Northwest London, England, was the site of a great achievement for the average Joe this past weekend.
It was here, in one of the country’s most hallowed public spaces, where one of the country’s most historic and revered institutions was brought to its knees.
Yes, the mighty Manchester United, and their coach, “The Special One”, Jose Mourinho, lost the FA Cup final at Wembley to a club with no real heritage, proving that sometimes all you need is a bit of hard work and a few billion Russian roubles pumped in over a few years, to attain the status of football (almost) nobility.
At the same time, in the same city, another member of the working class was joining the nobility. Here, though, the money spent wasn’t sponsored by a Russian oligarch, but came from British taxpayers. It cost £32 million, or R539 555 822, to wed Meghan Markle and Britain’s Prince Harry, and what a wonderfully eye-opening ceremony it was.
The ceremony exposed the glaring disdain for the poor in a country, which, although far better off than South Africa, still sees 22% of its population living in absolute poverty. Absolute poverty is defined by the United Nations and the World Bank as the inability to afford the basic needs of life, such as food, clothing and shelter. And, these figures from Britain’s department for work and pensions don’t include the homeless or those living in shelters, of which the country also has a large number.
Yet, British taxpayers happily shelled out more than two Nkandlas worth to see the happy couple wed, while the world went gaga over the spectacle. South Africans also got in on the adoration, with #Royalwedding trending throughout the day on social media channels.
But this being South Africa, nothing is done in half measures, and our intelligentsia were quick to analyse every single aspect of the wedding. One tweet, from a local political analyst and journalist, stood out. Alongside a picture of Markle’s mother, he remarked that the wedding was the “BIGGEST political event in modern day history”.
On questioning this, some remarked that the wedding served to prove there really was no more holy ground and all spaces were now accessible to black people. This explanation, simplistic as it is, would suffice if we didn’t live in a world where the continued existence of monarchies serves as a painful reminder of the worst traits of humanity.
The British royals and their cousins across Europe were responsible for the colonisation of Africa and parts of Asia, where they committed some of the worst atrocities yet recorded. The scars of their crimes still linger, in the form of continued wars, coups and political unrest in many former colonies. The Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, the Middle East, and the list goes on …
Instead of a significant victory for black people and the working class, I think the royal wedding euphoria represents something else. It represents the yearning for the poor and formerly colonised not to rid themselves of the colonisers and uplift their people, but to take a seat at their former masters’ table, so they can share in the spoils.
Which may explain the aforementioned continued strife in countries where freedom was meant to bring prosperity.