In Oprah Winfrey’s highly anticipated interview with Harry and Meghan, Duke and Duchess of Sussex, the couple detailed their unfavorable treatment by the British monarchy and the tabloid press. That experience ultimately influenced his decision to resign from the official duties of the British royal family. The responses via live tweets from people of color around the world were, of course, hilarious and worthy of meme, but also intense and nuanced. They revealed layered reflections on race, the power and the enduring legacy of colonialism.
Many dismissed the entire interview as a “rich man’s business” and claimed not to be invested. For them, the plight of Meghan and Harry seemed like a luxury. Others praised Meghan’s royal marriage as an American celebrity fairy tale, one certainly enhanced by her biracial identity and simultaneous proximity to whiteness, while also acknowledging that fairy tale as the source of disdain from supporters of the crown. To her. Meanwhile, viewers like me from the former British colonies were quite familiar with the systemic passive aggression of the British monarchy. As former subjects of the crown, we know full well the damage they have done.
The rejection of Meghan by the royal establishment and its public supporters has its roots in the looting of resources and the psychological conditioning of people in the global south. It is the last in the history of the British empire of denial, gas lighting and control spread over foreign lands for centuries. Meghan’s interactions with the institution are reminiscent of the disenfranchisement of British citizens from the Caribbean, West Africa and South Asia who moved to England after World War II only to find cold air and closed doors. The colorism of questioning the potential darkness of his son Archie’s skin is the legacy of racism that flourished during the slave trade and plantation slavery, twin bounties reaped by the British Empire. Furthermore, the involvement of people from these same former colonies in attacking Meghan and Harry, often with racist and sexist overtones, in an attempt to defend Buckingham Palace is proof of the dissonance created under the so-called civilizing mission of colonialism.
If Meghan and Archie had been hugged and given the necessary titles and security, we may never have noticed the couple, at some point in the succession. Had Meghan been accepted, what we would have instead would be a bleached multicultural narrative of racial progress, complete with a reformed and philanthropic Harry who, lest we forget, had his youthful flirtation with Nazi outfits. Despite its profuse apology and growth since then, that incident introduced us to the long arm of xenophobia in the spaces it occupies.
Meghan’s regret seems to lie not only in her exclusion, but also in her forgetting the “rules of the game.” That Queen Elizabeth was kind to her, even as the establishment aggressively limited her freedom, reminds us that for oppressed blacks who have survived colonialism in the Commonwealth (a term Meghan repeats almost fondly), sentiment is not commonplace. . There is no goodness in the project of custom, there is no room for common humanity.
Who are we, then, to imagine a royal family devoid of this clinical bias? We learn over and over in history that monarchy cannot adapt to personality; there is no identity outside of conquest. None of us, the alleged conquered and their descendants, have value to the occupants of the palace, except as regards the jewel in the crown. To Harry’s marginal credit, he understood this custom. Even Harry’s claim that he and other family members were trapped within this tradition revealed how the crown has institutionalized the posture of suffering as penance for their plunder. The couple’s departure for the benefit of Meghan’s safety, survival and sanity was an acknowledgment that such reform is impossible.
But for many of us around the world, some still colonized, the insidious work of empire lives on in draconian educational systems, artifacts stored in British museums, poverty in communities, the denial of our ability to profit financially. from our own resources. , and the reparations that we demand but that the crown has always met with silence.
Schuyler Esprit is from the island of Dominica and is a writer and educator. She is a student of Caribbean literary and cultural studies and postcolonial theory. She is also the founder of the nonprofit digital humanities organization Create Caribbean Research Institute. She currently works at the Open Campus of the University of the West Indies as a researcher.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism