The Lens: Hong Kong pays tribute to ‘the lady in charge’ under British rule, Queen Elizabeth

  • Each week, we choose a picture from the news and provide questions to help you dive deeper into the topic
  • This photo features a sea of flowers for the late monarch who died on September 8 – make some observations before reading the news snippet to learn more
Yanni Chow |

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People in Hong Kong queue up to leave floral tributes while mourning Queen Elizabeth’s death. Photo: Sam Tsang

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Observe and read

  • Do you recognise where this picture was taken?

  • Based on the news snippet, do you think the late queen was close to Hongkongers’ hearts? Why?

News snippet

Hundreds of Hongkongers visited the British consulate last week to offer their condolences to the late Queen Elizabeth.

Members of the public laid floral tributes and formed patient queues outside the British Consulate-General in Admiralty to say their goodbyes.

Britain’s longest-serving head of state died on September 8 at the age of 96. On social media, people posted sentimental messages and pictures of the queen’s visits to the city in 1975 and 1986.

Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu joined a chorus of world leaders who mourned the death of the British royal.

“She was greatly respected, admired and praised by the British people,” Lee said.

Outside the British consulate, some Hongkongers could be heard referring to the late queen as si tau po, a Cantonese term of endearment that translates to “the lady in charge”. Used by civil servants in colonial times, the term later took on a wider meaning similar to “boss lady”.

It also has a sense of affinity and can-do spirit.

“We will miss you forever, si tau po,” one mourner wrote.

Another penned: “Hong Kong has been having a difficult time ... Your departure is another piece of sudden sad news that adds to the pain of 2022.”

Hong Kong is no longer under British rule, but the monarch’s influence can still be seen.

Queen Elizabeth Hospital, one of the city’s busiest public medical facilities, is named after her, as is Queen Elizabeth Stadium in Wan Chai.

Meanwhile, in Britain, the queen’s death has reinvigorated antiroyalist sentiments, with police arresting a series of people protesting against the monarchy last week. Anti-royalists believe the country should be ruled by an elected representative instead of monarchs who inherit their title and wealth by birth.

Staff writers and Yanni Chow

Research and discuss

  • What do you think the queen’s death means for Britain’s monarchy system?

  • Should Britain abolish the monarchy?

Thoughts from last week

Former leader of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev (left) talks to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Gorbachev died on August 20, 2022. Photo: TNS

Read last week’s snippet: A death mourned around the world

Mikhail Gorbachev was the last leader of the Soviet Union, from 1985 to its dissolution in 1991, and Vladimir Putin is the current president of Russia. They are both influential and patriotic leaders, and many say they are polar opposites.

The two leaders saw the world and Russia’s position in it quite differently. Gorbachev promoted democracy, ending the Cold War and liberating hundreds of millions of people. In contrast, Putin has focused on authoritarianism in Russia and invading Ukraine.

Gorbachev is adored by many Western leaders for his peaceful approach, but Putin has become an enemy in the eyes of the US and Europe.

Gorbachev might have hoped for Putin to continue his legacy. But Putin believes Gorbachev’s push for democracy was the “greatest catastrophe of the 20th century” because it led to the Soviet Union’s disintegration and caused much suffering in Russia. Thus, he is determined to undo Gorbachev’s legacy.

Putin may be obnoxious, but he is supported in his country, as he has created a sense of nationalism and has fostered economic growth. Gorbachev may not have appreciated his extreme measures, but Putin seems to have pulled Russia together after the Soviet Union’s collapse.

Valerie Shek, Independent Schools Foundation

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