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In memory of Queen Elizabeth II

Dickens, Austen, Shakespeare, Downton Abbey, Queen Elizabeth II: all of them filled the walls of my Irish-Italian household. What was it that made Queen Elizabeth so important to us? What made her the one who led me to be named Rose Elizabeth Androwich and my younger sister to almost be named Elizabeth instead of Emily?

Queen Elizabeth was the person who inspired her country of England and stood as a figure of stability for 70 years.  Her father was King George V’s second son and became King when his brother abdicated the title to marry an American divorcee. It was then that Queen Elizabeth II became the next in line for the throne. On the Buckingham Palace balcony, she greeted them with her royal wave. During World War II, she was the one who delivered a public address.

Queen Elizabeth II showed a commitment to her country throughout her life even as her family life changed drastically overnight. Her life changed forever when her father passed away in his sleep at the age of 56. Queen Elizabeth II was with her husband Philip, who was formerly the Prince of Greece before he relinquished his title.

It was then that Princess Elizabeth became the woman we know today as Queen Elizabeth II, the longest reigning monarch. Her address to the nation showed how she wanted to be a person that the people of England trusted in. As a monarch of 70 years, her importance to England makes her loss even more difficult.

After her death, England entered a mourning period that would last ten days. Elizabeth II’s reign relates to American politics due to the considerable amount of presidents she met. From Truman to Biden, she met with 13 successive Presidents. When she met Truman, she was still Princess Elizabeth, as she was crowned Queen a few months later.

Queen Elizabeth, even after having met with several politicians, never shared her own political stances aside from two comments interpreted to be about Brexit. This stance is in accordance with the rule that royals must be apolitical. Queen Elizabeth encouraged civility and respect in the first speech. In the second speech, she reaffirmed the idea of respecting someone who is different from you.

Queen Elizabeth was more than just a figure of stability. She was involved in hundreds of British charities and helped raise 1.4 billion pounds. She was the patron of 510 charities including Cancer Research UK and the British Red Cross. The Queen promoted a culture of supporting charities with time and money.

The impact of Queen Elizabeth extends to her role in England, other countries and charities. There is also the cultural significance of her life. The television show “The Crown” follows the life of Queen Elizabeth II with some apparent dramatization.

Outside of the show, there is a discussion regarding Queen Elizabeth as a style icon. Most have reached the conclusion that she was a style icon through her use of bright colors. Additionally, she would wear one color every day from head to toe. She shows there is a connection between the royal family and style.

Take Johnnie Boden, an English designer who ships overseas to America and the owner of the place where I got a rugby dress with a British flag on the collar. The website mentions royal figures who have worn pieces from him. It is also overwhelmingly seen that clothes the royal family wears will almost instantly sell out. Queen Elizabeth reflects the everyday connections in the world.

The love for this woman is apparent in the public fascination with her life. Even the Welsh Corgis show how her life touched the world in a number of ways.

Contact Rose at randrowich01@saintmarys.edu

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Viewpoint

Long live the Queen

The Queen was a Bada**! I know that’s a controversial statement. Let’s face it, Lilibet wasn’t perfect but considering all the things this petite (standing at 5’3”) woman accomplished in her life, how can you disagree? She may have been small in stature but not in will and honor. 

Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor was the longest reigning monarch in English history. Her reign went from February 6, 1952, till her death last Thursday, Sept. 8. Elizabeth reigned for a total of 70 years and 127 days. Her reign consisted of many firsts and trailblazing moments, both in general and for women. To name a few, Queen Elizabeth II was the first British monarch to address the U.S. Congress, the first British monarch to go to mainland China, the first British monarch to break protocol to honor the lives of the victims of 9/11 and she even helped get an act passed in the U.K. to alter the line of succession.  

When Elizabeth ascended to the throne in 1952 after the death of her father King George VI, she was only 25 years old. Before she officially ascended however, Elizabeth was still setting precedents. When Elizabeth, still a princess, turned 18 in 1944, WWII had been going on for five years already. Elizabeth, feeling the need to support her country, enlisted in the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS), which was the women’s branch of the British Army. Elizabeth began her time in ATS as a second subaltern and was later promoted to Junior Commander, which was equivalent to a Captain. She started out training as a mechanic and later became qualified in a driving and vehicle maintenance course. A newspaper at the time dubbed her “Princess Auto Mechanic,” as noted by The National World War II Museum. Following her service, the Princess gave a speech on her twenty-first birthday in which she dedicated her life to the service of the Commonwealth, according to the official site of the British Royal Family. Her Majesty the Queen said, “I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.” Who among us, at the age of twenty one, could or even would dedicate their life to the service of their country, putting the country and its needs above their own? 

