In their investigation on whether the Queen abuses her power of the “Queen’s Consent”, The Guardian found documents flatly stating that in Buckingham Palace “it was not, in fact, the practice to appoint coloured immigrants or foreigners” to clerical roles until at least the late 1960s.
This is Buckingham Palace’s second major report of racism this year.
The year was already rife with accusations of racism towards the Royal family from Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, including that members of Buckingham Palace had “concerns and conversations about how dark [Archie’s] skin might be when he’s born,” the couple revealed on their interview with Oprah in March, to which Prince William responded “We are very much not a racist family.”
Buckingham Palace’s statement about the allegation reads, “The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan. The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning. While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately. Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved family members.”
The Guardian‘s discovered documents paint Buckingham Palace as being institutionally racist.
The paper released the original documents for everyone to read and download. They were investigating uses of the “Queen’s Consent,” where the queen chooses to give Parliment permission to debate issues that pertain to or affect her private interests. Buckingham Palace claims the permission is merely a formality, but The Guardian believes the Queen uses it to throw her executive weight around and “secretly lobby ministers” to change legislation.
In the 1960s, the government was attempting to propose legislation that would make discrimination on the grounds of race or ethnicity illegal. The laws were passed in the 1970s. Except, the Queen is exempted from those laws to this day, something Buckingham Palace does not deny. The documents reveal that the Queen used the “Queen’s Consent” to shape the wording of the laws. She used her influence to protect her exemption.
Written in 1968 the documents are a summary of discussions around the legislation with Lord Tryon, who was responsible for the Queen’s finances, other courtiers and the author, Home Office civil servant, TG Weiler.
In the documents, Weiler says that Tryon thought the Queen’s household staff falls under three types of roles.
“(a) senior posts, which were not filled by advertising or by any overt system of appointment and which would presumably be accepted as outside the scope of the bill; (b) clerical and other office posts, to which it was not, in fact, the practice to appoint coloured immigrants or foreigners; and (c) ordinary domestic posts for which coloured applicants were freely considered, but which would in any event be covered by the proposed general exemption for domestic employment.”
While the quote itself is impressive, a large portion of the debate around the legislation itself fell around how it should affect the Queen. In the document, Weiler wrote, “They were particularly concerned that if the proposed legislation applied to the Queen’s household it would for the first time make it legally possible to criticize the household. Many people do so already, but this has to be accepted and is on a different footing from a statutory provision.”
When the wording was agreed upon in March, another Home Office official reported that the courtiers “agreed that the way was now open for the secretary of state to seek the Queen’s Consent to place her interest at the disposal of Parliament for the purpose of the bill.”
The wording of the quotes makes it seem like they couldn’t get the Queen’s permission to pass the bill without her exemption from the racial equity standards.
Buckingham Palace’s relationship with race equity in staffing remained contentious.
Even as recently as 1990, reporter Andrew Morton wrote for the Sunday Times that “a black face has never graced the executive echelons of royal service – the household and officials” and that in the Buckingham Palace “even among clerical and domestic staff, there is only a handful of recruits from ethnic minorities”.
1997 saw Buckingham Palace confirm to The Independent that they were not doing their due diligence in ensuring equal opportunity among staff.
According to a spokesperson, “The royal household and the sovereign comply with the provisions of the Equality Act, in principle and in practice. This is reflected in the diversity, inclusion and dignity at work policies, procedures and practices within the royal household. Any complaints that might be raised under the act follow a formal process that provides a means of hearing and remedying any complaint.”
The Palace responded to today’s allegations, saying that “Claims based on a second-hand account of conversations from over 50 years ago should not be used to draw or infer conclusions about modern day events or operations. The principles of Crown Application and Crown Consent are long established and widely known.”
Bolding in quotes is authors’ own.
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