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Allegations of Racism at Buckingham Palace

Members of royal family. Credit: AFP File photo

Allegations of Racism have hit Buckingham Palace with a key aide quitting over remarks made to a black charity campaigner. Lady Susan Hussey, one of the late Queens friends, questioned the ethnicity of Ngozi Fulani who runs a black woman's domestic abuse charity. Lady Hussey has now resigned over making allegedly racist comments.

As this is not the first time that racism claims have been leveled against the British monarchy, one wonders just how deep this issue runs among the descendants of the late monarch, Queen Elizabeth II.

The incident in question involved a royal aide asking a black British visitor at Buckingham Palace which part of Africa she came from, do you think that was a racist question?

Look, the whole issue of racism is far deeper in the Royal Household. As we know very clearly, the Queen's husband, Prince Philip, was prone to making racist comments wherever he went. Albeit he is dead now and we are told that we are not to talk in bad language, or even unsavory words to be used of the dead, but the reality is that Prince Philip, when he went to visit China, he told British students there that if you stay long enough time in China, you might have slit eyes and comments of that type.

People used to say that he was just saying that in jest, but the reality is that, sometimes, when people speak what comes out of their mouth is really what they've been thinking, pondering and what's in their heart. So quite often, the royal household has made racist comments.

Secondly, we also know that with Megan's marriage into the royal household, she, as we all know, is not of Anglo Saxon white origin. She's a person of color, and she has had many racist jives which have been reported by both her and her husband. So it's quite deep rooted.

And historically, obviously, the royal household has been part of the British imperial past. In ways they have quite openly been racist, have abused people from Africa, Asia and South America. But I think, I want to look at a bit deeper and wider, if you like, this is a particular malaise, not just in the one household and the ruling elite in the UK.

Although we are told that we have a non white Prime Minister in the UK of Indian origin, but racism is still there, it is institutionalized in many professions, in many areas of work. Recently, Josep Borrell, the high representative of the United of the European Union for Foreign Affairs, made crude comments, as I'm sure all of you recall, when he called Europe a garden and the rest of the world a jungle.

So the elite in Europe, in the UK are, very clearly; they might not sort of vocalize it as much as they did in the past, but it is insidious, and it is deep rooted.

Shabbir Razvi, Political Analyst

Would you describe that as racist?

Yes, look, it is without doubt, you know, not only myself, many of the commentators in the last 48 hours have been saying that it is a racist comment without a doubt. 

Shabbir Razvi, Political Analyst

We have this 83 year old Lady Susan Hussey, who was one of the late Queen's most trusted aides, as well as being Prince William's godmother, asking these discriminatory questions.

How does that reflect on King Charles III and Queen Elizabeth II's other descendants, such as Prince William?

Well, look, questioning somebody's ethnicity is not racist. I mean, it can be if it said in a specifically derogatory way, but this wasn't. The actual words that were said were: "where are your people from?"

Now this is, you can see this just as an icebreaker, genuine questions about what part of the world people are from. I mean, it's quite a reasonable question to ask of white people, Asian people, colored people, pink or purple people, whatever color they happen to be.

It's perfectly reasonable to ask what part of the world the family is from and that's what Lady Susan Hussey did, the lady who has resigned, but ... the backdrop to all of this is that we've got a new king and what the king is doing is he's weeding out a lot of the staff who used to be there and were favorites of the Queen.

I think King Charles is very different to Queen Elizabeth. Their personalities are very different.

And I don't think that the royal family at the moment is racist, I think in the past it was, in fact, the whole of Britain, probably, you could say, was racist up until around about the 1960s. It was the norm when Britain had an empire. We had a culture which accepted racism. In fact, there's a comedy TV series, "Till death us do Part", which came out in the 1970s in Britain, which started to puncture this whole idea.

I think what you will find, though, within the establishment role circles, is an enormous amount of prejudice against poor people and embracing rich people. So it doesn't matter what nationality they are, or what race they are, if they're rich and greedy the British establishment will embrace them. And I think also there is most definitely a faith based bias.

That is to say what happened when Dodi Al Fayed, Mohamed Al Fayed's son, started to get friendly with Diana and looked like he was going to marry into the royal family. Well, certainly, it's my belief, and my research tells me, that the royal family decided that she was going to be assassinated to stop that marriage taking place.

So I think there are big prejudices in there, but race is not one of them. And this incident is certainly not justifiable as a genuine racist incident. I think it trivializes the whole idea of racism, which is an abhorrent concept. To take a comment, which is just about questioning somebody's ethnicity, and to jump on the bandwagon, the gravy train, and say this is racism. It's not racism.

Tony Gosling, Investigative Journalist

Shabbir Razvi, you heard our guest, Tony Gosling, who disagrees with you, what are your thoughts regarding his view?

I respect Tony very much and I sort of concur with what he's saying that, you know, that sort of investigation to ascertain where someone is from or, you know, having a conversation about their ethnicity.

I myself, you know, I'm a person of a darker color, when I meet people at parties and so on and they ask me, where are you from? I always say I'm from London. Then they say, are you really from London? As though it's a surprising sort of question (sic).

