Andy Higginbottom, writing from London, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The mainstream view is summed up: “Queen Elizabeth II Was a Pillar of Stability in Tumultuous Times”. In contrast to this, I want to point out the UK royalty’s role in securing a stability at home that is paid for by tumultuous times abroad.
You can see in the news coverage that all royal family are wearing military uniforms, except Andrew, although even he gets to wear his battle medals. The royal family were and continue to be central figureheads of Empire, not only of the past but in the form that it takes today. They are used by the ruling class to justify a modern form of imperialism. With decolonisation much of the formal empire has gone, but the royals continue to play a key role in reinforcing both the soft and the hard power of informal empire. The Windsor family as a dynasty are the figureheads of the military, financial and extractivist modern British neo-colonial imperialism. Their role is hidden in plain sight.
Let us highlight this with some examples.
Elizabeth and Kenya
Princess Elizabeth learnt of the death of her father in 1952 while she was staying in the Treetops Hotel in Kenya, at which point she immediately became Queen. What the official account omits is that this safari lodge was in the Happy Valley of white settlers, close to the forested Aberdare mountains, where an anti-colonial insurgency had already started by the Land and Freedom Army. Around that time the British started bombing the Aberdare forests, and later they imprisoned 1.5 million Kenyans, raping, torturing and brutally beating to death thousands.
Kenya did achieve independence, but only after the militants had been defeated and the space was given to the moderates who kept British commercial interests in place, only now with corrupt deals. The Kenya transition to neo-colonialism was one of several that Elizabeth presided over. This year Kenyans approached Prince William for reparations for their lands stolen to make way for tea plantations, but they have received no answer. Right to today the British army runs training exercises on these white-owned lands stolen from Africans, where they cause a lot of damage. 
Connections with Saudi Arabia, and the Persian Gulf states Dubai, Bahrain, Oman.
Extensive, pioneering journalism by Declassified UK demonstrates that the royal family is a major tool of UK foreign policy in the Middle East. It has numerous close connections with the dictatorial regimes of Saudi Arabia, and the Persian Gulf states Dubai, Bahrain, Oman; for obvious enough reasons of commercial interest and sometimes more disguised reasons of geo-strategy.
According to Declassified UK’s research, Prince Andrew “held 70 meetings repressive Middle East monarchies in the 10 years after Arab Spring pro-democracy protests rocked the region in 2011.” Charles held 95 meetings with eight repressive monarchies in the Middle East in the same period. The Queen was close friends with the Sultan of Oman who flew 110 horses to her Diamond Jubilee pageant.  Dubai’s dictator, Sheikh Mohammed, is a kingpin of horse racing in the UK, and the Queen’s honoured guest at Royal Ascot. While the royals meet, greet and go horse or camel racing in public, the arms dealers, oil companies, and the military intelligence officers make their deals in the background.
For her platinum jubilee celebrations in the rulers of Dubai and Bahrain gave Elizabeth a horse, as did the dictator of Azerbaijan. British company BP has an oilfield there, with a pipeline through Turkey. Prince Andrew is the patron of a Tatlidil Forum that links the British establishment and arms dealers with Turkish premier Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The British air force is heavily involved in supplying weapons and training for the Saudi bombing of Yemen. The UK runs 16 bases in Oman and is expanding its presence there to be able to service its two new aircraft carriers.
The royal family has intimate links with the military
The royal family has intimate links with the military. Their role is to present an acceptable face for UK armed forces as a legitimate expeditionary force with the right and the capacity to intervene globally, often as a trusted ally of the US.
The UK military is relatively strong in its naval capacity, Latin Americans will remember the war to keep the Malvinas islands in the South Atlantic that Prince Andrew served in. There has been a return to navy significance in international power politics with the US strategic turn to the Indo Pacific region, to contain China. Colombians especially will know the significance of Panama, the territory was taken in order secure the canal as an interoceanic link crucial to the expansion of US imperialism into the Pacific theatre at the beginning of the twentieth century. We have a similar pattern today, with a new focus on the Indian Ocean because it is the route for oil exports out of the Persian Gulf. The UK works hard to control the choke points, the royal family is close to the Sultan of Oman that controls the Straits of Hormuz, the UK made sure of Singapore to control the Malagasy Straits, and access to Trincomalee Harbour in Sri Lanka was the primary imperial motive for backing the genocidal massacre of 70,000 plus Tamils in 2009.