The Queen has always been up to date on the latest technology trends. She gave the first televised Christmas address in 1957, and even allowed her coronation ceremony to be televised for the world to watch. It was the first televised ceremony of its kind with 27 million people in the U.K., out of the 36 million population, watching the broadcast and 11 million who listened to it on the radio. Elizabeth was also the first monarch to tweet. On October 24, 2014, she tweeted, “It is a pleasure to open the Information Age exhibition today at the @ScienceMuseum and I hope people will enjoy visiting. Elizabeth R.” 

Queen Elizabeth II was never one to shy away from her people, so it should come as no surprise to you that she was the first member of the Royal Family to take part in a ‘Royal Walkabout.’ While on a royal tour of Australia and New Zealand with Prince Phillip in 1970, Queen Elizabeth II broke centuries of tradition when she walked right up to the crowds of people to meet them in person, rather than wave at them from a safe distance. She walked through the streets of Sydney, Australia greeting the many onlookers. Since her original stroll in 1970, ‘the Walkabout’ has become a regular habit for the British Royal family from Prince Charles and Princess Diana to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

This was not the only time the Queen has broken centuries of protocol, however. On September 13, 2001, just two days after the September 11 terrorist attacks, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II broke protocol once again and “ordered the daily ceremonial parade to break a 600-year tradition to show solidarity with America in its time of great loss.” The Queen ordered the Coldstream guards to play the Star-Spangled Banner. This was the first and only time in U.K. history that this command has been made.  

Throughout her reign, Queen Elizabeth II experienced many firsts and many Royal tours. In 1986, Queen Elizabeth II became the first British sovereign to enter mainland China. According to a New York Times article from October 13, 1986,“The [Queen’s] visit comes not two years after the two countries agreed on the future of the British Crown Colony of Hong Kong, and during a time of increasing British-Chinese trade”. Not since King George III sent an Embassy to China in 1792, has a monarch tried to contact the eastern power.

Years later, in May of 2011, Queen Elizabeth II would be the first British Monarch to visit the Republic of Ireland in 100 years. Queen Elizabeth’s visit, during which she expressed her “sincere thoughts and deep sympathy” for the victims of the troubled Anglo-Irish past, was celebrated as the beginning of a new era of friendship between the Irish Republic and Britain.

Another Royal visit in July of 1991 would help her secure yet another first. During a 13-day visit to the United States in 1991, Queen Elizabeth II became the first British monarch to address a joint session of Congress more than 200 years after the United States won its independence from the British Empire. The Queen also “touched on the “special relationship” between Britain and the U.S., noting that her country hoped to be a part of “a unified Europe that would work in harmony with the United States.”

In the fight for women’s rights Queen Elizabeth II was always a fearless advocate and in 2013 she had a chance to prove that once again. In 2013, “the Succession to the Crown Act amended the provisions in the Bill of Rights and the Act of Settlement to end the system of male primogeniture, under which a younger son can displace an elder daughter in the line of succession,” as noted by the official British Royal Family site. While it’s true that the Queen did not directly vote on this amendment, it is widely known that without Queen Elizabeth’s cooperation and support, the legislation might have failed.

Throughout her 70 plus years on the throne, Queen Elizabeth II remained reliable and steadfast, proving to be England’s literal ‘stiff upper lip.’ When Queen Elizabeth II rose to power, Britain was in a time of instability and uncertainty. Before her father became King George VI, his brother King Edward VIII first abdicated the throne leaving it to his shy, reluctant and unprepared younger brother who would become King George VI. Britain didn’t truly regain its stability until Elizabeth sat on the throne. Some have said that even with all her accomplishments, Queen Elizabeth II’s greatest accomplishment is the period of strength and balance that Britain enjoyed during her reign.  

To end with one last first, Queen Elizabeth II is the first and only British monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee. A Platinum Jubilee celebrates the 70th year a monarch spends on the throne. On June 2, 2022, the Queen celebrated her Platinum Jubilee. Queen Elizabeth II was Queen of the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth realms from 1952 until her death last Thursday. 

From being dubbed “Princess Auto Mechanic” for her time in the war, to supporting the Crown Act of 2013 which opens doors for future female royals, Queen Elizabeth II has always pushed her own boundaries and those of others, fighting for the betterment of the world, making her a legend and a bada**. 

Long Live the Queen. 

You can contact Meghan at mlange03@saintmarys.edu.

The views expressed in this Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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Multimedia

From the Archives: 50 years of women at Notre Dame

Spencer Kelly, Lilyann

Gardner and Maggie

Eastland


Contact Spencer at skelly25@nd.edu. Contact Lilyann at lgardne@nd.edu. Contact Maggie at meastlan@nd.edu.

