Meghan Markle engagement to Prince Harry exposes ‘quiet’ racism
Disparaging reactions to Prince Harry’s relationship with actress Meghan Markle have highlighted the racism and class snobbery that persist in British society.
The American will become the first person who identifies as biracial to join the upper echelons of the U.K.’s royal family when she marries Harry in May.
But some black women said coverage of the Los Angeles native’s roots by some media outlets is indicative of the underlying racism that they experience daily.
“I feel like racism in the U.K. is pretty insidious,” said Paula Akpan, a co-founder of Black Girl Festival which celebrates black British women. She added racism tended to be “not as openly acknowledged” as in the U.S.
Following the royal engagement, The Daily Mail publicized one of its stories with a tweet reading “from slaves to royalty, Meghan Markle’s upwardly mobile family.” Last year, the newspaper suggested that Markle was “(almost) straight outta Compton.”
Journalist Rachel Johnson, the sister of British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, last year wrote in The Mail on Sunday newspaper that Markle could help bring “rich and exotic DNA” to the royal family. She also described Markle’s mother as “a dreadlocked African-American lady from the wrong side of the tracks.”
The Spectator magazine this week questioned the “Suits” star’s suitability for Prince Harry because she is divorced and attended a Catholic school.
“Obviously, 70 years ago, Meghan Markle would have been the kind of woman the prince would have had for a mistress, not a wife,” a comment piece read.
Harry last year took the highly unusual step of asking the media to stop the “wave of abuse and harassment” against Markle.
The prince cited a “smear” on the front page of a national newspaper, “racial undertones” of newspaper opinion pieces, and “outright sexism and racism of social media trolls.”