Since Queen Elizabeth II’s death last Thursday, the tributes have gone far beyond the UK’s borders. But beyond her image of her longevity, the monarch represents, according to others, the dark hours of the colonial period. Throughout history, the British Empire was in fact one of the largest in the early 20th century, and therefore by definition one of the most powerful.
The role of the queen is therefore often discussed these days, and many wonder in particular about the tributes paid to the one who would have encouraged colonialism. “Do you come from a former British colony and mourn the death of the queen? Concentrate, ”he shouts in particular a user on Twitter. Others have posted a video that would show the Queen of England throwing coins at African children. These images would show that the monarch maintained racist practices related to colonization. Only the internet users are wrong: it is not Elizabeth II in these images.
“Dear Africans, remember this before you cry”. In the video in question, widely circulated on Twitter, the sepia images are accompanied by melodramatic music. In the background, a woman dressed in a large hat and matching jacket throws silver coins at dozens of children. The publications speak of silver coins. With the naked eye you can also see pieces of bread there. A shocking scene, these children treated like animals.
In the image – always with the naked eye – Queen Elizabeth II was clearly seen in the costumes she loved to wear. But on closer inspection, her figure does not match. In addition, writings from Asia rather than Africa can be distinguished in the background on the house.
A film shot in Indochina
We then trace these images, using Google’s reverse image tool. It is actually a film by director Gabriel Veyre, who lived between 1871 and 1936. In particular he has filmed many images of Morocco, South America and Asia. According to the same video found on Youtube, the scene took place in French Indochina [aujourd’hui le Vietnam] and would be dated between April 1899 and March 1900.
On the site of the Lumière brothers’ cinematographic work we find more details. The title reads: “Annamite children collecting coins in front of the women’s pagoda”. The Annamese today correspond to the inhabitants of Vietnam, and the sapeques were the ancient coins used in the Far East.
The wife of a French general
The archive site indicates the names of the two women confused with Elizabeth II. She is actually the wife and daughter of General Paul Doumer. The latter was governor general of Indochina from 1897 to 1902, which corresponds to the dates of the images shot by Gabriel Veyre. A few years later, after several posts as a minister, Paul Doumer became President of the Republic in 1931… until his assassination the following year.
While these images are difficult to see for the brutality they show from the colonial period, they in no way represent the Queen of England. Also, the scene takes place in Vietnam, which was a French colony, not a British one.