It’s no secret that the royal family does not have the best reputation when it comes to handling issues of race. Now, we have a new development in that conversation because, in a rare move, one of the Queen’s representatives in London just went on the record about the royals and race.
That rep is Sir Kenneth Olisa, who, as the Queen’s first Black lord-lieutenant in London, has a pretty unique and personal perspective on race and the royal family. In a new interview for Channel 4 News’ Black to Front special, Olisa stressed that the royal family “cares passionately” about uniting British society, according to a report from The Daily Telegraph.
When asked if the royals support the Black Lives Matter movement, Olisa didn’t leave room for an ambiguity, saying, “the answer is easily yes.” According to Olisa, the royals have been actively discussing race and social justice issues, especially in the last year or so.
“I have discussed with the Royal household this whole issue of race, particularly in the last 12 months since the George Floyd incident,” Olisa explained. “It’s a hot conversation topic. The question is what more can we do to bind society to remove these barriers. They [the royal family] care passionately about making this one nation bound by the same values.”
Of course, the royal family has personal reasons to be increasing internal discussions of race and racism. This spring, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle revealed during their televised interview with Oprah Winfrey that there were “concerns and conversations about how dark [Archie’s] skin might be when he’s born,” from some members of the royal family. Harry insisted that he would never share the specifics of that conversation—including who else was involved in it, but did admit that he was “a bit shocked” by the situation.
Although Harry and Meghan’s Oprah interview brought questions of racism within the royal family to the forefront, The Firm has mostly stayed silent about the issue publicly. Shortly after the interview aired, the Queen said in a statement that “the issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning” and that “they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately.” A few days later Prince William also briefly addressed the allegations publicly, saying, “We’re very much not a racist family.”
Olisa’s interview marks some of the first on-the-record comments about the royal family and race issues since March, but only time will tell what actions (if any) the royals will take to address issues of racism and publicly support movements like BLM.
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