'This Process Is Painful': Speaking With Black Leaders, Meghan and Harry Reference the 'Uncomfortable' History of the British Commonwealth

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, visit Tembisa township on October 2, 2019, in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, visit Tembisa township on October 2, 2019, in Johannesburg, South Africa.

We can hear the trolls pulling up to their keyboards as we type... In May 2018, Meghan Markle walked down the aisle to marry Prince Harry of England famously wearing a veil embroidered with every territory of the British Commonwealth, the 54 member states formerly ruled by the British Empire. But in a recent Queen’s Commonwealth Trust video call, the couple seemed to acknowledge the racism the British Empire was founded upon, as it’s no secret the Commonwealth was largely formed through colonization and racial oppression.

Advertisement

“When you look across the Commonwealth, there is no way that we can move forward unless we acknowledge the past,” said Harry—a direct beneficiary of that lineage and its resulting wealth until earlier this year, when he and Meghan divested from the royal coffers.

As reported Monday by British media outlet The Sun (which, last time we checked, was among several tabloids the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have cut ties with), the call was part of an ongoing weekly conversation the couple, now based in Los Angeles, has been having to engage with the Black Lives Matter movement. Joining them were young Black leaders Chrisann Jarrett, co-founder of UK immigrant organization We Belong, Alicia Wallace, director of Equality Bahamas, Mike Omoniyi, founder of The Common Sense Network, and Abdullahi Alim, leader of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers.

“We have to, in this moment in time say: ‘We’re gonna have to be a little uncomfortable right now,’” said Meghan. “Because it’s only in pushing through that discomfort that we get to the other side of this...Equality does not put anyone on the back foot; it puts us all on the same footing, which is a fundamental human right, and that’s what we’re talking about here.

Advertisement

“The world is craving a healing,” she continued. “Everything that’s happened over these several months—and if we really look back at history, longer than that...this process is painful, and it has been for a long time.”

Of course, the Sun couldn’t help but subtly point out that the Sussexes were having a conversation about equality while residing at Tyler Perry’s $18 million Beverly Hills mansion—and of course, at least one of the couple’s detractors had to note that the conversation was profoundly un-royal behavior (which might be why they left their roles as senior royals—just a thought).

Speaking to the Mail Online (which is currently defending itself in a lawsuit brought by Meghan), British politician Andrew Rosindell said: “I’m surprised that [Harry] would be making comments like that...As someone who has stepped out of the Royal Family, he should focus on his own life and not get involved in politics.

“That is not the appropriate thing to do,” Rosindell added. “I’m not sure his grandmother would be too pleased either.”

Advertisement

Though still the president and vice president of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, it’s pretty safe to say that the Sussexes are focusing on their own life; one far away from Buckingham Palace. And Rosindell can mind his own family, since Newsweek reports the couple received clearance from the palace to openly discuss race on the call.

Advertisement

“The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust is a separate entity, which is about giving opportunities to young people within the Commonwealth,” a royal source told Newsweek, adding that it’d be more unlikely Queen Elizabeth II to publicly speak in support of Black Lives Matter or her colonial heritage.“The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust was set up by Her Majesty as part of the relevance of giving young people an opportunity,” the source continued. “Part of the work it’s doing is looking at the history of the commonwealth. It’s what they’re there for and it’s important for young people to look into it.”

Additionally, royal watchers should expect more moments like these as the power couple cements their independence; each has spoken in support of the Black Lives Matter movement in recent weeks. This past weekend, they formally dissolved their “Sussex Royal” brand identity (h/t Elle) and have been looking to make their next moves through the formation of their yet to be launched foundation, Archewell. Numerous reports speculate that racial justice will be one of the foundation’s focuses.

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up, an avid eyeshadow enthusiast and always her own muse. Minneapolis born, Chicago bred, New York built. Nuance is her superpower.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

hyperbolic-idiot-chamber
Hyperbolic Idiot Chamber

the couple seemed to acknowledge the racism the British Empire was founded upon, as it’s no secret the Commonwealth was largely formed through colonization and racial oppression.

English history is literally the history of colonialism. Whether it’s the Anglos, Saxons, and Jutes invading and genocideing the Romano-British. their slow colonization of Ireland, The Americas, Africa, Asia or Oceania. The brits have colonized and committed genocide on every continent but Antarctica and the only reason they didn’t commit one there was because there were no natives to kill. That it’s taken this long to get any acknowledgement from the royals or any part of the British government is pretty sad. But good on Harry and Meghan for speaking out on it.