The British monarchy has gone through a massive change in recent months, with the death of Queen Elizabeth II leading to a new head of state, her son King Charles III. But these changes have also led to renewed attention and scrutiny regarding the monarchy’s role and history.
During the latest episode of Last Week Tonight John Oliver unpacked all this, breaking down everything from the amount of money the monarchy costs UK taxpayers to the Royal Family’s past connections to slavery and the horrendous events that took place during Kenya’s Mau Mau Uprising.
“You can’t say you’re just a symbol and bear no responsibility for how the institutions that you are the head of behave,” said John Oliver, pushing back against the idea that the monarchy is simply symbolic before moving on to discuss the countries looking to leave the Commonwealth.
“While the Royal Family has said these countries are free to leave if they so choose, they also refuse to reckon with why they might want to do that in the first place. Instead they’ve continued working hard to be perceived as a mere symbol, while never taking responsibility for what that symbol excused. All while ignoring calls for true apology and reparations to those who suffered tremendously because of what was done in their name.”
Finally, Oliver highlighted that Sky, the network that shows Last Week Tonight in the UK, had previously edited out some jokes he made about Queen Elizabeth II in a previous episode.
“Will this segment even air on Sky TV in Britain?” he asked. “I honestly don’t know. Maybe, maybe not. But if they do cut it out for being disrespectful, they might want to seriously think about why. Why they, and everyone else, are working so hard not to offend a family whose name was branded into people’s skin, and who sit atop a pile of stolen wealth wearing crowns adorned with other country’s treasures. And if there is an answer to that, I would love to hear it.”