Queen: Historians slam royal biographer who called funeral a 'façade'

‘The Queen has NOTHING to apologise for’: Historians slam royal biographer’s ‘old hat’ comments about state funeral being a ‘façade without atonement’ – adding the monarchy gave the world ‘foundations for modern nationhood’

  • Historians rejected Clive Irving’s claim the Queens’ funeral was a ‘façade’
  • Mr Irving said Monday’s state funeral was a ‘narcotic’ for the British people 
  • Experts argued Britain had built the world’s ‘foundations for modern nationhood’
  • They added Britain led the world in many endeavors, including ending slavery
  • The Queen’s funeral: All the latest Royal Family news and coverage

Historians have hit back at the Royal expert who branded the Queen’s funeral a ‘façade’ and claimed the Royal Family should ‘atone’ for slavery.

The historical experts said the comments were ‘inappropriate’ during the Queen’s funeral and argued Britain had lead the world in many areas, including abolishing slavery. 

Royal biographer Clive Irving took aim at the monarchy at the moment the Queen’s coffin was being taken to Windsor Castle on Monday in her emotional funeral procession as grief-stricken Britons came together to pay their respects.

The reporter, who questioned the longevity of the royal family in his 2021 book, The Last Queen, said the Crown was ‘responsible’ for the worst excesses of the British Empire.

He also blasted the new heir to the throne, Prince William, for his ‘misjudged’ tour of the Caribbean earlier this year, which was met with protests and demands for slavery reparations and a renewed debate about the legacy of the empire.  

Mr Irving also raised the case of the Royal Africa Company founded by Charles II in 1666 which he said ‘concealed a very evil enterprise which was shipping slaves from Africa to the Caribbean colonies.’ 

Historians have criticised Mr Irving’s comments as inaccurate and ‘misplaced’ during the Queen’s funeral.

Dr Zareer Masani, a historian and author, responded to Mr Irving’s comments by saying: ‘His comments are pretty old hat because these kinds of comments have been made about the monarchy for the last decade by Black Lives Matter and those sorts of groups. I don’t see anything new.’

He also rejected Mr Irving’s comments on Prince William and Princess Kate’s trip to the Caribbean earlier this year, saying that they received a warm reception on their visit.

Clive Irving has slammed the Queen’s funeral as a ‘facade’ and called on the royal family to ‘atone’ for a history of slavery and colonisation

The biographer was speaking as the Queen’s coffin was being taken to Windsor Castle yesterday in her emotional funeral procession

Historians Dr Zareer Masani and Robert Tombs give their reaction to royal biographer Clive Irving’s comments about the Queen’s funeral being a ‘façade without atonement’

He said: ‘There was one demonstration of a few hundred people which was given more prominence than it deserved but most people were very happy to turn out and welcome him. He quite rightly expressed regret about slavery but did not apologise.’ 

Dr Masani added: ‘I think the Empire was overall very positive for most parts of the world, there were mistakes and violence in pockets but on the whole it was a benevolent instituiton which gave most of the world foundations for modern nationhood and economy, and I don’t think it has anything to apologise for.’

He also said that since the Queen passed away: ‘I haven’t seen many criticisms because I’ve been watching the state funeral which has been done with great precision and meticulous detail which I think the British do better than anyone else in the world.’

Cambridge Professor of history Robert Tombs also argued Mr Irving’s comments were a narrow view of history.

He said: ‘Leaving aside the question of appropriateness of such comments at the time of the funeral, they are based on a twisted reading of history. 

‘Slavery has been a practically universal institution throughout history, and almost every state in the world shares responsibility. 

‘If the British Crown was involved in the slave trade, like so many others, it was uniquely involved in stopping the slave trade and liberating slaves. 

‘So by Mr Irving’s logic “the institution, the Crown itself” must be given credit for suppressing the slave trade and leading the combat against slavery world wide.

One royal historian also pointed out that Britain had taken a leading role in abolishing in the slave trade.

The historian said: ‘It has never been for the crown or the Royal Family to personal intervene or to make amends about unfortunate episodes in British history. 