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Viewpoint

In defense of the Grand Empress Dowager

When one thinks of powerful and influential women in the second half of the 19th century, it would not be surprising for the list to come up rather short, as the circumstances most women around the world found themselves in prevented them from foraying into society beyond a limited set of roles. Over the past week, I asked some of my friends who they thought could potentially top out a list of the century’s most influential women. Beyond “I have no idea” and “Why are you asking me this?” the only name which consistently came about was that of Queen Victoria, who reigned over the United Kingdom and its vast global empire for over six decades. If she can manage to remain a household name well into the 21st century and have an era named after her, then she probably is without a doubt not only the most important woman from the 19th century but also one of the greatest figures to have lived back then, irrespective of gender. However, there is another, who in my opinion beats out Queen Victoria, consigned to obscurity in the West and maligned by most in the East. 

Cixi, Grand Empress Dowager of the Qing Dynasty, was born to a Manchu family in Beijing in 1835. When she was only 16 years old, she was selected to enter the Forbidden City as one of the Xianfeng Emperor’s many consorts. In an impressive stroke of luck, she was one of the chosen few among over 60 candidates sent in from all over the Empire! Although she had a low rank within the complex structure of the Emperor’s harem, she secured her position by giving birth to Zaichun, the Emperor’s first and only son. In addition, her ability to read and write Chinese proved advantageous to her, as she was able to assist the Emperor in exercising his duties, giving her a thorough education regarding the art of governing. When Western invaders during the Second Opium War invaded and razed through Beijing, burning down the cherished Old Summer Palace, the Imperial Court fled northwards to avoid the dangers brought about by the invaders. Upon the Emperor’s death a few months later, Cixi’s five-year-old son was enthroned as the Tongzhi Emperor, with Cixi and Empress Dowager Cian, the Emperor’s official wife, serving as co-regents. 

Although tradition dictated women were strictly forbidden from meddling in politics, Cixi skillfully used her wit and cleverness to assert herself as the power behind the throne. Since the new Emperor was only a child, whoever controlled the regency would wield true power in China until the Son of Heaven came of age. Sensing the danger of having highly reactionary elements serve as the new Emperor’s minister regents as encroaching Western powers sought to continue to interfere with China, Cixi engineered a coup against the board of regents whom the deceased Xianfeng Emperor had entrusted to run political affairs throughout his successor’s childhood. After clearing the board and securing her position as the official regent, Cixi effectively controlled China for over five decades until her passing in 1908. 

After the fall of the Qing dynasty, Nationalists and Communists alike derided Cixi’s memory, framing her as an inefficient and corrupt despot ultimately responsible for China’s decline throughout the nineteenth century. Traditional historians in China have always been prejudiced against powerful women within court affairs, and the fact her legacy has been mostly defined by those deeply opposed to Imperial rule in China and one-sided accounts fed by ignorant Western contemporaries prevents one from acquiring a clearer understanding of who Cixi truly was, and her contributions to launching modern China. 

Over the summer I had the opportunity to read two books on Cixi. The first, “Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China,” by Jung Chang, is a 2013 biography that dives deeply into the inner workings of the Qing court of the time and does a lot to explain Cixi’s contributions to modernizing the almost medieval China of the time. Suppressing foot binding, cleaning up the bureaucracy, improving tax collection, crushing the Taiping rebellion and launching the Tongzhi restoration are just some of her deeds. Without Cixi’s position as regent, many historians agree Imperial China would have succumbed to the ash heap of history a lot earlier than 1912. Chang wrote this biography after going through court records, correspondence and diaries, which revealed a much more intimate picture of Cixi’s role in Chinese history. The second book, “With the Empress Dowager,” by Katharine Carl — an American artist invited to paint Cixi’s portrait and live within the Imperial Court in the early 1900s — does a lot to demystify Cixi’s enigmatic persona and bring down the perception of a power-crazed despot which still lingers to this day. 

As history is written by the victors, the modern understanding of Cixi has been distorted by relying on those who always had a deep contempt for her and the regime she symbolized. However, in defense of the Grand Empress Dowager, she presents the perfect example as to why contentious figures ought to be thoroughly analyzed and reviewed to have a more complete understanding of their role in history. Certainly, she was no saint worthy of canonization, but she certainly also was not the vicious “she dragon,” which decades of history built upon palace gossip, revolutionary vitriol and Western xenophobia made her up to be. 

To bring things back to the question of who the most important woman of the 19th century was, I close with a quote by Cixi herself: “Although I have heard much about Queen Victoria . . . still I don’t think her life is half as interesting and eventful as mine. Now look at me, I have 400 million people all dependent on my judgment.” That ought to settle any contest.

