Accusations of Racism Against the Crown
On March 7 at 8 pm ET, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry sat down with Oprah Winfrey for an exclusive interview that aired on CBS Primetime. During the interview, the couple revealed bombshells that will have long-lasting consequences for the Crown.
In the interview, Meghan said she had suicidal thoughts because of her life as a royal. When Meghan asked a senior royal about the possibility of receiving inpatient care, she was allegedly denied because it “wouldn’t be good for the institution.” Meghan and Harry disclosed that the royal family had essentially abandoned them. Harry said his father, Prince Charles, had stopped taking his calls. He said, “I feel really let down because he’s been through something similar,” in reference to his mother, Princess Diana. Markle said she realized that the royal family was “willing to lie to protect other members of the family, but they weren’t willing to tell the truth to protect [her and her] husband.”
However, the most shocking part of the interview was when Meghan revealed a conversation that Harry had with a member of the royal household when she was pregnant with their firstborn. “We have in tandem the conversation of ‘He won’t be given security, he’s not going to be given a title’ and also concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born,” Meghan said. To put it more bluntly, Harry said someone had expressed concern about, “what will the kids look like?”
Meghan’s account of racism inside of Buckingham Palace has far-reaching effects for the royal family and the British media.
Among the Britons who have identified with Meghan Markle as biracial members of a white family, the allegations of racism have hit home. Adam Handy, a novelist from London, told the New York Times memories of his white mother being disowned when she married his father, a Black man. Handy said, “The idea that there’s someone who says I can’t be a prince..that there’s some inherent flaw or defect because of the color of my skin, it’s deeply, deeply offensive.”
Mark Leonard, who is the director of the European Council on Foreign Relations and has written about modernizing the institution, told the Times, “The whole experience with Meghan shows the monarchy’s ambivalent relationship with the reinvention of Britishness.” The royal family has not acknowledged the pressures Meghan faced because of her ethnicity.
The UK is not familiar with the subject of race, many Black Britons say. David Yelland, a former editor of the British newspaper, the Sun, said, “There is a huge ignorance of what racism is in this country.” This ignorance of race is compounded by British media.
The New York Times reported on a 2019 study from the University of Leeds that found that minorities were featured prominently in news coverage about “immigration, terrorism, and crime” despite receiving little to no general news coverage. At the height of the Black Lives Matter protests, not a single Black reporter was featured in any of the major British publications.
As an example of the fallout from the interview in British media, Piers Morgan, a host of the ITV show “Good Morning Britain,” resigned after attacking Markle, saying he didn't believe she really entertained thoughts of suicide. More than 40,000 complaints were given to ITV and a direct complaint from Meghan herself.
Two days after the interview, the Queen responded. She said, “The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan.” The Queen acknowledged the allegations of racism and said the royal family will address them. Prince William has said, in response to a reporter that, “We’re very much not a racist family.”
What the royal family will do to address the allegations of racism is not clear, however, it is very clear that something must be done to address the allegations as the Crown represents not only Great Britain, but also the Commonwealth, a group of ex-colonies with mainly nonwhite populations.