The fairy-tale wedding of Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, to Prince Harry represented to many the long-overdue modernization of Britain’s most famous family. Nearly three years later, her allegation of racism within the royal family and the media punched a hole in the spectacle, reflecting an all-too-real home truth for Black people and other minorities living in the country.
The pair spoke of racist coverage in the British press during their bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey last week, claims that led to the resignation of the head of the UK Society of Editors after he refused to acknowledge the problem.
Meghan’s allegation that one of her in-laws expressed concern over the color of her then-unborn son Archie has met no such reckoning. Instead, the royals have been placed themselves in the apex of the culture wars, which have been growing since last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests. These saw Prime Minister Boris Johnson deny that the UK was a racist country — ignoring evidence of the lived experience of many Black British people.
British commentators questioned the validity of her claims. “We don’t know exactly what was said, we don’t know how it was said, we don’t know who said it. The only context that we can give to this story is one, frankly, conjured up out of our own fantasies and prejudices,” wrote columnist David Aaronovitch in the center-right British daily, the Times. “We need to push back hard against this. Intention matters, context matters, facts matter. If “feelings” are all that count, then eventually we are, every one of us, potentially lost to someone else’s emotional intensity. And that, not duchesses, is what matters here. “Last week, Prince William told reporters that the royals were “very much not a racist family,” days after the Palace said that — “while recollections vary” — the serious claims were going to be addressed by the family privately. The Palace has however hired an external law firm to investigate claims that Meghan bullied royal staff.