JUNE 3, 2021
The royal family and Queen Elizabeth’s monarchy seem to be treading hot waters off late and a latest investigative report has taken it a step further. On Wednesday, The Guardian published an investigative account of how Buckingham Palace until the late 1960s banned “coloured immigrants or foreigners” from serving in clerical roles in the royal household. Citing a new set of documents, the article reignites the British royal family’s history with race.
The documents, unearthed from the National Archives, state that the Queen’s courtiers banned “coloured immigrants or foreigners” from serving in office roles and further shed light upon the parliamentary procedure known as Queen’s consent. The Guardian’s report highlights a 1968 report in which the Queen’s chief financial manager informed civil servants that immigrants or foreigners can work as domestic servants in the royal household but “it was not, in fact, the practice to appoint” them to clerical roles.
It is, however, not clear when the ban came to an end. While Buckingham Palace did not respond to The Guardian’s report, it did say that people from ethnic minority backgrounds are being employed by the royal household since the 1990s. Adding that it did not keep records of racial background of employees prior to that.
A Buckingham Palace spokesperson, in a separate statement to E!News, stated: “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.”
The Guardian’s report further sheds light on how the Queen was “personally exempted” from equality laws for more than four decades. In the 1960s, the UK government began the procedure to introduce laws that would make it illegal to refuse to employ an individual on the grounds of their race or ethnicity. However, the Queen was exempted, thus making it quite impossible for ethnic minorities and women to complain in courts, if there ever was a discriminatory issue.
Buckingham Palace did not shy away from accepting that the Queen was exempted from these equality laws. It also stated that it had a “separate process” for hearing complaints related to discrimination. However, did not divulge the details of this process.
The series of racial and sexual equality laws were implemented in the 1970s by the UK government. Official documents reveal that government officials worked in tandem with the Queen’s advisors on the wordings of these laws.
The British royal family’s history with race came into the spotlight again around two months ago. Meghan Markle, who is the royal family’s first mixed-race member, revealed that there were concerns about her child Archie’s skin colour within the royal household during an interview with Oprah Winfrey.
Meghan’s allegations led to Prince William being questioned at a royal engagement if the royal family was a racist one. He had said, “We are very much not a racist family.”