Harry and Meghan’s recent interview with Oprah Winfrey revealed shocking evidence of alleged racism within the British royal family. During the highly-anticipated re-branding exercise on US television, Meghan revealed that senior unnamed figures within the House of Windsor were deeply concerned that their child Archie would have dark skin. Furthermore, Archie’s complexion would apparently preclude him from certain privileges accorded other royal children.
Social media users and commentators were aghast at the revelation.
Are people genuinely surprised that such overt racism exists within the institution which drove the most wide-reaching colonisation of the modern era?
Racism is central to colonisation.
Britain took possession of more indigenous lands than any other European power. This is how English came to be the international language. Those lands were claimed in the name of the reigning King or Queen.
Terra Nullius is a salient example of manifested racism, and it was central to colonisation. Terra Nullius means ‘uninhabited land’, and this theory justified the invasion of many lands, including the nation now known as Australia. The premise of Terra Nullius is that the people who inhabited the lands when the British arrived were not people. Defining the original inhabitants in this way allowed the British to invade and steal land that they knew belonged to someone else.
Except the British knew they were people. They saw people in every land they reached. The British interacted with many of them, they established peaceful and constructive connections with some of them – initially. They knew they were people. However, their ingrained racial superiority and dismissal of the cultures of the indigenous people allowed them to plant the Union Jack on inhabited land throughout the world and to claim that land as their own.
In Australia, the Aboriginal people were classified as Flora and Fauna. Yes, people were relegated to the status of plants and animals, and the British royal family was entirely complicit in this action. It was not until 1967 that Aboriginal people were classified as humans, after non-Aboriginal Australians voted in favour of changing the classification during a referendum.
The British royal family encouraged, supported and funded the colonisation of other people’s lands in the South Pacific, South-Eastern Africa, the Caribbean, the sub-continent, South-East Asia and North America. Racism thrived in the royal family during the era of colonisation, and it thrives to this day, in the form of Prince Philip.
The ageing husband of the Queen, and Harry’s grandfather, is famous for his outrageously racist comments, such as:
“If you stay here much longer, you will go home with slitty eyes.” Said to a British student in China in 1986.
“You managed not to get eaten then?” Said to someone who had just hiked across Papua New Guinea.
“How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to pass the test?” Said to a Scottish driving instructor in 1995.
“Do you still throw spears at each other?” The Prince to Aboriginal Elder William Brin in Queensland, 2002.
These comments cannot simply be dismissed as the ravings of an unbalanced old man, because he was quite young when he uttered some of them.
The British royal family has a long history of racism, and the justification it used to invade and colonise the lands of indigenous people throughout the world proves the existence of racism.
Harry, Meghan, Oprah and the rest of the world should not be surpirsed.
Senior figures within the royal family were apparently deeply concerned that Archie’s skin would be dark, but at least it proves that he is not inbred.