Harry and Meghan call to end 'structural racism'

  • Published
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex in March 2020Image source, Reuters

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have called for the end of "structural racism" in a piece written for a newspaper for Black History Month.

Prince Harry and Meghan said there had been changes in the UK in the past 30 years but "sufficient progress had not been achieved".

They were writing in the London Evening Standard as they highlighted leaders in the UK's black community.

The couple recently urged voters in the US election to "reject hate".

The duke and duchess have moved to Santa Barbara with their son Archie and agreed a deal to create shows for the streaming service Netflix, having stepped back as senior royals in January.

In the piece they said that "if you are white and British, the world you see often looks just like you" and spoke of the importance for young people of seeing role models and leaders who share the same skin colour as them.

"For as long as structural racism exists, there will be generations of young people of colour who do not start their lives with the same equality of opportunity as their white peers. And for as long as that continues, untapped potential will never get to be realised," they warned.

The duke and duchess concluded the article by saying: "We cannot change history, nor can we edit our past. But we can define our future as one that is inclusive, as one that is equal, and one that is colourful."

Race equality think tank Runnymede describes structural racism as "the set of circumstances artificially created over generations, through European colonialism, which holds 'whiteness' to be superior."

After the article was published, a spokesman for Prince Harry told the BBC: "The Duke believes structural racism exists in the UK and I think you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who disagrees with that.

"He is not saying that Britain itself is structurally racist or that Britain is racist." The spokesman said the Duke was referring to parts of institutions in Britain.

Image source, Dominic Lipinski/PA Media
Image caption,
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex during their tour of South Africa

In an accompanying interview Meghan said she understood that the Black Lives Matter protests following George Floyd's death in the US had been "inflammatory for a lot of people" but said when there is peaceful protest with the intention of wanting community and equality, "that is a beautiful thing".

She added: "While it has been challenging for a lot of people certainly having to make this reckoning of historical significance that has got people to the place that they are, that is uncomfortable for people. We recognise that. It is uncomfortable for us."

Prince Harry told the paper he accepted some of their views may be seen as "controversial" but said it was an important time to use their platform. He said it was not about "pointing the finger" but was an important time in British and world culture "that we should be grasping and actually celebrating".

They also discussed their son, who Meghan said keeps them on their toes and dance group Diversity's performance on Britain's Got Talent, which the duke said was "the most amazing display".

The list of "Next Gen Trailblazers" was selected by BAME celebrities including rugby player Maro Itoje, Booker-prize winner Bernadine Evaristo and Baroness Doreen Lawrence.