queen Elizabeth II's longstanding relationship with Africa.

"Not yall rebranding colonialism as long-standing relationship," the Twitter user wrote. Over 445,000 people liked the tweet with tens of thousands of people commenting and retweeting their stance.

Across the 19th and early 20th century, there was a "Scramble for Africa" which saw many Western European countries battle to colonize large parts of Africa. Britain, France, Portugal, Germany and Belgium were some of the main culprits of this colonization. Britain's rule over African countries continued into the 20th century, with Kenya only becoming independent in 1963.

The comment section of @sifanelepotwana's tweet was filled with people sharing links to historical events and news articles related to Britain's actions in Africa.

"She became queen while on tour in Kenya. Africans were segregated, enslaved, tortured and killed on their own lands," Twitter user @My_Ji10 wrote. "This is what the BBC consider a long term relationship."

Not everyone sided with the original tweet. @pengawino1 sparked debate for speaking up against the stance. "There's no way people r using her death as a means to bag her and everything Britain did in the past 70 years. if it was such a problem why wasn't it brought up before this day?" they wrote.

Another post by a mainstream news outlet that triggered Twitter users was posted by E! News. Including a video tribute to Queen Elizabeth II's life, they wrote, "The end of a royal era. Rest in power, Queen Elizabeth II."

The phrase "rest in power" is largely used by members of the Black and LGBTQ communities in the United States (according to Dictionary.com) as an expression to mourn a deceased person. E!'s use of the term in relation to a white British monarch was called out.

"Incredibly inappropriate use of "Rest in Power," especially considering the person in question and her role in perpetuating white supremacist colonialism throughout much of the world." This tweet's author @javsy simply added, "Yikes."

The account @TSwiftNeedsYou was also incredulous at E!'s use of the phrase. "I'm begging y'all to do some research about the origin of what it means. But as a synopsis, using it for a woman who encompasses the epitome of colonialism is so disrespectful," they wrote.

"It's beyond inappropriate to use a phrase specifically coined and used by and for Black people whose deaths were the result of injustice in your condolence tweet for the figurehead of colonialism," wrote @violetmatter.

@lord_lila made her request to E! clear. "Delete this," they wrote, "'Rest In Power' is for oppressed peoples, not oppressors."

The topic of colonialism was widely discussed across social media in the hours after Queen Elizabeth II's death.

Boots Riley, director of the movie Sorry to Bother You, took a firm stance in criticizing the royal family. "The matriarch of a royal family legacy of slave-trading, imperialism, colonialism, theft, symbol of opulence and mascot for the ruling class is dead," he wrote and continued, "The media will now parade the queen's zombie ass in front of u while telling u that overthrowing capitalism is not what we need."

Karen Attiah, a writer for The Washington Post, justified people's right not to mourn the Queen's passing. "Black and brown people around the world who were subject to horrendous cruelties and economic deprivation under British colonialism are allowed to have feelings about Queen Elizabeth," she added, "After all, they were her 'subjects' too."