‘The British crown stand above politics and outside politics, both domestic and international. 

‘These comments of Irving were misplace because this is a matter of government policy.’

They added: ‘When we turn to the history of slavery and the Royal Africa Company, the Royal Africa Company did not enslave Africans, it bought those already enslaved by their fellow Africans.

‘Yes it dealt in slaves, but the British in most cases did not send troops ashore to enslave Africans, they were enslaved by fellow Africans and sold to European traders.

‘Slavery existed in Africa from the earliest times – ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman societies were based on slavery. 

The former managing editor of the Sunday Times questioned whether King Charles can sustain the monarchy

‘Kings and tribal chieftains such as the King of Dahomey made their money out of enslaving fellow Africans, often from other tribes.

‘It was not the Africans that abolished slavery it was the Europeans. Britain and Denmark were the first two countries to abolish slavery.

‘The African chieftains were absolutely furious the Europeans would not by their slaves anymore.

‘When Britain abolished slavery it did not just abolish it, it set up the West Africa Squadron which went to the Gold Coast to stop slavery. Thousands of British soldiers died of malaria trying to stop slavery.

‘It did not just abolish slavery, it fought other countires like Portugal and France over it.

‘African chieftains continued to enslave their fellow Africans to sell to European traders until colonisation.

‘Colonialism brought education, health all sorts of things, but the main thing it did was stop slavery.

‘And the colonies were set up in the name of Victoria, and it was those colonies which stopped slavery.

‘So that’s the context Clive Irving has got wrong.’

Mr Irving made his comments speaking to MSNBC on the day of the Queen’s funeral, arguing that the crown bore responsibility for crimes committed during the British Empire.

He said : ‘A lot of this seems to be façade, it’s almost like a Potemkin village exercise.

‘There’s all this regal display of something that, as one of your guests said earlier, nobody does it better than the British, but you always have to ask what lies behind the façade.

‘In terms of the future of the monarchy, you can’t separate the future of the monarchy from the future of the country, and therefore the condition of the country has to be taken into account when you think how Charles can handle this.’

Irving, who was also a key contributor to a documentary on Princess Margaret, said the monarchy needs to reckon with the history of the British Empire if it wants to succeed in the future.

Prince William and Kate (pictured in Kingston) took a controversial tour to the Caribbean earlier this year

The tour was branded ‘tone deaf’ and smacking of ‘colonialism’  as the royals met with locals

He said: ‘This legacy requires something that I haven’t seen coming from the Windsor family at any stage in recent history which requires atonement. 

‘It requires acknowledgment of the true cost to those colonies of slavery which began under Charles II in 1666 because he founded this thing with a very innocent title called the Royal Africa Company which actually concealed a very evil enterprise which was shipping slaves from Africa to the Caribbean colonies.

‘About a quarter of those slaves died before they got there, chained below the decks, and that was subsequently succeeded by colonial societies leading right through to the 20th century in which the crown played the part of head of state.’

‘So although you can’t lay the cost of slavery, the human cost of it, terrible other costs of it, at the doors of the present monarchy or even the Queen, the institution, the crown itself is responsible, there’s a continuity going right through to now.’

He then took aim at Prince William for his week-long tour of the Caribbean in March, which was overshadowed by demands for slavery reparations and the enduring anger over the Windrush scandal.

William and his wife Kate were met with protests across Belize, Jamaica, and the Bahamas.

Irving said: ‘This situation was completely misjudged by Prince William when he went to the Caribbean earlier this year.

‘I said he hadn’t been properly briefed but I thought about that afterwards and I thought, how can a guy who had the education that William had, he had one of the best educations you can get, how can he not know about this.’

Upon his return to the UK William said he not only discovered more about the ‘different issues that matter most to the people of the region but also how the past weighs heavily on the present’. 

The father of three’s eight-day trip to the Caribbean with his wife Kate, 40, in March, was branded ‘tone deaf’ by critics who said there were moments smacking of ‘colonialism.’

