When Uju Anya said, “I heard the chief monarch of a thieving, raping genocidal empire is finally dying. May her pain be excruciating” at the time of Queen Elizabeth’s death in September, many people, including Africans, rained abuses on her. But recent events have once again shown that racism is in the DNA of the firm called the British crown.
Ngozi Fulani, a British-born Black charity CEO, faced a disgusting onslaught of questions from Lady Susan Hussey, one of the monarchy’s most highly placed household members. Hussey kept badgering her, asking, “where do you really come from”, “where do your people come from”, “no, what part of Africa are you from” and “when did you first come here”, even after Ngozi had clarified that she was British.
As a damage control mechanism, Hussey, who was the closest to a friend that Queen Elizabeth ever had, and the godmother of Prince William, the heir apparent to the British crown, immediately “stepped aside from her honorary role.”
This was only because of the loud outcry at this verbal and psychological racist attack. And Buckingham Palace described what happened as “unacceptable and regrettable.”
But just a little over a week after this incident, the “Harry & Meghan” docuseries kicked off on Netflix. The six-part series showed the sense of entitlement of even those who consider themselves as rebels in the family like Prince Harry. It, however, also confirmed what we had already known about the racist underbelly of Britain’s royal family.
The royal family and the British press derided Meghan and her mother, Doria Ragland, for being black.
The Daily Mail¸ a British newspaper supported their fascists in the 1930s had gone to town with the headline “Harry’s girl is (almost) straight outta Compton: Gang-scarred home of her mother revealed—so will he be dropping by for tea?”, when the couple’s relationship became public knowledge in 2016.
In a 2021 Oprah Winfrey interview, Meghan had also revealed that apart from “outdated, colonial undertones” that were clearly racist in the British tabloid, the royal family itself also exhibited racist attitudes.
According to her, when she was pregnant with their first child, a member of the family had expressed “concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he was born.”
These are not isolated events or mere happenstances. As the Insider newsletter points out, “the monarchy could be considered a symbol of institutional racism.” And this has a long history from the period of the trans-Atlantic slave trade till today.
Queen Elizabeth I, applauded Captain John Hawkins when he kidnapped 300 Africans and sold them for ginger, hides and sugar in 1562. It did not end there; she contributed a ship to his subsequent slave-raiding trip to Africa in 1564.
In 1660, the royal family and the City of London merchants set up the Royal African Company. The company which was established with a royal charter by King Charles II was given the monopoly of British trade in slaves across West Africa.
Our forebears who were captured by agents of this barbaric company were made to suffer even before the deadly voyage across the Atlantic. After the terrible experiences they faced, they were transported as commodities across the sea.
Those who unsuccessfully rebelled or became sick during the journey were tossed into the sea to become fish food, to the inglorious jest of loyal subjects of the crown!
And when Britain abolished the slave trade in the 1800s, because it was less profitable than and becoming a drag on its industrialization, it was the slave traders that were paid compensation for the loss of their “property” and not the slaves!
Some 3,000 families benefited from the compensation to the tune of £20 million at the time (£17 billion in today’s money). In fact, the British government did not finish paying this money until 2015, at a time that 24 African countries owed Britain over £2 billion.
Buckingham Palace’s racism, like British imperialism, did not end with its bloodstained driving seat role in the trans-Atlantic slave trade and colonialism, despite the whitewashing it came up with on behalf of British capitalism, with the so-called “Commonwealth of Nations.”
In the 1960s, when anti-racist politics forced the British parliament to push for laws that would make it illegal to employ people based on their race or ethnicity, Buckingham Palace secretly invoked the “Queen’s Consent” to continue this discriminatory employment policy for the royal family.
For decades, “colored immigrants” could work in the royal household, only as domestic servants. And even to date, British “laws that prevent race and sex discrimination” do not take effect with “the Queen and her household.”
The monarchy has perpetuated these racist policies secretly. It was an exposé by The Guardian last year which brought this nonsense to public knowledge.
In light of the reality of the royal family’s racist past, and present, and Britain’s continued imperialist exploitation of its ex-colonies, there is no justifiable basis for any African, Asian, or Caribbean country still to be part of the so-called Commonwealth of Nations.
We must dissolve this “unity” of the horse and its rider and demand an unambiguous apology, as well as reparations for centuries of our enslavement and colonization.
by Nnamdi IKEAGU & Banwo OLAGOKUN