Cloud of colonialism hangs over Queen Elizabeth’s legacy in Africa
Queen Elizabeth II is the only sovereign in British history to be born out of a union between a British and a foreign royal. Photograph: David Levene/Reuters
As she heads for Africa, Queen Elizabeth II‘s legacy as the world’s longest-reigning monarch is in danger of being overshadowed by the story of her relations with the continent.
Her two trips to Africa, in 2006 and 2013, both drew widespread condemnation as foreign leaders rushed to meet the monarch at her official engagements.
These included the leaders of Tunisia and Nigeria, where the monarch’s two-day state visit to Tunisia in February has become the subject of controversy over security arrangements for the visit and the degree of scrutiny that was applied for and received by the Queen.
For his part, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who attended the Queen’s state dinner at the Buckingham Palace this month, met with President Obama in Washington last week: an obvious attempt to establish personal links between the Queen and the US, with Obama’s approval, as he seeks to make good on a promise made at the Africa summit in South Africa last November to build relations with African countries, including Nigeria.
At the meeting, Buhari said that he was “honoured” to meet the monarch, who is “a great person” and “a good friend” of the US. Buhari said he would be delighted to meet the Queen again at some point, and “therefore she needs to come to Nigeria”.
The Queen also met with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at the opening ceremony of the Africa exhibition at the Mall in London on Friday.
She is on her first ever state visit to Africa, meeting her hosts in the South African city of Cape Town on May 21 and 22, and in Nigeria on June 22 to June 24.