Royal fail

The dis­grace­ful white­wash­ing of Meghan Markle

Sunday Herald - - 29.10.17 NEWS - Yvonne Ri­d­ley

In­stead of em­pow­er­ing the black com­mu­nity it seems the palace spin doc­tors are un­der or­ders to pre­serve what is left of Lit­tle Eng­land

THE world’s me­dia is get­ting into a frenzy over spec­u­la­tion that Prince Harry will soon an­nounce his en­gage­ment to Amer­i­can ac­tress Meghan Markle and now some of the Lon­don news­pa­pers have even be­gun the process of white­wash­ing her gene pool.

To­tally miss­ing the point of what this par­tic­u­lar mixed mar­riage would bring, the laun­der­ing of Markle bears all the hall­marks of the palace spin doc­tors and, as a for­mer royal correspondent, I can eas­ily recog­nise the signs.

In­stead of cel­e­brat­ing her eth­nic back­ground the white colo­nial­ists from Buck­ing­ham Palace, Clarence House and Kens­ing­ton Palace are work­ing round the clock to bleach Markle’s past.

To pre­pare the servile sub­jects who give their un­con­di­tional sup­port to the British royal fam­ily the sub­lim­i­nal mes­sage about the un­doubt­edly gor­geous Meghan Markle is that she might be part black but she’s re­ally a white girl. How sad that the main link be­tween blacks and Buck­ing­ham Palace con­tin­ues only to be one of colo­nial sig­nif­i­cance.

One of the Lon­don-based news­pa­pers has even drawn her fam­ily tree and spat­tered the ge­nealog­i­cal chart with British flags to play down her black mother and cel­e­brate the fact that Markle’s great-great-granny was white and from York­shire. God Save the Queen!

Surely we should be cel­e­brat­ing the fact Markle is a tal­ented, in­tel­li­gent young woman who hap­pens to be black and beau­ti­ful. Why can’t the palace of­fi­cials be brief­ing the me­dia by say­ing: “Wow, this is great news. Bri­tain’s next gen­er­a­tion of roy­als will be mixed race”?

In­stead, the royal spin doc­tors are pour­ing whitener into her gene pool. Surely Team Wind­sor should em­brace the pos­i­tives just as Amer­ica did when it demo­crat­i­cally elected its first-ever black pres­i­dent in Barack Obama. There were cheers and boasts in the BME com­mu­nity – noone tried to get out the bleach for Barack. The black com­mu­nity felt em­pow­ered; this was one hell of a leap from the path of the vile days of the slave trade to the keys to the White House.

The prob­lem we have in Bri­tain is deep-rooted. The royal firm is too stuck in its ways, too pa­tri­ar­chal and so out of date. The old guard just can­not see a pos­i­tive and so for the next few weeks and pos­si­bly months we are all go­ing to be con­di­tioned in prepa­ra­tion for Prince Harry’s nup­tials.

So what if the Wind­sor gene pool is be­ing in­fil­trated with a new, vi­brant and colour­ful DNA? It’s hardly go­ing to bring about a down­fall of the monar­chy or de­stroy the so­cial hi­er­ar­chy in the British up­per classes ... more’s the pity.

In­stead of em­pow­er­ing the black com­mu­nity it seems the palace spin doc­tors are un­der or­ders to pre­serve what is left of Lit­tle Eng­land and all that it rep­re­sents in­clud­ing an all­white royal lin­eage.

And if you don’t be­lieve me, it has al­ready started with Satur­day night’s Chan­nel 4 doc­u­men­tary, When Harry Met Meghan: A Royal Ro­mance. The pro­gramme mak­ers have ac­tu­ally traced her great-great-grand­mother, Martha Sykes, back to Eng­land.

His­to­rian Andy Ulicny tells view­ers Martha was born in York­shire and left with her par­ents, Thomas and Mary, to set­tle in the US when she was one. Nat­u­rally this tit­il­lat­ing news has been pored over and pro­jected with de­light by Lon­don-based news­pa­pers like the Daily Tele­graph and Daily Mail.

“Most likely the Sykes fam­ily came from York­shire, a coal-min­ing re­gion, and the name Sykes was pop­u­lar up that way,” says Ulicny. So it turns out work­ing-class Martha is a di­rect an­ces­tor of Markle’s fa­ther Thomas, a light­ing di­rec­tor.

If you want proof a copy of the 1870 cen­sus from the Ma­hanoy Town­ship in Schuylkill County, in the foothills of the Ap­palachian moun­tains, shows the fam­ily liv­ing with three­year-old Martha in the min­ing area of Penn­syl­va­nia. The fam­ily upped sticks and quit Eng­land in 1869 in search of a bet­ter life.

Ap­par­ently, Markle has al­ready supped af­ter­noon tea with Prince Harry and the Queen which has only served to fuel spec­u­la­tion of a royal wed­ding in 2018. Trust me, there is noth­ing co­in­ci­den­tal about any of this. Team Wind­sor does ev­ery­thing with mil­i­tary-style pre­ci­sion and is pre­par­ing its sub­jects for a royal wed­ding with a dif­fer­ence.

How­ever, and not for the first time, I be­lieve the roy­als have mis­judged the pub­lic mood. White­wash­ing Markle’s fam­ily back­ground with the help of what’s left of Fleet Street and state TV will back­fire among black and eth­nic mi­nor­ity com­mu­ni­ties. This will turn into a clanger of Dove Soap-style pro­por­tions.

The Queen is head of the Com­mon­wealth made up of 52 coun­tries largely span­ning the BME coun­tries in Africa, Asia and the Pa­cific so what will her 2.3 bil­lion sub­jects, al­most one-third of the world’s pop­u­la­tion, make of this at­tempt to air­brush Markle’s black roots from the royal love story? Or do their views not count?

Prince Harry, him­self, has de­scribed Africa as his “spir­i­tual home” and was a prime mover be­hind the Kens­ing­ton Palace state­ment back in 2016 con­demn­ing the British press for their “out­right sex­ism and racism” over cov­er­age of his re­la­tion­ship with Markle. It was, at the time, most re­fresh­ing to hear the royal fam­ily pub­licly de­fend a mixed-race union but now the sub­lim­i­nal me­dia brief­ings ap­pear to be quite dif­fer­ent.

Brace your­self for more pro­pa­ganda ... like the le­gal drama se­ries Suits in which Markle’s char­ac­ter is Rachel Zane, this white­wash drama is set to run and run. Yvonne Ri­d­ley is a jour­nal­ist, au­thor and for­mer royal correspondent

At­tempts to white­wash Meghan Markle’s back­ground ahead of an ex­pected wed­ding to Prince Harry could back­fire as badly as the re­cent TV ad­vert for Dove Pho­to­graph: Getty

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