Royal family’s words and actions indicate systemic racism

Photo Courtesy of Marie Claire

Photo Courtesy of Marie Claire

Claire Moeser, Staff Reporter

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, sat down with Oprah Winfrey early last month for an interview regarding their decision to step back from their positions as senior members of the British royal family. Their conversation covered racism, mental health, and relationships in the royal family and “the institution” or “the firm” as the couple often refers to. 

Days after the interview, Prince William was stopped by a reporter who asked him, “Is the royal family a racist family, sir?”

Prince William replied, “We’re very much not a racist family.”

I disagree. The royal family’s actions speak louder than their words.

The couple said that racism was “a large part” of why they left the UK.

The Duchess revealed the royal family was not planning on giving their son a title, meaning he would not receive security. This was happening alongside “concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born.”

The institution continues to display racism in their unwillingness to defend the Duchess from the British press. 

Additional clips from the interview were released in which the Duchess said, “And if a member of his family will comfortably say, ‘We’ve all had to deal with things that are rude,’ rude and racist are not the same. And equally, you’ve had a press team that goes on the record to defend you, especially when they know something’s not true. And that didn’t happen for us.” 

Harry said, “the UK press is bigoted specifcally the tabloids” and “if the source of the information is inherently corrupt ot racist then that filters out to the rest of society.”

British tabloids published rumors of Meghan making Kate Middleton cry months after Harry and Meghan’s wedding. Meghan said the institution refused to correct the false claim.

The royal family was willing to defend Prince Andrew when his connections to Jeffrey Epstein, child sex trafficker, became known to the public. In 2019, Prince Andrew stepped down from his royal duties, but was allowed to keep his title and security. 

The stark contrast between the actions of the royal family to protect Prince Andrew and Meghan Markle is unconscionable. The Duchess described having severe thoughts of suicide, and she was prevented from checking into a treatment center when she asked for help. The couple said they felt “trapped” in the royal family, leading to their decision to step down as senior members. The institution cut off security and financial support in early 2020, while the couple was living in Vancouver finalizing their exit. They were able to pay for security using inheritance money from Harry’s late mother, Princess Diana. 

Meghan Markle, who has an African-American mother and white father, married Harry, sixth in line to the throne, in May 2018. The world embraced the Sussex’s marriage, as people of color in the British Commonwealth and around the globe celebrated representation in the royal family. The actions of the royal family have made it clear they do not hold the same value on representation. 

The British Monarchy has a long history of racism and white supremacy.

The Crown issued many charters to fund the slave trade, and the British Atlantic Empire heavily relied on slaves to profit from the production of crops grown in their colonies. The Queen has never commented on the royal family’s connection to slavery and colonialism.  

Their method of appointing head of state, where the first born in an all-white family is the monarch, has  created a lack of diversity within the family. This lack of diversity is inconsistent with the commonwealth, which the family is supposed to represent.

For the royal family to truly not be a racist family, they must address the racism, past and present, in the family. They can start with acknowledging the ways they fostered and profited from slavery and modernizing its outdated traditions to better represent the commonwealth. These changes are dependent on the royal family accepting that relationships with its members are more important than public image.