In Brief

Queen supports Black Lives Matter, senior royal aide claims

Official says race is ‘hot conversation topic’ in Royal Family after Sussexes’ ‘racist royal’ allegation

The Queen and the Royal Family are supporters of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, a senior royal representative has said.

Ken Olisa, the first black lord-lieutenant of London, told Channel 4 that he has “discussed with the royal household this whole issue of race, particularly in the last 12 months since the George Floyd incident”.

Adding that discussions around race have become “a hot conversation topic” among the Queen and her family, he added: “The question is what more can we do to bind society to remove these barriers. They [the royals] care passionately about making this one nation bound by the same values.”

Asked whether the monarch and her family support BLM, he replied: “The answer is easily yes.”

The Royal Family faced an unprecedented PR disaster earlier this year when racism allegations made by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle threatened to tarnish the Crown’s reputation.

In an interview with Oprah Winfrey that aired in the US in March, the couple claimed that a member of the family raised “concerns” about “how dark” the colour of their son Archie’s skin would be when he was born

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex declined to name the family member. But the allegations of racism within “The Firm” are dominating headlines and reportedly sent shockwaves through Buckingham Palace.

Family in turmoil

As well as airing the conversation about the colour of Archie’s skin, the couple also said they had concerns about the security of their child after learning he would not be given a title at birth. Complex rules governing how titles are given mean that conventionally Archie would become a prince only once Prince Charles becomes king. But Markle suggested that would leave her son unsafe. 

The US-born duchess said she was upset at “the idea of our son not being safe, and also the idea of the first member of colour in this family not being titled in the same way that other grandchildren would be”, adding: “It’s not their right to take it away.”

She also revealed that she was left feeling suicidal after her 2018 marriage to Prince Harry, telling Winfrey: “I did not want to be alive any more.”

A turning point in her relationship with “The Firm” came after Buckingham Palace did nothing to quash rumours that she had made the Duchess of Cambridge cry at a fitting for bridesmaids’ dresses, Markle said. 

The truth, she claims, was the opposite. “The narrative about making Kate cry I think was the beginning of a real character assassination, and they knew it wasn’t true,” she said.

‘Never complain, never explain’

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex put forward a “new narrative” during the interview, The Times said at the time, adding that “whatever the Royal Family was expecting from this interview, this was worse”.

“The picture that emerged was of a couple who were vulnerable, who felt trapped in their roles and who regarded themselves as unprotected by the institution,” the paper adds.

The Telegraph concured, adding that “hiding behind the sofa” during the interview would not be enough to protect the royals. Instead, the paper says they will need a “bulletproof vest” to get through what was surely a “worst-case scenario” for them all.

Markle’s “tearful admission” that she considered suicide “managed to hammer the penultimate nail in the coffin of the Royals’ already well-honed reputation for mismanging family matters”, the paper continues. And her evocation of the loss of Princess Diana will also not be lost on viewers.

Only the Queen escaped a direct attack, with Markle speaking fondly of their time together, including an anecdote describing how she and the Queen would share a blanket as they travelled to engagements together. 

The Queen emphasised at the time that the couple are still “much-loved members of the family”, despite stepping down from their duties, says the BBC. But the picture that the Sussexes drew of the family was far from an affectionate one, adds BBC’s royal correspondent Jonny Dymond. Rather, they described “unfeeling individuals lost in an uncaring institution”.

“The Queen has spent decades preserving the mystique that is essential to the monarchy’s power; in one two-hour interview they have lobbed a grenade through it,” said Clare Foges in The Times. However, she added that the couple would not emerge from the blast unscathed either.

“It does not do to get too grand in this country, even if you are a duke or duchess,” she argued. Yet “no matter the privilege of their lives, the couple seem determined not only to feel sorry for themselves but to air their grievances regularly”.

In the wake of the controversy, the BBC reported that Prince William told reporters that the Royal Family “is very much not racist” whilst on a school visit in London.

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