Queen Elizabeth’s death and funeral
Hundreds queued up outside the British consulate in Hong Kong on Monday morning to offer flowers and to sign a book of condolence in remembrance of Queen Elizabeth II.
Hong Kong was a British colony for 156 years until 1997 when it was returned to Chinese rule, but Beijing now appears to have rejected that status, referring to the period as a “forcible occupation” that should not be regarded as legitimate.
The Queen, who visited Hong Kong twice during her 70 year reign, is remembered by many in the city as “Boss Lady” or “lady in charge” in Cantonese.
Among those outside the consulate office on Monday was retiree Sylvia Lee, who said she was saddened to hear of the Queen’s death on Friday, adding she thought the Queen was a symbol of stability across the world.
“No one lives forever and we knew this day would come someday. She was a respected figure, and the government during the colonial period made many contributions to Hong Kong’s development, especially in the 70s and 80s,” Lee told CNN, referring to a period when governors appointed to the city built up its public housing and transport infrastructure.
Chapman Wu, 40, also brought along his young daughter, to pay tribute and offer flowers to the Queen.
Wu said that without the British Empire, having religious freedom in the city might not have been possible under Chinese rule. Christianity was brought in Hong Kong as early as 1841 when the city came under British rule after the First Opium War.
“I won’t comment politically, but without being a former British colony, Hong Kong might not have religious freedom,” he told CNN.
“Otherwise, who knows if we’d be able to practice any religion at all, especially with religious repression of Christians in China.”
Both Beijing loyalists and Hong Kong politicians protested against British control during the colonial period, but in recent years, a more favorable view of the colonial government has emerged among pro-democracy groups, with many adopting the colonial flag as a radical sign of resistance to Chinese one-party rule during the 2019 anti-government protests.