Yahoo! News | Prince Harry sparks backlash over two-year silence while royals were accused of racism
During an interview on Sunday night to promote his new memoir Spare, ITV presenter Tom Bradby started a question by saying: “In the Oprah interview you accused members of your family of racism”, only for Harry interrupt, saying “no I didn’t”, adding “the British press said that”.
Harry went on to say Meghan’s claims that an unnamed family member made “troubling” comments about the skin colour of his unborn son, Archie, related to “unconscious bias” not racism. He said he made this distinction based on “having lived within that family”.
“The difference between racism and unconscious bias”, Harry said, “the two things are different. But once it’s been acknowledged, or pointed out to you as an individual, or as an institution, that you have unconscious bias, you therefore have an opportunity to learn and grow from that in order so that you are part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Otherwise unconscious bias then moves into the category of racism.”
While Harry is certainly accurate about his description of the Oprah comments, he has faced criticism for staying silent while his family fended off allegations of racism.
Charges of hypocrisy have even been laid because Harry has been particularly critical of the Royal Family for refusing to issue public statements of support for him and his wife – such as when Meghan was accused in the British press of making Meghan cry – but has waited two years to do the same in this case.
Chris Ship, royal editor at ITV, acknowledged that while the couple did not use the word “racist” they “haven’t corrected the narrative since”.
Former BBC Royal Correspondent Jennie Bond told ITV’s Lorraine: “So much of what he said seemed conflicted and contradictory… he allowed his family to be hung out to dry on an accusation of racism which Harry says now he never said and wasn’t true. That in my view is almost unforgivable”.
It has also been pointed out that it wasn’t solely the press that called the comments racist. Anti-racism groups were also critical of the palace, with prominent equalities campaigner Patrick Vernon saying at the time: “We need to consider changing race equality legislation to ensure that the Royal Family and also private members’ clubs are brought in line with the rest of society so that the Equality and Human Rights Commission could investigate the allegations raised by Meghan and Harry.”
Others have pointed out that a US human rights charity gave Harry and Meghan its Ripple of Hope award for the couple’s activism on racial justice and mental health. Kerry Kennedy praised them for their ‘heroic’ stance against the “structural racism within the [royal] institution“.
Robert Jobson, royal editor at the Evening Standard, suggested if the couple should give their award back to the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights organisation.
“Robert F. Kennedy’s daughter said Prince Harry and Meghan were handed an award for their ‘heroic’ stance against the ‘structural racism’ of the Royal Family. Harry says neither he or Meg said the RF was racist. Perhaps they should give the award back then?”
Roya Nikkah, royal editor at the Sunday Times, suggested that despite it being a “strange u-turn”, it may have been an attempt from Harry towards brokering a peace with the rest of his family.
“Perhaps it’s to try and sort of, you know, soften things towards the Royal Family, but it’s a very strange u-turn to make”.
Author and lawyer Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu said she thought Harry was incorrect in the distinction he drew between unconscious bias and racism, but that he was correct in saying it was the personal responsibility of those involved to correct their biased assumptions once they have been highlighted.
“Prince Harry you’re WRONG. There’s ZERO difference between racist conscious/unconscious bias & racism. Bias is presence of racism & the actions/words are proof therein. You’re RIGHT that once pointed out it’s the person’s responsibility to rectify/grow from it”, she tweeted.
Originally posted on Yahoo! News