It’s been only a few days since my arrival in St Vincent and the Grenadines. A few beautiful days were my eyes have been open to the beauty of nature and where already I have fully fallen for this charming island and its amazingly lovely inhabitants.
A few qualms have already risen however, one in particular which holds coincidental synergies with what is happening back home in London. I reached into my pocket the other day to inspect the local currency. Notes usually give some clues about relevant facts on the local history and whilst I’m here I intent to also learn about this beautiful place.
I was surprised however, to see the head of the queen smiling back at me and I joked- I’ve come all the way to the other side of the world, and still, I can’t escape this woman’s portrait. Now I’m no anti- royalist, I accept to some extent that the Royal family is part and parcel with British culture and being originally Maltese I don’t see that I’m in the right position to contest that…at least within the UK.
I then went on to discover that St Vincent is in fact a sovereign state and although it is in fact considered ‘Independent’, it is in actually Her Majesty’s Territory. According to Cahil: 'She is Queen of 32 countries, head of a Commonwealth of 54 countries in which a quarter of the world's population lives, and legal owner of about 6.6 billion acres of land, one-sixth of the earth's land surface'.
It was taking me some time to digest that the other day when I looked into it, considering what that meant in terms of disparity of land ownership here in the Caribbean while trying to stomach the guilt felt when comparing the warm welcome of Vincentians in comparison to Britain’s local brutal colonial past.
It’s amazing they are so nice to Westerners really. Provokes you to question reality a little and takes some time to digest the hard facts. As if that wasn’t enough the, truth of the ‘Paradise Papers’ came out simultaneously that day as I was reporting these finding to a friend in London. Not a surprise at all really - tax evasion on the behalf of the Duchy, when over half of the tax havens are within her realm seems like it would be stupid not to. Surprising, it didn’t get questioned before actually.
The feeling at the end of that day however left me feeling pretty sad regardless. Some of these alleged funds, the Guardian reported, went to companies exploiting and taking advantage of vulnerable people back in the UK with Bright House being found guilty just last month and ordered to pay millions in compensation for its dirty deeds.
Within that sole fact there, lies the answer really, if she can’t treat her subjects in her own countries with respect, if she demands those with even the most modern wages to pay the high rates in taxes she demands, yet isn’t willing to be honest with them and practice what she preaches.
It is really of no surprise she has even less regard to those who have fallen under her ownership through brutal colonial attacks in far away lands and that the evidence of exploitation runs far and wide. It is almost like seeing a mirror images of the struggle of those impoverished back in the UK, but now just in the tropics.
Acceptable it seems, and part of the norm, so much so that is goes unquestioned, but perhaps until now. If you really think about it, it’s inexcusable.
Some have suggested the Queen should apologize to the public for her action of double standards and deceit and I think that as a minimum she should. Might it also be the time to question her presence in other countries!? What contribution does she really bring!? Something worth thinking about, and keeping in mind.