If you don’t know, I was born and partially raised in England. Before you even think of asking. No, I don’t have an accent and yes, there are black people in England. And if you still don’t believe check my birth certificate and my passport that I use every few years when I go back to visit my English family! Boom! Anyways. I have recently heard for months now that black folks (particularly women) are too fussed about this upcoming royal wedding. In addition, I have noticed a lot of negative comments regarding Meghan and her quest to climb the social ladder and some calling her an ‘opportunist.’ In all honesty, maybe black women are not seeing past the fairy tale and perhaps Meghan sought out Harry purposely. But both points annoy me as I find that most folks that are talking do not have any idea of what the Royal family encompasses and think of them more of celebrities than part of a thousand year monarchy. Hopefully I will be able to shed some light and convey 1). why this royal wedding is a big deal, 2). why it’s OK for not only brown girls (black, biracial and all) to feel excited about this union, 3). perhaps the real opportunist is not Meghan, but Harry. Let’s go.
My “English” history and background
In July of 1983 I was born at Heathrow hospital (now called Ipswich Hospital) in a town called Ipswich. My grandmother tells me that it was the hottest day in England as she walked up to the hospital from her home to see my birth and meet me. By this time, Prince Charles and Diana had been married almost two years and Prince William was a year old when I was born. While I was in Ipswich at my grandmother’s home meeting the world and my family all at least appeared well with those three at the palace. Charles and Diana were newlyweds and the next heir to the throne was born what all seemed like a perfect harmony. Back at home, I was being introduced to the family which consisted of my Bajan born grandparents who came to the U.K. for a better life and their English Afro-Caribbean children – my aunts and uncles.
My grandparents were part of the “first wave” of immigration that came to the the U.K. in the 40’s & 50’s. They were born and raised in Barbados and they had five children there and three more who were Bajan born that came over once my grandparents became settled in this new country. I guess it is assumed (and I did too) that race relations were pretty decent in the U.K. as the country never implemented laws to officially discriminate or segregate based on race and ethnicity nor were citizens banned from voting. Perhaps this is why I naively oblivious to racism being present in my everyday life in the U.K. However, what was different was me being born to two black parents wasn’t common on my mother’s side of the family. Most of my uncles were in interracial relationships and most of my cousins were biracial and this is how I viewed the people of England.
As a result, I looked at the U.K. as a racially fluid place as most of the other kids I would see downtown at the shops also looked like my cousins. Due to my upbringing, the face of U.K. was not that of Queen Elizabeth or even Prince Charles. The features of Rachel Meghan Markle was something I was very familiar with as some of my cousins favor her. I would say that this was also maybe why it felt there was a huge disconnect between the streets of the England and the image portrayed by the royal family. I think this is why a lot of folks have a hard time associating me to having an English background because the average American has the royal family ingrained in their minds as the face of the U.K. Also, most English folks I knew were not sweating the monarchy and felt it was absolutely useless to have for the country..that was until a Lady named Diana came along.
Here comes Diana
Honestly, my fondest memory of Diana was when she visited Thorpe Park with Prince Harry and William because it encompasses at the end of day who and what she was – a doting mother who loved her kids dearly. You see, royal children were not allowed to do this prior to Harry and William. Typically royal children such as the Queen and Prince Charles were put in boarding schools and did not do the things that were common for you and I like going to a park. Diana was really the first royal to publicly raise her children as if they were like any other kids that did not come from royalty.
I wouldn’t say that my family in particular felt any closer to the Royal family through Diana but I think it was easy to feel compassion and empathy towards her as it later became evident that she was used by a man that never loved her. `It was also easier to see her in a higher regard than the rest of the monarchy as she seemed to have a great compassion for those who were less privileged and sick. We had never seen a royal touch the hands of patients in the hospital or as scary as the AIDS epidemic was in the 90s it was taboo to even touch someone suffering from it. Diana did all of this and kind of flipped the media attention that was on her to garner world wide attention on some great causes.
I will never forget the day I learned Diana had passed as I had recently moved back to the states and was up late with my parents when the news flashed on the screen that she was involved in a terrible car accident. We waited hours that morning to see if she would pull through and heard the announcement that she had passed. Even though I wasn’t in England the world stopped for me. This was a woman I had grown accustomed to seeing while I grew up in England and it had finally seemed like she had found some happiness in her last year. If anything, some folks resented the royal family even more for their treatment to Diana while alive for never helping her find happiness. There are stories that even on her wedding day as she walked into Westminster Abbey that when we see her look left and right in the church it was actually to see if her husband’s girlfriend was in attendance.
Above everything, I will never forget the faces of William and Harry as they were forced to walk behind their mother’s casket on the streets of London and holdtheir composure. I wondered what would happen to them after the fact as their mother made sure her damnedest that they were loved and provided them normalcy. I was afraid that day that they would become true “stiff” royals after the loss of their mother but luckily that did not happen.
Folks and their selective memory
I got married on April 2nd of 2011. I had picked that date out a year and half in advance but it became overshadowed very quickly once William made the announcement that he would be marrying Catherine on April 29th. For the average American I was not sure they cared or at least I originally thought. But royal mania was in effect. For instance, I remember I was running errands with my aunt who came from England to see me get married and while we were getting stuff for my wedding folks would ask my aunt if she was excited for the royal wedding. Not even my wedding?!?!
