Queen Elizabeth II, peacefully passed away at the age of 96 in London on September 8th, 2022. The Queen inherited the throne at the age of only 25 and reigned for 70 years, making her the longest-serving British monarch in history and the first monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee. During the Queen’s lifetime, she worked with 14 prime ministers and experienced World War II and the global coronavirus pandemic. The sudden passing of the Queen has hit the headlines of media worldwide, including in China. Through social listening, we read how Chinese netizens react to the sudden death of Queen Elizabeth II, and what conversations they sparked.
Here is what netizens are saying about the death of the Queen…
On Chinese social media Weibo, the hashtag #Queen of Britain has died# (英国女王去世) was viewed over 3.6 billion times within five days, under which many Chinese netizens have expressed their feelings and opinions on this critical event in world history. Reactions to the death of the British Queen varied among the keen Chinese netizens. A lot of them have expressed respect and condolences for the Queen, applauding her “contribution during World War II” and calling her a “legend.” Some of the netizens, on the other hand, are more interested in what the death of the Queen would mean for the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. “Expecting the disintegration of the Commonwealth and the collapse of the colonial system,” a Weibo user commented under Global Times’ (环球时报) post on the death of the Queen.
Another tagline, #London Bridge is down# (伦敦桥塌了), the special code for announcing the death of the Queen, has also reached over 540 million views. It also refers to “Operation London Bridge,” which is the funeral plan for the Queen that could be traced back to the 1960s. The London Bridge plan includes the protocol of how Queen Elizabeth’s death should be handled, ranging from the announcement of her death to Charles’ accession to the crone.
Controversies aside, many Chinese netizens are mourning the death of Queen Elizabeth, mostly paying respects and condolences. “(The passing of the Queen) marks the end of an era,” one netizen commented.
Mourning of the Queen could be considered an overreaction to Chinese netizens
Colonized by the British Empire for over a century, Hong Kong has been seeing an outpouring of grief for the death of the Queen. On Weibo, a picture of a woman crying over the passing of the Queen on the streets of Hong Kong has caught the attention of Chinese netizens, which many considered an overreaction.
“Did the British Royal Family invite you to the funeral?” and “Did the Queen know you?”, some netizens commented. Meanwhile, the Queen’s sudden passing has also sparked conversations about Britain’s colonialism past. Under the topic “Britain’s Queen is not my queen” (英女王不是我女王 ), some netizens pointed out the long history of British colonialism. “No point remembering a participant of colonial history,” a netizen said.
Although many are still in midst of the mourning of the Queen, some Chinese netizens are taking an interest in #What challenges will the King of England Charles III face# (查尔斯三世将面临哪些挑战) as his new reign begins. Shortly after taking on the challenging job as the King, King Charles was already frustrated over pen twice, although undoubtedly there was not much time to grieve for him.
“I hope he doesn’t live long enough to see the independence of Scotland and the division of the U.K.,” a netizen left this comment under the hashtag #Charles III was formally proclaimed to be Britain’s new monarch# (查尔斯三世正式宣誓登基成英国新君主). Chinese netizens’ concerns are not completely ungrounded. According to Bloomberg, the support for the monarchy is quite weak among younger people in the U.K., with only one-third of them in favour of the continuation of the British monarchy. “(He’s been) preparing this for his whole life,” a netizen commented.
On a side note, although it has been 25 years since the world lost Princess Diana, it does appear that people still somewhat hold grudges against Camilla, now Queen Consort of the United Kingdom. “I just cannot put my mind at ease thinking about Camilla becoming the Queen Consort,” a netizen said.