Harry can choose to confront racism and dedicate his life to helping to dismantle it

Harry can choose to confront racism and dedicate his life to helping to dismantle it

By Carton Joseph

Prince Harry and Meghan Duchess of Sussex

Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Meghan and Harry on Sunday pulled in over 17 million viewers, well ahead of the number of persons who watched the

2020 Emmys and the Golden Globes. 

The interview revealed how difficult it is as a Black person to ” fit in ”

to the British Royal Family. It also revealed that racism is so often at the center of decision that the monarchy and privileged white persons make.  Importantly, it revealed an intimate love relationship between two people, from diverse backgrounds, and their relentless attempt to make things work under extremely difficult circumstances.

Meghan said that she felt abandoned by the Royal family and heartless courtiers in the palace, as they were hounded by racist tabloids and Internet trolls and that she had reached a breaking point and had suicidal thoughts, and couldn’t be left alone, for fear of what she might do to herself. She said she sought help from the palace, asking for professional mental health care, but she was rebuffed and told, essentially, to buck up and ride it out.

To ordinary folks, this might sound heartless, but these people from the palace  have put themselves above us, mere mortals, and believe that they cannot show weakness or succumb to mental distresss or physical pain. They are supposed to be beyond that, and as Harry said in the interview, no matter what personal problems you have, when duty calls you have to forget about your problem and “Bring your A game.”  We know they are mere mortals, but when you are supported by the System from cradle to grave, I guess you may come to believe that you are immortal.

Megan  recalled that the last time she saw her passport, driver’s license, and her keys was when she joined the Family. To an American, especially a celebrity, this represents a loss of freedom.  

I am certain that Prince Harry was shocked when conversations arose with his family about how dark the skin of his son might be when he was born. He had been to Africa many times and was probably taught to treat “his subjects”  in the Commonwealth with respect.  He obviously didn’t realize that marriage to a Black commoner was considered out of bounds.  I’m certain that he was devastated when he learned that he and his son would not would be provided with security. 

The world he took for granted was no longer available to him. The  “one drop” rule was transformed to the “black by marriage” rule. Now he and his family were no longer “Royals”.  The Prince saw his Black wife as an asset to the monarchy  and felt no doubt that his marriage  would show the world that the Monarchy had easily entered the 21st century.  Unfortunately, the racist “Institution”  or the “firm” and the British tabloids saw her as a liability. 

He envisioned that their  marriage and the specifics around her race, presented many opportunities for his family to show some public support, and to capitalize on the multiracial union as millions of Black people throughout Britain and the Commonwealth  finally saw themselves in the monarchy through Markle’s existence.  He saw his marrige as strengthening the monarchy but the  “Institution” was not willing to accept his biracial Black wife and their coloured child.

I was totally surprised when the couple described the Royals, as a family who was “trapped” in their roles and who “lived in fear” of Britain’s tabloid press.  The Prince said there was an “invisible contract” between the House of Windsor and the tabloids, whereby the royal family is willing to wine and dine the media to get better treatment.  He described this as “control by fear” by the tabloids. I know the press has  vast influence, but I never imagined that the monarchy was so scared of  the press using that influence against them.

The couple had only kind words to say about Queen Elizabeth II, but heaped derision on the palace.  Harry spoke of his own mental health and how his wife helped him to understand his own suffering, saying “I was trapped, but I didn’t know I was trapped.”  He explained: “he was trapped within the System, like the rest of my family are.  My father, my brother- they are trapped.”

We can now appreciate why King Edward XIII stepped down as king in 1936, after ruling for less than one year.   He was the first English monarch to voluntarily abdicate the throne, after the British government, the public and the Church of England condemned his decision to marry the American divorcée, Wallis Warfield Simpson. 

Prince Harry is now free from the constraints of the  “Institution,.” He now understands what it is to be Black and must now defend his Black family.  He can now choose to confront racism and dedicate his life to helping to dismantle it and in the process  add  a  chapter on  anti-racism to his family’s tainted history.

(Trinidad-born Carlton Joseph who lives in Washington DC, is a close observer of political developments in the United States.)