All eyes are on Meghan Markle as she plans to marry Prince Harry next year. The couple’s engagement is a big step in ushering Britain's monarchy into a more modern direction. Not only is Markle divorced, but she’s also Black. The Internet was more than excited to see the royal family welcome its first biracial member, and just when it looked like times were a-changing at Buckingham Palace, we got an ugly reminder Prince Harry’s family still has ways to go.
On Wednesday, the Suits actress attended the Queen’s Christmas lunch at Buckingham Palace. Prince William and Kate Middleton were there, so were Prince Harry’s cousins Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice, but it was Princess Michael of Kent, Prince Michael of Kent’s wife and Queen Elizabeth II’s first cousin who drew criticism over her choice of jewelry. She wore what appeared to be a blackamoor brooch, which most consider to be racist, to the lunch.
That particular style of "decorative" jewelry depicts dark-skinned people, mostly men, in subservient roles, such as servants or slaves, and was popular in the Early Modern period. These days, blackamoor jewelry is widely considered to be highly racially insensitive at best, so much so, that recently, there have been petitions to have Blackamoor statues and figurines removed from hotels and other buildings.
This not the first time Princess Michael has been called out for racism, either. More than a decade ago, in 2004, she reportedly told black diners to “go back to the colonies” in a New York restaurant. In a bid to prove she wasn't racist shortly after, she revealed she had pretended to be “a half-caste African” a few years prior. “I even pretended years ago to be an African, a half-caste African, but because of my light eyes I did not get away with it, but I dyed my hair black,” she said in an interview on ITV1 the same year. Oh, and her father was a Nazi who served as an SS officer for Hitler.
Markle and Princess Michael reportedly did not sit at the same table during the Queen’s lunch, but they will have likely come face-to-face and been introduced at the intimate gathering. On Friday, a spokesperson for Princess Michael told TMZ she was “very sorry and distressed” over the pin. “She’s learned her lesson, and is going to retire the brooch for good.”
Perhaps someone should remind her it's 2017, not 1717.