MSNBC host uses Queen Elizabeth’s death to expose ‘horrors of colonialism’, comes under fire from British historian


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British historian Andrew Roberts clashed with MSNBC host Ali Velshi on Saturday over the presenter’s claims that while many loved Queen Elizabeth II, others around the world had had enough of her. the British monarchy and saw it as a remnant of colonial oppression.

Roberts called Velshi’s claims “grossly exaggerated” and insisted that between “80 and 85%” of Britons value the monarchy. Velshi defended his framing and insisted that people who hate Britain’s crown be portrayed in his reporting. The segment ended on a tense note between the two.

The dramatic exchange occurred during MSNBC’s “Remembering Queen Elizabeth II” special coverage, in which Velshi and correspondents on location in the UK covered the aftermath of the Queen’s death.

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On Saturday, MSNBC presenter Ali Velshi argued with British historian Andrew Roberts over the controversial legacy of the British Empire.

The cover also featured occasional comments from British guests, such as Roberts, who took issue with Velshi’s first point in their conversation. Velshi started off the segment by saying, “Let’s discuss this: the idea that there are people – we just had a historian who said there are a lot of people who are ‘queenists’, they don’t are not monarchists. They loved it. They are either bored with the institution or think it needs to change or won’t be interested in the next king.”

Roberts immediately dismissed that prospect, saying, “I think that’s frankly overstated. When you look at all the opinion polls, we’re about 80 to 85 percent in favor of a constitutional monarchy, whichever one is. is on the throne.”

“I think it’s wildly over the top, frankly,” the historian added, before explicitly targeting Velshi’s introduction. “On the contrary, I’m afraid to say, as your introduction was, if we had made people suffer so much throughout history, why Charles [III] chosen by each Commonwealth country?

Not liking it, the MSNBC presenter immediately dismissed Roberts’ statements, asking laconically, “Andrew, wait a second. Are you really denying what I just said about British colonialism? Are you really doing this, Andrew Are you really doing this?!”

Velshi scolded, “Andrew, this is not a propaganda show.” He then continued to interrupt his guest, “I need you to stop for a second. Do you really disagree with the horrors of colonialism, Andrew?”

In his coverage of Queen Elizabeth II's death, MSNBC's Velshi reported on the "few millions" of people who see the British monarchy as a horrible oppressor.

In his coverage of Queen Elizabeth II’s death, MSNBC’s Velshi reported on the “several million” people who view the British monarchy as a horrific oppressor.
(Alastair Grant – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Roberts replied, “I certainly take issue with your remarks about slavery, which we abolished 32 years before you did, and we didn’t have to kill 600,000 people in a civil war for it.”

Appearing to personally oppose Roberts’ defense of the monarch, Velshi responded by stating, “When I was born the British Empire still existed.”

Roberts then asked “which country”, to which Velshi replied, “Kenya”. The historian pushed back once more. “It’s true, and Kenyans not only supported the appointments of Prince Charles, now King Charles, to lead the Commonwealth, but we just received a fantastic statement from the President of Kenya saying how great the Queen was wonderful.”

“So why the hell do you want to focus only on the negative stuff of an institution that’s a hundred years old now?” Roberts asked, apparently referring to British colonialism.

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Britain's King Charles III before members of the Privy Council in the Throne Room during the Accession Council at St James's Palace, London on Saturday September 10, 2022 where he was officially proclaimed monarch.

Britain’s King Charles III before members of the Privy Council in the Throne Room during the Accession Council at St James’s Palace, London on Saturday September 10, 2022 where he was officially proclaimed monarch.
(Jonathan Brady/Pool Photo via AP)

Velshi insisted he wasn’t focusing on the negative, simply mentioning the “several million people… who don’t think we should be celebrating the British Monarchy at this time”. The host added that a lot of those people are in Britain, which Roberts scoffed at, adding: “No, not a lot in Britain – where are those people in Britain? You know, like I said it, between 10 and 15% do not want a monarchy.”

Without moving, Velshi asked, “So you’re just willing to dismiss 10 or 15% of the British population who think this is an anachronism?” After somewhat more similar back and forth, Velshi ended the segment and accused Roberts of whitewashing the story to defend the crown.

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