There was outrage among many Black Britons at the treatment of Diana, Princess of Wales, by the royal family. Many identified with Diana. Like them, she seemed to have been marginalised and othered by a very British institution. When she died, large numbers, many of them middle-aged Black women, made their way to Buckingham Palace to leave flowers and mourn, angered that the family had not properly marked the tragedy with appropriate ceremony. The Queen and others were judged to have stayed too long at Balmoral – and not come back to the palace to mourn. Yet the blame was on Charles, and the rest of the royal collective. The Queen escaped censure from Black Britons who were supporters of the monarchy and those with roots to the Commonwealth.
Look forward years later to the sad departure from the royal mothership of Meghan Markle. That was a body blow for Black monarchists, and even for many uninterested people. Meghan’s marriage to Harry, that multicultural wedding with the songs and hymns so many Black Britons recognised, was embraced as a landmark. The nation’s foremost institution recognising the social and realities of modern Britain. And when it all went wrong, with accusations of othering and racism, there was disappointment and anger aplenty – but again, the Queen was seen to be above it all. Why? Because she had her own special contract, particularly with the older Windrush generation, who retained a degree of deference towards her.
The only time I recall dissatisfaction with her related to the New Cross fire in 1981. The families and the wider community expected some commiseration from her about their loss, especially as she had reached too those who had been affected by a fatal fire in Dublin. She never did. There was a fragility about the regard in which she was held at that moment.