I remember the coverage being 24/7 up until the wedding. Replica’s of Diana’s ring (that was given to Catherine) being sold on infomercials and coverage of how William was breaking tradition by marrying a commoner. So I find it very interesting that dichotomy between that wedding and Harry’s now. I hear those that say “I don’t get the big deal” or “I don’t remember hearing about a royal wedding this much ever before” or my favorite “why are people making a big deal about her race?” SMH. I mean let’s just be honest. Yes, it’s a big deal that a man from the English monarchy is marrying a bi-racial, older women who is a divorcee from America. It is a big deal and it is all because of Diana.
The royal family was pretty savage (and probably still are) as they laid down strict rules as to who they could and could not marry. This happened a few times in history in which you can view here. I think it means that all the hardships Diana went through were not in vain and her tragic ending granted her boys to have the freedom they never would have experienced if the royal family was able to keep up the lie . Because Charles put Diana through so much agony s he was not allowed to marry the real woman he loved it now means that her sons can marry who they want and desire.
Maybe Harry is the true opportunist
The second official appearance he made with Meghan after announcing their engagement was stopping by a Brixton radio station Reprezent to talk with the youth that worked there. You may have never heard of Brixton but it is often painted as “scary,” “gangster” or even if you do a google search you will see the words “rough” or even “hood.” Want me to give you one guess as to how it got that reputation…I’ll wait. Brixon is located in South London and is one of the most diverse neighborhoods. Ok, real talk it is multi-cultural…aka this is where you will see a plethora of beautiful black people. Now, I don’t ever remember the royals visiting Brixton before and found Harry going there very interesting.
I was definitely a little naive to believe that racism wasn’t present at all in the U.K. just because my family had managed to blur the color lines. It didn’t take long after Harry and Meghan to see the racist and sexist overtones in the British newspapers/tabloids and etc all in regards to her background. Harry actually did something unprecedented and put out a statement regarding their relationship. He confirmed he was dating Meghan and also told the media to back and let them live (basically lol). I think as much as Harry may love this girl solely for who she is, her background cannot also be denied and rather should be publicly embraced as it creates opportunities to start conversations and make change…and it appears he is doing so.
Another of example of Harry possibly being up to thangs was on the day his nephew arrived in the world. On April 23rd, while the world was welcoming the birth of Prince William’s third child, Prince Louis, Harry and Meghan attended a service to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence. The irony of his nephew being born into the world and when he is asked by the media at this service if he is excited to welcome this new life and he declines to comment while walking to a service to remember a black life that was cut short due to racism. Baby, let me tell you if you aren’t putting the two and two together. That was the ultimate statement of black lives do matter or maybe the woman he fell in love with opened his eyes of how valuable black lives are.
The Royal Family will finally represent the people of England
After 1000 years of a monarchy, there will finally be someone in the royal family that looks like the great people of the United Kingdom. I think Harry realizes he can do more change with a woman like Meghan and be invited to deep conversations that he never would have been invited to have a seat at the table to if he hadn’t married a woman with black ancestry. I have heard Prince Harry mention in many interviews the change he is interested in making in this world by using his name for good. If he has figured out that the benefit of being a “spare” gives him a freedom to champion causes that he would not be able to being the next in line to become king. If he was truly intentional in marrying Meghan who is a self proclaimed feminist, then I am very excited as to what this union can bring for the future of the United Kingdom as it means that he is a feminist too. It means that he didn’t want some cute woman on his shoulder that would bring nothing to the table to stimulate his intellect or help bring the change in the world that he wants to see. I think they can really bring attention to issues that still affect the country today – such as mental health, continuing to provide healthcare for the immigrants who thought they were citizens and denouncing their deportation, the welfare of veteran’s, and race affairs.
Instead, I say let’s embrace that he is marrying a woman who saw a purpose for her life and did not settle with it just because she was a woman and her clock was ticking. For those that are stuck on her race, then how about recognize the strong shoulders of the women in her ancestry line in which she relies on today. She appears to be an intelligent woman who wants to use her celebrity for good and knows how to use her celebrity. Prince Harry could have married any woman in the world. He sought out the love of a very strong woman named Meghan and I can’t wait to see wht the future hold for these two. Point. Blank. Period.
Cheers to the happy couple!
- “Racism in the United Kingdom.” Wikipedia. Wikipedia.org, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racism_in_the_United_Kingdom. Accessed May 2018.
- “Afro-Caribbean.” Wikipedia. Wikipedia.org, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afro-Caribbean. Accessed May 2018.
- ‘Black Britons The next generation’.The Economist. 28 January 2016.
- Youtube. 2014, June 14. Camilla Parker Bowles Tortured Princess Diana at Her Own Wedding with Prince Charles. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/jHDiOP8GyJM
- Betts, Hannah. ‘Could Prince Harry ever marry divorcee Meghan Markle? There are royal precedents…’Web. 31 October 2016. <https://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/life/could-prince-harry-ever-marry-divorce-meghan-markle-there-are-ro/>.
- “Murder of Stephen Lawrence.” Wikipedia. Wikipedia.org, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Stephen_Lawrence. Accessed May 2018.
- Whittaker, Francis.’Britain’s Windrush generation threatened with deportation’. 24 April 2018. <https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/britain-s-windrush-generation-threatened-deportation-n867731>
Get more stuff like this
Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.
Thank you for subscribing.
Something went wrong.