Buckingham Palace was criticised after Meghan Markle, the first mixed-raced royal, alleged that one member of the family had pondered over what colour her and Prince Harry’s first-born, Archie, would be. The claims prompted calls for the monarchy in the United Kingdom to be abolished.
Queen Elizabeth II supports the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, according to Sir Ken Olisa. Speaking on Channel 4 one of the monarch’s senior representatives said he had discussed “the whole issue of race” and racism in society with senior members of the family in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.
“It’s a hot conversation topic. The question is what more can we do to bind society to remove these barriers. [The royals] care passionately about making this one nation bound by the same values,” said Sir Ken Olisa, who is the first coloured Lord-Lieutenant for London.
When asked whether the Royal Family supports BLM, the representative said: “The answer is really yes.”
Allegations of Racism
The statement is likely to take pressure off Buckingham Palace, which has been intensely criticised this year after the tell-all interview Prince Harry and Meghan Markle gave to US talkshow host Oprah Winfrey.
During the conversation the Duchess of Sussex, whose mother is coloured, claimed that one member of the family wondered about what colour skin the couple’s first-born, Archie, would have.
“Because they were concerned that if he were too brown, that would be a problem? Are you saying that?” asked TV host Oprah Winfrey.
“If that’s the assumption you are making, I think that feels like a pretty safe one”, Meghan Markle replied.
She refused to reveal the name of the royal, but off camera said that it wasn’t the Queen or her late husband Prince Philip.
Prince Harry said he was deeply saddened that no member of the family condemned the racist treatment of Meghan Markle by the UK press, and the Duchess suggested that racism could be behind the Palace’s decision to not give Archie security protection, to which all royal members are entitled. She also suggested that it might also be the reason he is not styled “Prince” although in this case she was unaware of the 1917 decision by George V to limit how many people could be styled “Prince” or “Princess”.
The allegations prompted widespread condemnation and calls for a boycott of the Royal Family. A UK lobbying firm launched a petition asking the government to abolish the monarchy.
How Has the Palace Responded?
The Royal Family released a statement saying it would privately address the allegations of racism, but noted that “some recollections may vary”. Later Prince William spoke to reporters, saying “we’re very much not racist family”.
What is Black Lives Matter?
The organisation draws attention to the issues of racism and police brutality. The movement appeared in 2013 after two US activists started a hashtag #BlackLivesMatter to protest against the acquittal of Hispanic American George Zimmerman who had fatally shot black 17-year-old, Trayvon Martin, during an altercation in 2012 in Sanford, Florida. The popularity of the movement has grown over the years as its members shine the spotlight on high-profile cases of African-Americans who have been killed by police in the United States.
BLM gained momentum around the world after the death of George Floyd, which occurred in May 2020. Back then police received a call about a man [Floyd] who allegedly paid for his groceries with a forged banknote. Footage recorded by bystanders showed that during the arrest Floyd was pinned to the ground with one officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeling on his neck. Floyd repeatedly told Chauvin that he was unable to breathe. Despite pleas, the officer kept kneeling on his neck for almost nine minutes even after Floyd lost consciousness.
The news of Floyd’s death sparked massive protests against racism and police brutality in the United States, which continued for months. Similar demonstrations were held in almost all parts of the world, including in the United Kingdom, France, Iran, Germany, Brazil, Japan, Australia.