Antigua and Barbuda became the first to float plans to move toward becoming a republic after the Queen’s death, with Prime Minister Gaston Browne telling media he hopes to hold a referendum on the issue within three years.

His counterpart in the Bahamas has signaled similar hopes, though without giving any timeline.

‘For me, it is always on the table,’ Prime Minister Phillip Davis said in comments reported by the Nassau Guardian newspaper the day after the Queen died. ‘I will have to have a referendum and the Bahamian people will have to say to me, ‘yes’.’

Jamaica, too, is considering ‘moving on,’ as Prime Minister Andrew Holness pointedly told the king’s son Prince William during a disastrous tour of the Caribbean earlier this year.

They are following a path blazed by Barbados, once known as ‘Little England’ but whose ruling Labour Party last year used its majority to approve a constitutional amendment removing the Queen as head of state.

Irving is far from the only commentator to pour scorn over the mourning for the Queen which has seen Britain shrouded in grief for the past two weeks.

Trevor Noah took a brutal swipe at ‘spoilt’ King Charles III just days after the monarch acceded to the throne following the death of his mother.

The profane South African comedian made a tasteless remark about Charles in a ruthless diatribe to the guffawing audience on The Daily Show.

He aired widely shared footage of the King caught on camera becoming frustrated with a leaking pen as he said: ‘Oh God, I hate this. I can’t bear this bloody thing.’

Earlier the royal gestured furiously to one of his aides to remove a pot of ink.

Noah, 38, told his audience in the US how the clips during Charles’ period of mourning show how he is not the right person for the monarchy.

He said: ‘It’s going to take a lot of work to shape the monarchy into something that everyone can get behind.

‘But based on his first week in power, looks like King Charles isn’t the guy to do it.’

The remarks are not the only ones from US media to spark fury in Britain, with the New York Times accused of a ‘sneering attack’ on the royals.

Trevor Noah has taken a brutal swipe at ‘spoilt’ King Charles III just days after the monarch acceded to the throne following the death of his mother

The paper said the Queen helped to ‘obscure a bloody history of decolonization’, then inflated figures as they questioned why her funeral should be paid out of taxes, despite the vast majority of Britons being in favor of a fitting send-off.

Noah continued in his cynical diatribe: ‘I love how Charles says the pens leak on him all the time.

‘You’re literally the King of England, dude! If you don’t like the pens, get different pens. I’m not an expert in the monarchy, but I’m pretty sure the hierarchy doesn’t go: Prince William, King Charles and then the guy who buys the pens.’

He added: ‘Still, I feel kinda bad for him. I do. Because in the old days, the King would’ve never had these issues. There would be no leaking pens. 

‘Maybe King Charles is just stressed out right now, maybe that’s why this is happening. Because becoming king is a lot of pressure, I mean there’s like 15 different forks to memorize, you have to sleep with that crown on, that’s not comfortable.  

Noah, 38, told his audience in the US how the clips during Charles’ period of mourning show how he is not the right person for the monarchy

King Charles, sitting inside the royal residence of Hillsborough Castle, Northern Ireland, appeared frustrated by the dripping ink as he tried signing a book

Noah then showed footage of Princess Diana’s controversial butler Paul Burrell slamming the then Prince of Wales

Why South African Trevor Noah feels he can mock the royal family

Trevor Noah was born in Johannesburg in 1984, in apartheid South Africa.

At the time of his birth, his parents’ interracial relationship was illegal.

Apartheid came into effect in 1948, when South Africa was still under the British Empire.

Britain’s role in Africa and its controversial colonial legacy have made the Queen a divisive figure to many in the continent, representing the empire.

Last week, South Africa’s opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters or EFF movement recalled in its tribute to the Queen the decades of apartheid, in which Britain, the former colonizer, was often passive.

‘We do not mourn the death of Elizabeth, because to us her death is a reminder of a very tragic period in this country and Africa’s history,’ EFF said in a statement.

‘During her 70-year reign as Queen, she never once acknowledged the atrocities that her family inflicted on native people that Britain invaded across the world.

‘If there is really life and justice after death, may Elizabeth and her ancestors get what they deserve.’ 