I invite you all to learn more about Cixi, whose storied life kept me wonderfully entertained throughout 75 nights while living out in Arkansas for the summer.

Pablo Lacayo is a senior at Notre Dame, majoring in Finance while minoring in Chinese. He enjoys discussing current affairs, giving out bowl plates at the dining hall, walking around the lakes, and karaoke. You can reach him at placayo@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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News

‘Building an Anti-Racist Vocabulary’ lecture discusses history of the ‘white power’ movement

Kicking off year four of the “Building an Anti-Racist Vocabulary” lecture series on Sept. 2 was Dr. Kathleen Belew, an associate professor in the department of history at Northwestern University.

In her lecture, which took place via Zoom, Belew discussed the “white power movement,” which is the focus of much of her research as well as her book, “Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement.”

Belew began her lecture by introducing modern instances in which the white power movement was evident, specifically focusing on the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

She emphasized that the attack was carried out by several groups of people, one of which was a small but highly-organized group of white power activists who seem to be part of a more complex movement than previously thought.

“What we thought about for a very long time as simply the Ku Klux Klan, an anti-Black movement, or the neo-Nazis, an anti-Jewish movement, or skinheads, who seemed to be attacking all kinds of people of color in the 1980s, actually appear to be part of the same thing,” Belew said.

She went on to highlight the Oklahoma City bombing, which she explained is often thought of as the work of “only a few bad apples.”

“The Oklahoma City bombing was actually the work of a social movement. It was perpetrated by not just one or a few people, but by a broad network of people who had set their sights on the same building in 1983 — so more than a decade before the bombing — and had worked together to bring about this major act of domestic terrorism,” Belew said.

In considering these groups’ cause for unity, Belew cited the Vietnam War.

“The white power movement comes together immediately on the aftermath of the Vietnam War,” Belew said.

She added that 1983 and 1984 were two extremely relevant years for the white power movement. Firstly, the movement adopted a strategy she called “leaderless resistance.”

“Leaderless resistance is what we now understand as simply cell-style terrorism,” Belew said.

The leaderless resistance strategy, Belew said, was implemented during the Civil Rights Era to prevent federal informants, such as the ATF and FBI, from infiltrating the movements’ groups. This led to difficulty in linking various related events with one another.

“For instance, we might get a story about the Tree of Life shooting or about the Christchurch shooting as isolated events, instead of stories about those events as all being perpetrated by the same movement,” Belew explained.

Belew went on to state that the Buffalo shooting manifesto was nearly identical to that of the Christchurch shooting, indicating an interconnectedness between the two.

“The other major event that happened in the years 1983 and 1984 was the introduction of networked computers,” Belew said.

For example, The Order, a white supremacist group, stole millions of dollars to buy computers that could be networked together in order to allow various other groups to communicate without being seen by law enforcement and the FBI, Belew said.

“These groups were early adopters and were using social network activism to network and create the infrastructure for violent action all the way back in 1984,” Belew said.

With their new technology, Belew said the movement grew larger over the next few years. However, in 1987 and 1988, the U.S. Department of Justice attempted a seditious conspiracy trial, meaning it tried to prove that the various activists conspired in a group in an attempt to violently overthrow the government.

“However, for many reasons, this trial did not go as the Department of Justice had hoped,” Belew said. “The movement was acquitted. And what happened afterward is that it shifted directly into the militia movement.”

Belew continued by stressing the importance of using correct and accurate terminology and language when addressing the militia movement.

“It’s tricky, because ‘militia’ is embedded in our shared historical knowledge in a really different way, because we go back and think about men with the tricorn hats instead of about paramilitary guys holding the big guns and wearing the scary masks,” she said.

Belew said that militias were integral to the founding of the United States and are even mentioned in the Constitution. However, she explained they have since been reorganized into other military structures as part of the Dick Act.

“In fact, militias are now illegal in all 50 states,” Belew said.

However, militias still exist and have been seen at events such as the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally. These militias, Belew said, are not regulated by anyone except themselves.

“So, following the legal scholar Mary McCord, I have begun to think of them not as malicious but as an unregulated private army,” Belew said.

She concluded the lecture by reiterating that building an anti-racist vocabulary is an excellent way for people to help limit the power and capacity of white power violence.

She also moved away from the 20th century and gave a final take on the modern militia movement.

“We’re now living in an age where members of these unregulated private armies are running for office,” she said. “That means that we have to worry not only about mass-casualty violence, but we also have to worry about threats to the rule of free elections, to the idea that America should be ruled by and for the people and to the idea that democracy is going to be our system of governance.”

Jenna Abu-Lughod

Contact Jenna at jabulugh@nd.edu.