2 Black Women 'Took Down' Monarchy's Final Myths

Meghan Markle and Oprah force a reckoning on British racism, and Prince Harry is fully on board
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 9, 2021 10:30 AM CST
2 Black Women 'Took Down' Monarchy's Final Myths
This image shows Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, left, speaking with Oprah Winfrey.   (Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions via AP)

If you expected the Oprah interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry to make a few headlines on celebrity sites and disappear, think again. The fallout over their allegations of racism—particularly that the royal family was concerned about the color of their son's skin—continues to resonate. Coverage:

  • Markle helped dismantle the fading "Disney-like" image of the royal family, writes Karen Attiah in a Washington Post opinion piece. Winfrey, she adds, "perfectly channeled the shock and frustration felt by many Black women watching," including Attiah herself. All in all, these two Black women "took down whatever fantasies remained about the British monarchy," reads the headline on the piece. The interview made clear that Britain's long and brutal history of racism and white supremacy endure, even if they're hidden behind "the soft-power propaganda" of a grandmother-like queen.
  • In the New York Times, Salamishah Tillet writes that the interview shows Prince Harry is confronting his own white privilege. Harry called out his own family for failing to come to Markle's defense against racist attacks in tabloids. "And with that confession, Harry declared his independence from British racism—whether he realizes it goes beyond his family's treatment of his son and is an essential ingredient to the monarchy itself, I don't know," Tillet writes. But this has the potential to open a new chapter for his own family history "and bequeath his children a legacy of antiracism. And if that is the case, it really will be better than any fairy tale ever imagined."

  • Late-night hosts Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel weighed in, and both backed Harry and Meghan. "I'm gonna go on a limb here and say there's a possibility that this medieval, selective breeding program might be racist," said Colbert, per Deadline. Kimmel: "You know things are bad at Buckingham Palace if they came to [America] to get away from racism."
  • A Washington Post story on all this notes that the royal family seemed to embrace Markle's entry into the family, at least initially. "It looked like the monarchy was actually poised to maybe serve as an example of how to move forward ... on these issues in a progressive way," says an Emory University professor. But the Winfrey interview shattered that notion quickly and "represents a new inflection point in the global racial reckoning of the past year," write Ashley Fetters and Jennifer Hassan.
  • The Post story examines previous racial controversies involving members of the royal family, including Prince Philip telling a group of British students in China, "If you stay here much longer you'll all be slitty-eyed." And journalist Anita Sethi accused Prince Charles in an op-ed of failing to see her as British because of her brown skin.
  • Markle's estranged father came to the defense of the palace, notes Us Weekly. "I don't think the British royal family are racist at all," said Thomas Markle. "I don't think the British are racist. I think Los Angeles is racist, California is ... racist, but I don't think the Brits are." As for his daughter's allegation that the palace was worried about her son's skin color, he chalked it up to somebody asking a "stupid question," not systemic racism.
(More Meghan Markle stories.)

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