The Brexit vote highlighted one metric of sharp polarisation in the UK, but there are many others like race and ethnicity and political extremes which tear the nation in different directions. The institution of the royal family is supposed to mitigate these divisions, embodying a national story which all identities connect with and in which they’re all valued equally. Because Meghan Markle is biracial, her marriage to Prince Harry was heralded as bringing the monarchy into line with changes in the wider society. From African ululations to a black American Bishop’s sermon, the ceremony paid rich tribute to her multicultural inheritance of colour. But less than three years later, that fairy tale has gone definitively dark.
In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, also the world’s first black female billionaire, Meghan has talked about being faced with deep-rooted racism from the start, including “concerns and conversations” about how dark her child’s skin might turn out to be. As many global eyeballs as these revelations have grabbed, there are plenty of people who’re not at all surprised, given how “the firm” is neck deep in hierarchy and heredity.
Shows like The Crown have already made its dystopian underbelly hot gossip internationally, and the blockbuster Meghan interview will lend further traction to this chatter. Of course it is possible that far from impoverishing Brand Windsor, all this will add to their tourism cache and further Britain’s soft power. But surely the monarchy would’ve been made stronger by assimilating Meghan with greater empathy and support. The world has progressed in the 69 years Queen Elizabeth has been on the throne. It’s great when brides no longer accept being “50% less” and grooms stand by them.
This piece appeared as an editorial opinion in the print edition of The Times of India.
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