So I don't know whether one could say that that is racism in itself, but it certainly shows a lack of understanding, if you like. Would that same question be posed to a white person from Bradford or from Burnley or from Manchester? Where are your ancestors from or what's your origin? So I think it's an interesting sort of debate to have that why would a white person...

Shabbir Razvi, Political Analyst

So why has it turned into a big news item?

I think it has turned out to be big news is because, as Tony Gosling was saying, the new king is perhaps trying to clear out some of these elements from the royal household.

But the fact of the matter is that I agree with Tony Gosling that in UK, it's not really sometimes your race, or your religion, or what have you. So long as you've got a lot of money and you're greedy.

That's the reason why Mr. Sunak is the prime minister because he's wealthy, rich and greedy, if you like.

Shabbir Razvi, Political Analyst

You say that you don't think the royal family at this point is, in fact, racist. The King grew up, obviously, under the influence of his mother, Queen Elizabeth the Second, who never acknowledged the monarchy's historical role in supporting the black slave trade.

Do you believe King Charles III is not a product of that mindset?

Well, I think the way the British Empire developed, quite obviously and there was horrific subjugation of people, particularly after the Second World War in Kenya, absolutely appalling, which is, you know, white soldiers white British soldiers oppressing and killing Kenyans. I mean, this is, obviously there's a racist element to that.

But I think that there is a really, I mean, it's a there's a big attempt here in order to smear the monarchy, to a certain extent with this, because certainly, Prince Philip, I think, for example, he would crack what you might call racist jokes, but he was trying to break the ice.

He had actually quite a good sense of humor. I don't think he believed that these other races, you know, black people are inferior. I don't believe that he really thought that at all. But he did see this as a way of breaking the ice and getting (sic) cracking a joke.

Now some people might say these jokes are not funny, but actually he saw himself because the Queen was in the spotlight, Phillip was always in the background. And I can tell you aristocratic men don't really like hanging around in the background. So he saw his role as a sort of deal breaker, icebreaker and somebody who would bring a bit of a sense of humor to an otherwise boring occasion.

And so, I honestly do not believe that the current royal family is (racist) because they, particularly Kate and William, have made a very great effort I think to modernize them. I mean, the whole question, one of the big questions here is, is a monarchy a good idea, the establishment, is this debate back place that we should be basing it?

And I don't believe it necessarily is, but the thing is, every now and again, a monarchy brings up in the family, the ruling family, I mean, I remember Donald Trump in his speech the other day was saying that he spoke to President Xi in China, and he said that well, actually, you're really the king of China, aren't you? You're the president until you die. So therefore, you're the king.

And these sorts of jokes may, you know go down quite well, but effectively, China doesn't have a properly elected president because Xi is president for life. And the idea of having rulers that are rulers for life, and then maybe pass that power on to their children, is a very flawed idea. And I think we need to look more closely at that. Although of course, sometimes as I say, it throws up somebody that really does give a damn, and can be a good ruler, from time to time, and we had in Britain Charles the First, who actually did a good job; and he had his head chopped off for his trouble.

So I don't think, I don't believe the current, and particularly with Megan, Megan Markel was extremely rude to her father. She's absolutely, she's been appalling to her father, she's, she has told very close to the truth, maybe the truth, I would not say necessarily lies but some awful things about her father, and I think she is trying to attach herself to the British monarchy in order to try and bring it down.

So let's not forget that there are attempts to sabotage political power as well. And I think maybe that this decision by Lady Susan Hussey to resign is a part of that, as Charles sweeps away the old wood and brings his own people in, and I don't think that's going to be a pretty sight.

Tony Gosling, Investigative Journalist

Would you clarify what you said about Megan and the royal family?

She has been absolutely appalling when in relation to her father, she has lied about his role …, he wanted to be part of the wedding....

Tony Gosling, Investigative Journalist

You spoke of her wanting to bring down the royal family, could you clarify that, please?

I think she has attached herself to the Royals. She's attached herself to Harry by pulling on his heartstrings and she is now starting to throw bricks at the Royal Family and has managed to get Harry to do that too, you know, it might even be that she's part of an intelligence operation against the British monarchy.

Tony Gosling, Investigative Journalist

The monarchy itself is, according to some, a symbol of institutional racism in and of itself, and the fact that the UK system of hereditary head of state is racist by default.  Would you agree with that? How do you see the British monarchy?

But obviously, royal Commentators often try to portray the royal household as modernizing itself and sort of evolving over a period of time, but what we have got to understand (is) that it is a hereditary system. It is a system where no one is elected; you're born into the family, if you like, into the business and the legacy of the business is not really savory at all, as has been commented (on) earlier during this discussion.

So we've got to really move from there to see whether the royal family, the royal household, the company itself, can change into a manner that society wants it to be. If I sort of take a different angle to it, talking about Philip, sort of breaking the ice and making jokes so that the conversation can flow.