Another example is the use of aircraft carriers. Only a few countries have them, so why are they needed? They are clearly an offensive weapon to rapidly project naval and air power. UK has just built two new ones, they are named Elizabeth and Charles. The first commission of the Elizabeth was to lead a battle group in joint operations with the US off the coast of China. The Charles is identified as the flagship of NATO, but it has been leaking and had to be returned for repairs, so there is some doubt as to its seaworthiness, which may be an omen for the new King.
The Queen insisted that her son Charles will become the new head of the Commonwealth, that association of 56 formerly colonised nations. During her reign Elizabeth reportedly visited 20 of the 21 countries in Africa that are members of the Commonwealth. Opinion there is divided along lines of those elites in power who benefitted from neo-colonialism, such as South African President Cyril Ramaphosa; against the many voices who decry the continued exploitation of the continent.
Although it barely receives attention, there are 100 companies cited on the London Stock Exchange that are still exploiting Africa’s wealth, especially in minerals and other natural resources. This is the economic outcome of managed transitions like in Kenya and South Africa.
As their African counterparts, the 13 Commonwealth countries in the Caribbean have been demanding reparations from the UK for the holocaust of slavery. The royal family were massive beneficiaries of the capture, enslavement and working to death of Africans on the plantations, but even the more liberal members of the younger generation William and Harry will only state their ‘regret’, but will not formally apologise, for that would give a legal opening to compensation claims. No reparations from the royals then.
The combination of soft power and economic interest that links the royals with neo-colonial and dictatorial regimes should not be underestimated. In Modi's India, official flags have been flying at half-mast, as they have been in the white settler states Canada and Australia.  Needless to say, the indigenous peoples of these territories continue to point out the colonial role of the royalty. 
We have seen the pageantry parades behind Elizabeth’s coffin in London this week. Some of the soldiers have been brought back from the Middle East, from South East Asia, from Africa to take part. This is not just medieval but a traditional cloak for modern imperialism.
The Land and Freedom Army destroyed the Treetops Hotel, which has since been rebuilt. We still have a long way to go before the UK royalty and its empire are destroyed once and for all.
 See Caroline Elkins (2005) Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain’s Gulag in Kenya and in discussion with Mukoma Wa Ngugi and Amy Goodman at https://www.democracynow.org/2022/9/12/queen_elizabeth_dead_british_colonialism_africa
 https://declassifieduk.org/exclusive-kenyan-boy-lost-arms-in-british-war-game/ and https://declassifieduk.org/british-army-ignored-five-fires-before-sparking-kenya-inferno/
 See Andy Higginbottom (2020) ‘Colonialism Still Matters: Militarisation and Imperial Grand Strategy in the Era of US vs China’ in Fernando, Jude Lal (editor) (Resistance to Empire and Militarization: Reclaiming the Sacredness of Lives, Lands and Seas Sheffield: Equinox Press; 251-269
 https://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/news-and-latest-activity/news/2021/november/24/211124-usmc-depart-qnlz and https://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/news-and-latest-activity/features/carrier-strike
 https://theprint.in/india/india-mourns-demise-of-queen-elizabeth-ii-national-flags-fly-at-half-mast/1124179/ ; https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/news/2022/09/half-masting-the-national-flag-of-canada-in-honour-of-her-majesty-queen-elizabeth-ii.html ; https://www.dlgsc.wa.gov.au/department/news/news-article/2022/09/09/australian-national-flag-to-fly-at-half-mast
 https://www.forces.net/royals/queen/militarys-involvement-queens-funeral-last-duty-our-queen-and-our-first-duty-our-king ; https://www.romaniajournal.ro/society-people/romanian-prince-cristopher-ghika-leads-the-queen-elizabeths-funeral-ceremonies/
By Andy Higginbottom