City Research Online

The Queen in the Cayman Islands: symbolic power and colonial continuities

Carrington, G. (2023). The Queen in the Cayman Islands: symbolic power and colonial continuities. Small States & Territories, 6(2), pp. 151-168.


This article examines the symbolic role of Queen Elizabeth II in local politics in the Cayman Islands, exploring the ways the monarchy was invoked to bolster a sense of loyalty to Britain, to maintain the colonial status quo and to legitimise the power of local elites. After the death of the Queen in 2022, historians have been reflecting on her legacy in countries across the Commonwealth. In British Overseas Territories like the Cayman Islands, where she remained Queen for the entirety of her reign, her death was more visibly commemorated than in many independent, formerly colonised nations where her legacy appeared more complicated and controversial. Nonetheless, a closer look at the symbolic power of the Queen reveals how, in the Cayman Islands, the British monarchy functioned to symbolically reinforce the colonial order rooted in White supremacy during the mid-twentieth century. This helped to maintain the political dominance of powerful merchant families and to stifle attempts at alternative leadership. Thus, the Queen was a symbol of continuity in the Cayman Islands, in more ways than one, facilitating ongoing colonial and racial inequalities.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article has been published by University of Malta:
Publisher Keywords: Caribbean, Cayman Islands, decolonisation, monarchy, overseas territories, Queen Elizabeth II, race, United Kingdom
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
E History America > E11 America (General)
J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > International Politics
SWORD Depositor:
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