In another section on Noah’s Daily Show, he presented a segment discussing with people in Africa are not mourning the Queen’s death.

He said: ‘In many parts of the world, especially Africa, people have a very different relationship with the Queen.

‘When you consider what the British Empire did, these reactions are pretty reasonable. You can’t expect the oppressed to mourn the oppressor.’

He then said the royal family should return the Cullinan Diamond, which is the largest clear cut diamond in the world, to South Africa.

Noah has frequently spoken out about issues of race and diversity, and was a fervent supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement.

He joins a litany of other Americans who have criticized the monarchy in the past week because of Britain’s imperial past. 

‘But if you paid attention to King Charles back during his prince days, you would know that this is pretty much how he’s always been.’

Noah then showed footage of Princess Diana’s controversial butler Paul Burrell slamming the then-Prince of Wales.

Burrell claimed he was the ‘only man Diana ever trusted’ but others have denounced him as a royal ‘hanger-on’ who sold stories to the press, and who Charles accused of ‘exercising pathetic vendettas in public.’

The ex-butler turned reality star went on to release a memoir about his experiences with the royals which Prince William said would have ‘mortified’ his mother, accusing him of ‘cold and overt betrayal.’

In the clip aired on the Daily Show, Burrell says: ‘The Prince of Wales has grown up in such a privileged lifestyle that he doesn’t have the mechanics to choose for himself anymore.

‘His pajamas are pressed every morning, his shoelaces are pressed flat with an iron, and the water temperature has to be just tepid and only half-full. Prince Charles does have his valet squeeze one inch of toothpaste onto his toothbrush every morning. 

‘On one occasion, he rang me from his library and he said: “Oh Paul, a letter from the Queen seems to have fallen into my wastepaper bin, would you pick it out?” The wastepaper bin was there, he was sat there, I had to bend down into the paper bin, pick out the letter, put it back on his desk, “Would that be all Your Highness?”‘

Noah feigned outrage at the claims to his shocked viewers.

He said: ‘When I was a kid, I thought kings had to pull swords out of stones. This dude can barely pull his d*** out of his own pants?’

‘You know what this tells you, this story about Charles is one, the royals have been royally spoilt, and two, I can tell you that nobody who works in that palace is African.’

The comedian then impersonated an African woman telling Charles: ‘There is only one king and that is Jesus.’

US media has been slammed in the UK for its coverage of the Queen’s death.

In a story last week, the New York Times reported that the British taxpayers would front the bill for the funeral, which reportedly cost more than $6million. 

The story labeled it a ‘hefty price tag’ amid rampant inflation in Britain, but readers were unamused by the article as they slammed the tone of the reporting regarding the late monarch of 70 years.

Soon after publishing the story, Ben Judah, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council tweeted the actual cost per household would be just five pence each. 

The New York Times was forced to issue an embarrassing correction on Thursday after it fudged inflation data and stoked recession fears

Burrell claimed he was the ‘only man Diana ever trusted’ but others have denounced him as a royal ‘hanger-on’

Using the New York Times’ estimate of the Queen’s funeral cost, the UK’s 28 million households would have to pay just 20 pence each.

By Thursday, the Times admitted it was wrong and published a correction to the story, noting the UK’s inflation is not actually as bad as it originally reported.

Rather than the more than 10 percent inflation, the Times pushed, the correction said: ‘The country’s inflation rate is at nearly 10 percent; it does not exceed 10 percent.’

It also said ‘while the Bank of England said last month that it expected a long recession to begin this year, that was before a new plan proposed by Prime Minister Liz Truss to cap soaring energy costs.’

Twitter user Dorren Wilson said: ‘Your newspaper has been unfailingly full of snark, on a story that doesn’t belong to you. Disappointing. 

‘I subscribed for five years, but you’ve confirmed the wisdom of letting it go.’ 

The New York Times received more backlash over its reporting of the Queen’s funeral as it noted that it would be paid for by British taxpayers 

Readers took to social media to condemn the tone of the reporting just days after Queen Elizabeth’s death, marking an end to her 70 year reign 

Wilson was not alone in her criticism of the Times, fellow Twitter user Robert Corbishley said the cost to taxpayers would still be less than the $7 paper. 

