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Why I Think it’s Okay to Make Jokes About the Queen’s Death

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Geneseo chapter.

The recent death of Queen Elizabeth II has sparked an almost immediate outpouring of jokes and commentary that is less than favorable towards the late monarch. Although I am usually a proponent of not speaking ill of the dead…this particular political figure is an exception. Here’s why:

Punching up

First of all, we need to consider the positions of power at play here. When oppressed or minority groups make jokes that target their oppressors/the majority group, it’s called punching up. Punching up is a form of social critique and can be used as a way to resist the system or even simply make one’s voice heard. The British monarchy has been a force of oppression for hundreds of years in more ways than one. Queen Elizabeth II and the royal family as a whole have a background steeped in racism and colonialism: from a history of active support of the British slave trade during Queen Elizabeth I’s reign to recent microaggressions toward Meghan Markle. When people—especially those who have been historically marginalized—utilize jokes in this way, they can act as a very effective tool for social commentary that nobody has any right to try to shut down. 

The suffocating wealth of the royal family

The royal family is filthy rich. Americans are used to turning a critical eye towards CEOs such as Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk—why should Queen Elizabeth be any different? In fact, the entire monarchy as an establishment is a disgusting example of massive wealth that does little for the people they claim to “serve” (unless you count bad photo ops and isolating the only members of the family people ever actually like…*cough* Diana *cough* Meghan). Not to mention the fact that the Queen’s funeral will be coming out of Great Britain’s taxpayers’ wallets, during a time when inflation is getting so bad that people are “…worried about how they will pay for heating this winter, as average household bills increase by 80 percent next month…” (Gross, J). I don’t know much about overseas politics, but I know that the idea of paying for the funeral of someone whose family is worth an estimated $28 billion dollars would be infuriating.

We should feel comfortable critiquing powerful figures

People shouldn’t be afraid to make bold statements about the individuals who have the level of power Queen Elizabeth II has. The moment you start to police others about their critique of hugely popular politicians and celebrities, ask yourself: why do I feel the need to defend someone with immeasurable influence and wealth? The moment we become afraid to examine the actions of figures such as the Queen is the moment our freedom of speech really starts to crumble.

On that note…

Why are there forecasts of drought in England? Because the Queen’s rain has ended.

US’s queen (Betty White) has officially outlived the UK’s queen… It’s smelling like 1776 out here.

Did you hear about the Queen’s death? All British music is now Royalty-Free!

Jess Marinaro

Geneseo '24

Jess Marinaro is the senior editor and secretary at the Her Campus at SUNY Geneseo. They edit articles and correspond with general members of the club. Outside of Her Campus, Jess is studying English Creative Writing and Sustainability Studies. They have had creative writing published in literary magazines such as Gandy Dancer and Iris Magazine. They are a member of Sigma Tau Delta. She is also an RA at Geneseo’s campus and loves helping her residents. When not hunched over her computer, Jess can often be found hiking, running, or frolicking around the nearest New York State Park with Geneseo’s Outdoor’s Club. They love to write about queer topics, taylor swift, and movies–especially horror.