Extractivism, colonialism and the monarchy

By Doug Specht

It is not often that we talk about the UK in this website, however the death of Queen Elizabeth II in September (2022) cannot pass by without a short entry on the role of the British monarchy in the extraction of resources and wealth from around the world.

The British Monarchy has played a central part in exploitation of nations and people throughout the world. The push for empire in the name of the crown fuelled Britain’s industrial revolution through constant war, slave trading and the extraction of fossil fuels and industrial metals from the soils of Britain and its colonies. This process unleashed the process of climate change and transformed the human relationship with nature.

The British Empire pushed the narrative that the world is merely a resource to be consumed and that harms committed in the process of consumption are just necessary evils that fuel progress. The British Monarchy commodified the world, creating an instrumental attitude to the earth and people that has led us directly to the climate crisis we find ourselves in now. And the continuation of the Monarchy and the Crown (the physical manifestation of which is decorated with stolen jewels) allows for the continued extraction and exploitation of people and planet.

The British Monarchy knows of the horrors of Empire, of the violence enacted on others in their name. And for all the new Monarch’s talk of climate action, the continuation of the monarchy perpetuates the notion that people and planet are a commodity to be consumed by some at the expense of others – a process that will lead to the destruction of us all.

This is an extract from a lecture delivered on 14th November at the University of Padova, Italy to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Human Rights Centre founded by Professor Antonio Papisca in 1982. See more: https://unipd-centrodirittiumani.it/en/attivita/The-Consequences-of-War-and-their-Interdependence-Bringing-Human-Security-Back-to-the-Global-Political-Agenda/1436