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Queen Elizabeth's death opens old wounds in London district

Southall   -  
Copyright © africanews

United Kingdom

For many in Southall, the queen's death re-opened the old wounds of a complicated history.

Southall's early South Asian immigrants left the subcontinent within a decade of Partition in 1947, arriving in London to work in factory assembly lines. Wages were low and hours long. Laborers coming from northern India in particular had lost land and savings through the mass dislocation that accompanied Partition.

"We have mixed reactions, you see. if you, um, read the history and the history of what actually happened in our countries, um, the massacres, the atrocities that have happened under the guidance of Her Majesty, um, of the monarchy," said Dalawar Majid Chaudhry, owner of a Pakistani restaurant in Southall.

Janpal Basran, the head of the Southall Community Alliance, takes a pragmatic approach to the events unfolding around him. He is more focused on how the newly minted King Charles III plans to help recover from the economic woes.

"The queen, you know, since 1952, has been, you know, the head of state, someone who's overseen a lot of change, who's overseen a lot of the independence of many countries. So, you know, it's quite startling for many people that that person is no longer there. And I think they'll be looking forward to the future. You know, Prince Charles is someone who has quite progressive views about, you know, culture, about the environment, about our communities, I think quite a supporter of a more multicultural Britain. So I think, you know, what he says and how he rules will be viewed with a lot of interest and support."

The turbulent history, paired with the recent advent of social movements like Black Lives Matter, has led to an awakening among younger people seeking to dissect colonial legacies. Their relationship with the monarchy - in particular the notion of empire and the deeds of Elizabeth's forefathers - is strained.

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