An express rule of Buckingham Palace, imposed at least until the late 1960s, prohibited the hiring of “immigrants of color or foreigners” for administrative positions, according to historical documentation released exclusively by the newspaper. The Guardian. The shadow of racism in the British royal house, shaken by the recent accusations of the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, in her interview with the American presenter, Oprah Winfrey, caused a serious institutional crisis a few months ago that Elizabeth II’s environment tried appease with vague promises to investigate what happened. The new revelations – timidly – reopen a debate that the UK society closed in the wrong way.
The newspaper has been investigating the national archives for months, looking for cases in which Buckingham has abused the so-called Royal Consent (Royal Consent). It is a parliamentary use of remote origin and consolidated in time by which the monarch has the capacity to allow or not to debate laws that may affect his prerogatives or personal and economic interests. For example, to protect the secrecy or taxation of the queen’s shareholdings in numerous companies. But not only for that. According to what was published by the British newspaper, in 1968, the British monarchy made use of this prerogative when the Labor Government of Harold Wilson wanted to promote new legislation that would sanction any employment or contractual discrimination on racial or ethnic grounds. By then, this type of practice was already illegal in the Administration, and the intention was to extend the prohibition to private companies or to the rental of housing.
The then Minister of the Interior, James Callaghan, who would occupy the post of prime minister a decade later, assumed that he should not initiate the parliamentary process of the new measures until advisers to the royal house were convinced that they would not be used against him. Isabel II. And they were not convinced at first. According to one of them in the documents made now public, the then financial director of the queen, Charles Tryon, informed the high officials who negotiated the text that “it was not, in fact, common practice to name immigrants of color or foreigners” for administrative positions within the royal house, although they were allowed to perform tasks of domestic service.
The statement comes from the minutes of the meeting drawn up by TG Weiler, one of the representatives of the Ministry of the Interior who participated in the negotiations. In the account that is collected in them, Weiler assures that Lord Tryon was willing to give in if the new law contemplated exemptions for the royal house similar to those that already existed then for the British diplomatic service, where it was forbidden, for example, to hire to people who have lived in the UK for less than five years.
“Accusations based on second-hand recollection of conversations that occurred 50 years ago should not be used to infer conclusions about current procedures,” Buckingham Palace has responded. “The royal house and the queen comply with the rules of the Equality Law, both in its principles and in practice. This is reflected in the diversity, inclusion and dignity of its labor policy. Any possible complaint leads to a formal process that facilitates the possibility of being treated and remedied ”.
A national upheaval
Buckingham Palace does not enter to confirm or deny what its regulations were at the end of the 1960s, or when it revoked such practices. It also admits that the Equality Law considered the exceptionality of the royal house, although it ensures that the institution has its own procedures to deal with possible complaints, without detailing them. But above all he wants to remove any suspicion that questionable attitudes from the past may survive today.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex – Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle – caused a restrained national commotion for a week by denouncing, in their famous interview, that a member of the royal family had come to express concern about skin color of the baby that the American actress was expecting then. Markle is the daughter of a mixed marriage. The couple pointed to racism as a fundamental factor in their decision to resign from their official duties and move to the United States. At an especially sensitive moment, in which the manifestations of the Black Lives Matter movement They were Highly relevant in the UK, Buckingham Palace was immersed in a national debate over its supposedly racist past and present.
“My family is not racist by any means,” Prince William, second in line to the throne, assured the cameras during a public ceremony. In this way he expressed his irritation at accusations that he considered personally unjust, but which some historians felt deserved to be reviewed in an honest and open way. Even the Labor Party influenced the matter to demand that transparency, although this time it has decided, together with the other great party, the Conservative, to draw a thick veil and not stir the waters any more. The recent death of Prince Philip of Edinburgh, husband of Elizabeth II, and the announcement of the preparations, for 2022, of the Platinum Jubilee ―70 years of reign―, with four days of national holidays, have convinced the two main parties of the need to bring calm and stability to the institution.