‘Less per person than the price of one copy of your ‘newspaper,” he wrote. 

Tom Harwood, a British political commentator, noted that the British government was already committing billions of pounds to tackle inflation. 

‘The Queen’s funeral [cost will] be a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of that,’ Harwood wrote. ‘You absolute ghouls.’

The backlash came a week after the paper garnered criticism over an article by Maya Jasanoff, a history professor at Harvard University, where she focuses on the history of Britain and the British Empire and said it was wrong to ‘romanticize’ the crown.

‘The Queen helped obscure a bloody history of decolonization whose proportions and legacies have yet to be adequately acknowledged,’ she wrote as other reporters around the nation joined the suit to criticize the late Queen’s reign.  

Many called The Times disrespectful and said British taxpayers were more than happy to help pay for the Queen’s funeral costs

Maya Jasanoff, a Harvard professor specializing in the history of the British Empire, wrote for the Times last week that it was wrong to ‘romanticize’ the Queen’s rule 

New York Magazine’s The Cut has been seen as the biggest offender over its coverage of the Queen’s death and the British Royal Family. 

The liberal magazine that published an in-depth interview with the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, in August, has recently targeted King Charles in a new piece that was published online on Wednesday.  

The latest story is titled: ‘King Charles’s Reign of Fussiness Has Begun,’ which comes days before the Queen’s funeral, which is scheduled for Monday. 

The article points to reports that Charles went through two ‘tantrums’ in the days after his mother’s death. One was the report that he stormed out of a signing ceremony in Northern Ireland when a pen leaked on him, another was when he ‘trussed up in tails and hissing at palace aides who failed to move a pen tray off his table with due haste.’ 

The king apparently gestured to aides to help him to make some room on a cluttered desk. 

The Cut goes on to mention a report from the Guardian in which it was alleged that Charles chose to tell close to 100 employees that he was letting them go as he prepares to move into Buckingham Palace during a memorial service for his mother. 

A source told the newspaper: ‘Everybody is absolutely livid, including private secretaries and the senior team.’

New York Magazine’s The Cut, which published an in-depth interview with Meghan Merkle, has been seen as the biggest offender over its coverage of the Queen’s death 

The article concludes with one of Meghan Markle’s many unproven allegations against Charles, that he was racist about her son, Archie, and accuses him of ‘mundane cruelty’ to his wife, Princess Diana. 

Infamously, shortly after the Queen’s death, The Cut published an article titled: ‘I Won’t Cry Over the Death of a Violent Oppressor.’ 

The piece was an interview with Carnegie Mellon linguistics professor Uju Anya who tweeted on Thursday: ‘I heard the chief monarch of a thieving raping genocidal empire is finally dying. May her pain be excruciating.’

Anya told the Cut that the Queen was a ‘representative of the cult of white womanhood.’ 

Uju Anya, a black applied-linguistics professor at the Pittsburgh university, said on Friday: ‘Queen Elizabeth was representative of the cult of white womanhood’

Shortly before the Queen’s passing was announced on Thursday, Anya tweeted that she hoped her death would be ‘excruciating’

Anya, an applied-linguistics professor at the Pittsburgh university, is the daughter of a mother from Trinidad and a father from Nigeria. 

She told NBC News that she is ‘a child of colonization,’ and that her perspective was shaped by Britain’s role in the Nigerian Civil War.

‘My earliest memories were from living in a war-torn area, and rebuilding still hasn’t finished even today,’ she said.

She defended her remarks opposing the monarchy and added that the Queen was not exempt from the decisions made by the British government ‘she supervised.’

‘Queen Elizabeth was representative of the cult of white womanhood,’ Anya said.

‘There’s this notion that she was this little-old-lady grandma type with her little hats and her purses and little dogs and everything as if she inhabited this place or this space in the imaginary, this public image, as someone who didn’t have a hand in the bloodshed of her Crown.’

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