Prince William and Kate Middleton have attended Black History Month celebrations for the first time—six years after Meghan Markle became engaged to Prince Harry.
Days after his relationship with Meghan became public in 2016, Harry aimed a statement by his press secretary at “the racial undertones of comment pieces and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls.”
And by 2021, Meghan had leveled allegations at an unnamed royal who she suggested expressed “concern” about the color of her child’s skin. However, Harry later suggested the couple considered this unconscious bias rather than racism.
Two years later, the Prince and Princess of Wales have become the first senior royals to attend a Black History Month event since the celebration began in 1987.
Royal commentator Afua Hagan, a prominent voice on diversity in Britain, told Regalrumination.com she had concerns about the couple’s motivation after past racism storms.
“It just seems to me, why now? And it’s a bit too late,” Hagan said. “Does it ring true for me? I’m not sure. Is it good that they’re marking something? Yes, it is. I mean, the theme for Black History Month is celebrating our sisters. It’s about uplifting black women.
“But they had a black woman in their family, and they chose not to do that. With Meghan Markle, they never marked Black History Month while she was part of that family. I think that’s a real shame and a complete missed opportunity.”
The visit was marking Black History Month and the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the ship HMT Empire Windrush, which brought Caribbean migrants to Britain in 1948.
That generation of Caribbean migrants was desperately needed in Britain at the time to help rebuild after the Second World War but also experienced racism in the United Kingdom.
William and Kate smiled, waved and high-fived as they met school children and spoke to members of the Windrush Generation during a visit to Cardiff, Wales, on October 3.
Among activities, they participated in a table tennis game at the Grange Pavilion and spoke to members of the Ethnic Minority Youth Forum, made up of young people aged 11 to 25.
Hagan was positive about the fact the couple had decided to mark both BHM and the Windrush anniversary while also maintaining her concern about motivation.
She cited a scandal relating to Queen Elizabeth II’s former lady-in-waiting, Susan Hussey, who, in November 2022, stepped down after repeatedly asking a black charity boss where she was from.
“It’s the Prince and Princess Wales doing it, which is good,” she said, “because they have an appeal to a wider population, a younger generation as well.”
“But why now?” she added. “Why haven’t you ever marked it before? Is it because at the end of last year, the royal family was engulfed in a race storm where you had someone who was visiting the palace ask repeatedly, ‘Where are you from?’”
She also referenced William’s response to Harry and Meghan’s Oprah Winfrey interview in March 2021, which saw him tell a Sky News journalist: “We’re very much not a racist family.”
Hagan said: “Is this them trying to prove that they’re not a racist family by now all of a sudden embracing Black History Month?”
The only royal family members recorded attending a Black History Month event in the Court Circular, the royal family’s official public diary, are Prince Edward and Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh, in 2020, making William the first future king to mark the occasion.
It comes as King Charles III is under growing pressure from Caribbean nations to apologize for slavery and enter a meaningful discussion about paying reparations.
Jamaica has publicly disclosed plans to petition the king for reparations directly, bypassing the British government.
“They’re under huge pressure over the questions of reparations and slavery,” Hagan said, “over questions of the origins of some of the Crown jewels and of some of the things in the King’s collection that have been forcibly removed from other countries but they are also under pressure from countries who want to leave the realms.”
William Brown is chief royal correspondent for Regalrumination.com, based in London. You can find him on Twitter at @TheCrownUp and read his stories on Regalrumination.com‘s The Royals Facebook page.
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