Just imagine if the leader of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khamenei, was making a comments about European, or other nations, in a derogatory manner, would we regard that as sort of humor, as breaking the ice to have a conversation? No, because when you are in certain leadership positions, you have to use the language in such a manner that is not hurtful, that doesn't sort of show any kind of racism or, you know, some kind of bias in favor of your own nation.

You've got to be diplomatic, your language certainly has to sort of express feelings of love, compassion, and fraternity, not sort of comments which could be easily not misconstrued, but actually in reality if you analyze those words, are racist by any sort of imagination.

So you know, if you've got to put that into context that if any other leader of any other country making these comments about the French, the Dutch, the Italians, the British, the Germans, I think would be sort of taken to task.

Shabbir Razvi, Political Analyst

Let’s consider what Megan Merkel and Prince Harry have said about the British media, which they both decried as not only threatening, lying and intrusive, but also overly racist.

Do you agree with that? Is that what happened? And also in this recent case, are we looking at that happening again?

This is what they call playing the race card. And this is what Megan has been doing. I think there's very legitimate criticism of Megan and her behavior and her actions, quite normal to see, but she is saying that this is racially motivated.

I mean, for example, we had one of the best radio presenters in Britain, Danny Baker, removed by the BBC from his weekly Saturday morning program, one of the most popular programs on radio here in the UK, because he had made a joke, which was referring to potential racism with Megan.

Actually, he didn't know, apparently he didn't know that she had any kind of racial side to her because I mean, obviously she's mixed race, but It's not that easy to tell. And just because he'd (said) something that could be possibly misconstrued as racist, he was removed.

So I think there's been a lot of attempts to, shall we say, juice up this whole idea of, oh, if people are criticizing Megan, then they're racist, and it's used as an excuse to get rid of people as we've seen, I think, here with Lady Susan Hussey that that they wanted to get rid of for other reasons.

Let's not forget in the UK something quite important to remember, we've done, I think, quite well as an anti racist nation. In London now two thirds of the population are from ethnic minorities, and yet London sees very little, if any, real racial violence and I think that (is) due to the Metropolitan Police, which I'm not a big fan of, but I think they've done quite well in policing things like far right events to make sure that London is actually a genuine racial melting pot where other races (thrive), ... and it's just simply not acceptable to have these racial, sort of racist tendencies in London is not seen as acceptable.

It's the sort of thing that if you get into an altercation, you're likely to get thrown out of the pub by the other members of the people in the pub. Racism is genuinely not acceptable in London.

But it does happen, of course, you know, any country that has two thirds of ethnic minorities come into its capital city, and make the indigenous population a 1/3 minority is bound to have those sorts of problems.

But I think London's dealt with it very well, overall.

Tony Gosling, Investigative Journalist

Would you agree with such a conclusion?

Being a Londoner, having lived all my life in London, I've seen different phases of racism, but certainly in the last 10, 15 or 20 years, if you like, it is certainly a melting pot.

There is an issue of open racism, what I would argue is that what has happened to the British society is that open racism is not there, there are no notices in the houses, it used to be in the 60s “No Indians and Dogs”, to rent or, you know, places of entertainment, pubs and so on would have those kinds of things. Yes, those are not there. But it is very insipid, very clever sort of racism.

There's ample research to show that people who apply for jobs with Muslim names, they're not called for interviews. There's research to show that that is the case, or people who may have non Anglo Saxon sounding names may not be called for interviews or, you know, when you have a conversation with someone on the telephone, and if you sound like a Londoner or someone with a sort of English accent, people don't realize that that person may be of a different color, but when they meet them, perhaps the jobs are not offered. So it's clever kind of racism which is operating, I believe, still to this day.

Shabbir Razvi, Political Analyst

The media is perhaps a window into how things are seen, one particular source, which was repeated in other areas, also online, based on British journalists who have said the British media is deeply racist, not only against a biracial American actress who married a prince but also to Muslims, immigrants, black Britons and South Asians. Would you agree with that?

Well, no, I definitely don't. I mean, I'm a member of the journalists union, and when we go to our annual conferences, you can see a very good spread of different ethnic minorities actually are journalists and, okay, it's maybe not two thirds ethnic minorities, even though many of the journalists are based in London, but it's certainly around about half and half.

So I think what we've seen over the years is an integration of these migrants that have come into Britain, into mainstream British society, into the professions. In fact, many people who are working in the civil service now are, specifically, from the Middle East and Asian parts of the world.

 And I honestly think we've done a pretty good job considering the brutality the British Empire, when we were the bullies of the world, in integrating, and a bit of payback, I suppose, making sure that those countries that received the sharp end of that brutality....

Tony Gosling, Investigative Journalist

In conclusion here, please tell us about the Windrush scandal, what happened there?

It was something that happened that either immigrants who came from the Caribbean, the life was made difficult for them, although they had lived here for decades. But when they returned to their countries, they were not allowed to come back to the UK. And that was a scandal that happened during Theresa May's period (sic). And that is a black mark of, again, institutionalized racism in the UK.

Shabbir Razvi, Political Analyst


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