The implication was clear: that there was a concern at the heart of the monarchy about how a baby who might appear different from the rest of the family because of his biracial mother would fit in.

The fallout was enormous. But reactions were widely divided between those who saw it as a sign of institutional racism in the monarchy and those who thought the couple had made it all up. After all, there was no hard evidence to support this claim.

This time there are papers.

Britain’s Guardian newspaper this week unearthed documents, buried in the UK’s National Archives, which revealed that the Queen’s courtiers had banned immigrants and ethnic minorities from holding office positions at the palace from Buckingham until at least the late 1960s.

According to the report, the Queen’s chief financial officer told officials in 1968 that “in fact it was not customary to appoint immigrants of color or foreigners” to office positions, but they were allowed to be hired as servants.

The palace did not say when the policy ended, only telling CNN in a statement that “claims based on an account of conversations from over 50 years ago should not be used to infer or infer conclusions on modern events or operations “.

The inquest also found that decades ago the palace used a parliamentary procedure known as ‘Queen’s Consent’ to obtain exemption from UK law aimed at preventing discrimination in the workplace. – including the hiring of people on the basis of their ethnic origin. The Queen is still exempt from these laws today, the Guardian reported.

“The Royal Household and the Sovereign comply with the provisions of the Equality Act in principle and in practice,” the palace told CNN in its statement. “This is reflected in the policies, procedures and practices of diversity, inclusion and dignity in the workplace within The Royal Household.”

What is missing from these statements are an apology for past racist policies, or a glimpse of the steps the royal family plans to take to right these wrongs.

This silence of the inner circle of the queen will not surprise anyone who knows the behavior of the palace. Queen Elizabeth is a very traditional monarch who rarely makes public statements. She is part of a generation who believed that being silent on almost all matters was the best way to preserve the dignity of the crown.

This strategy has served the monarch extensively during her 69-year tenure on the throne, although its success is in part due to the fact that the Queen enjoys enormous popularity with the British public, many of whom accept that she is a woman from a different generation. and don’t expect it to change.

But the palace’s reaction will be disappointing in the face of the growing chorus of people calling for change, at a time of racial reckoning in the UK and around the world. And for younger generations of royals, the Queen’s decades of silence could make life more difficult for them when the time comes to hand over the crown.

Some of the young royals have spent more than a decade as public figures speaking out on issues such as mental health, climate change and equality. This was widely supported by young British citizens who did not grow up in the same deferential culture as their parents and grandparents.

Now it will be more difficult for young royals to reconcile their enlightened public image with the failure, for now, to condemn their family’s institutionally racist hiring policies in the past. It will be particularly difficult for Prince William, second in line, who has said publicly in response to Harry and Meghan’s allegations of racism that the royals are “not really a racist family”.

All of this is important because of the unwritten contract that exists between the monarchy and its subjects.

The royal family can only be guaranteed of its existence if the public supports it. In the interview with Oprah Winfrey, Harry revealed how his family members are “afraid” “that the tabloids will turn on them.” While the prince may have overestimated the influence newspapers have on the public, his take on the importance of public relations to his family is correct.

Members of the royal family greet the public from the balcony of Buckingham Palace

The point when all of this becomes dangerous for the royal family is when the public demands greater transparency and accountability, but the palace persists in it.

“That’s why public opinion plays such a big role,” said Catherine Haddon, constitutional scholar at the Institute for Government think tank. “With a growing loss of deference in society and increasing pressure for greater transparency, it is difficult for the monarchy to stick to the old ways of doing things.”

Contrary to the claims of racism and neglect made by Harry and Meghan, these employment practices are provable. They don’t present the current monarch in a favorable light, and it’s also worth noting that these policies existed during the lifetime of the first in line to the throne, Prince Charles, who is said to be a more modern royal than his mother.

Worse for the monarchy, there’s a chance it could give those on the fence about the contemporary Sussexes’ claim a pause for thought: if the current royals could turn a blind eye once on racist policies, is it really unlikely that they will racist comments about a baby’s skin color?

Kehinde Andrews, professor of black studies at Birmingham City University, is not optimistic that history will seriously change public thinking around the monarchy.

“These debates are not about rational thought or evidence. People will likely place it in the context of its history and its time,” Andrews told CNN. “The Royal Family have a terrible track record when it comes to race, but no incident has drastically changed the way of thinking before, so why would they do it now?”

Andrews’ analysis will likely be accurate in the short term: The British are very unlikely to turn on their queen anytime soon. But the combination of hard evidence of racism at the heart of the monarchy and a younger generation who find such inexcusable behavior will make the monarch’s silent leadership style impossible for her descendants who will one day sit on her throne.



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