BRITAIN: The fairy tale of Harry and Meghan tells of racism in the palace – opinion

By MOHAMED HAMALUDIN

British Prince Harry married biracial divorced American actress Meghan Markle on May 19, 2018, in a fairy-tale wedding like no other for the House of Windsor.

As The Washington Post recalled on Monday, Michael Curry of Chicago, the African American presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, delivered a sermon in the 1,000-year-old St. George’s Cathedral. A gospel choir sang Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me.” The couple left the cathedral to the strains of “This Little Light of Mine.”           

It was an occasion “nudging the British royal family into a new era,” The Times said. “Their choices at the wedding, many of them heavily influenced by black culture, made clear they plan to project a more inclusive monarchy. In a time of tribalism and separation, it was a clear move toward an integrated modern future from the oldest of houses.”

The Times also noted that some African American women who had flown in for the wedding were moved to tears. “One of the children of slaves is marrying a royal whose forerunners sanctioned slavery; the lion is lying down with the lamb,” Denise Crawford of Brooklyn told The Times

But not everyone was as jubilant. Tiwa Adebayo recalled for The Associated Press that “every person of color in the U.K. was worried.” The British monarchy, she said, was “an institution that is rooted in colonialism. It’s based on white supremacy.”

However, Markle’s introduction to British racism came from a different source – two years before the wedding. Headlines that greeted the news that she and her prince were dating included, “Harry’s girl is (almost) straight outta Compton.” The Daily Mail obliged with the city’s crime statistics.

Rachel Johnson wrote in The Daily Mail, “Genetically, she is blessed. If there is issue from her alleged union with Prince Harry, the Windsors will thicken their watery, thin blue blood and Spencer pale skin and ginger hair with some exotic DNA.”

After the couple’s son Archie was born, Danny Baker of the BBC’s Radio 5 Live tweeted a black-and-white photo of the couple holding hands with a young chimpanzee dressed in a jacket and wearing a hat. The caption: “Royal baby leaves hospital.” Blake, who thought he was being funny, was fired.

The couple faced this tabloid assault continuously, complaining without success to media leaders and to Buckingham Palace. They made their own exit from Britain early last year, first to Canada and then the United States. They stopped working as members of the royal family. Harry’s honorary titles and royal patronage appointments were taken away, as were Meghan’s patronage appointments. They also surrendered the titles His Royal Highness and Her Royal Highness, though the queen let them keep the titles Duke and Duchess of Sussex. The couple eventually ended up in in Montecito near Santa Barbara, Calif., with a lot of help from movie mogul Tyler Perry, and they negotiated deals with Netflix and Spotify.

The rest of the fractured fairy tale was told on Sunday night when CBS aired a two-hour interview of Harry and Meghan by Oprah Winfrey, seen by an estimated 17.1 million viewers in the U.S. In it, Meghan disclosed that when she was pregnant with Archie, an unnamed royal asked about her baby’s skin color. “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 is born,” she said to an astonished Winfrey. Harry confirmed her account but both declined to name names. Winfrey later said they ruled out the queen her husband Prince Philip.

Meghan also disclosed that life in the royal family had been so suffocating that she developed suicidal thoughts. “I was ashamed to have to admit it to Harry,” she told Winfrey. “I knew that if I didn’t say it, I would do it. I just didn’t want to be alive anymore.”  She sought mental health help from the palace, she said, but was turned down because it “wouldn’t look good for the institution.”

Harry, too, said he had felt “trapped” in the royal lifestyle before getting together with Meghan and that, “without question, she saved me.”

Some have seen Meghan’s remarks as a moment of racial reckoning. “The fact is, the British monarchy played a foundational role in the transatlantic slave trade,” Emory University Professor Kali Nichole Gross told The Post. “These folks basically built their empire off the backs of Black bodies and blood and enslavement. They played a foundational role in setting up anti-Black racism globally.”

The reverberations have been loud from the Commonwealth of Nations comprising former British colonies whose citizens are mostly non-European. “This is pure racism,” said Ghanaian Devina Cudjoe, adding that the Commonwealth “is supposed to foster unity amongst black people, amongst white people.”

Some Black Britons, who comprise under four percent of the population, had in fact welcomed the couple’s departure. “Thank God they are free,” Londoner Sanaa Edness had told The Times then, raising her arms to the sky. “Nobody should tolerate bullying and abusive behavior because of the color of their skin. All of this is about race. I know it because as a Caribbean woman who did not grow up here, I have experienced it myself.”

Mohamed Hamaludin is a Guyana-born journalist who worked for several years at The Guyana Chronicle in the 1970s and on publications in the Cayman Islands and Turks and Caicos Islands before emigrating in 1984 to the United States, where he worked at The Miami Times, the Miami Herald and the South Florida Times.  Though now retired, he writes a commentary every week or two for The South Florida Times (sfltimes.com) in which the above column first appeared. He may be reached at hamal1942@gmail.com

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Comments

  • mudhead2  On 03/11/2021 at 2:36 am

    The race card has truly been played. I can say I take the statements with a pinch of salt. For one The Queen is anything but racist.

    • Dennis Albert  On 03/11/2021 at 7:03 am

      But did the Queen benefit from a legacy of colonialism and enslavement?

  • brandli62  On 03/11/2021 at 3:26 pm

    The monarchy is at the core of class society in the UK. It’s time to abolish the monarchy once Queen Elizabeth has passed away. The monarchy and the system of aristocrats just perpetuate a system where birth rights determine and not merit whether you become head of state or member of the House of Lords. Most European nations abolished their monarchies in the 20th century and none want them back. The monarchy in Spain is probably the next to go, given all the scandals in recent years.

  • Morning star  On 03/13/2021 at 4:16 pm

    At first I thought that Meghan was given a hard time but then I looked at who attended her wedding from the bride’s side. Why wasn’t this lady allow ed to bring a companion or another relative ?? It seems that because Megan doesn’t get on her with her own family so why should Harry ? With covid pandemic, people losing their homes and jobs and people dying literally every day it was extremely bad timing .I understand that there is a racism every where but these people have gone about it the wrong way Oprah interview was a joke! This person made me cry and my son is called black blah blah . honestly they should have not been interviewed.it was such an embarrassing interview. Normally if people have issues at home they cuss each other not on go on television!!

    • Emanuel  On 03/13/2021 at 9:39 pm

      It is high time for the British Monarchy to fade away into the dustbin of history. Their lingering existence into the 21st century is like a bad cough that won’t go away.

      The Monarchy is a painful reminder of that period in history of global domination over defenceless nations and the plunder and theft and the atrocities. This institution is a bitter reminder of the ugly slave trade and inhumane conditions of life on the plantations and the unimaginable human sufferings that the victims had to endure until the end of their lives.

      Tell me, isn’t it time to eradicate this dinosaur from the face of the earth once and for all?

      Emanuel

      • Morning star  On 03/14/2021 at 4:28 am

        Yes they should get rid of monarchy, they are parasite’s .at the end of the day there was no substance to that interview. no name mention and who made who cry.itwas embarrassing , foolish and nonsense.

  • Debster  On 03/13/2021 at 5:14 pm

    Megan got her own agenda .she will dump him when she make money than the queen.

  • brandli62  On 03/14/2021 at 10:08 am

    The monarchy is at the top of the system of aristocracy, where people earn their titles as a birthright not by merit, is an anachronism in the 21st century. Most advanced nations, such as the US, Germany, Austria, Italy, and France, have dumped the monarchy into the dustbin of history. What will it take until the UK comes to the same conclusion?

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