Even if you aren’t a fan of "The Crown" or don’t keep up with the drama surrounding the royals, I’m sure you’ve seen the memes and rumors that followed the Oprah interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. Some of the biggest takeaways from the interview were racist conversations concerning Meghan and Harry’s son, Archie and his skin tone, Meghan’s struggle with her mental health, and a general lack of support from the royal family which led to both Meghan and Harry leaving the institution.
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and late husband to Queen Elizabeth II, recently passed away which caused people to look back at his legacy with mixed feelings. While many mourned his death and celebrated his achievements, others reflected on some of his past offensive statements which has sparked a conversation about the royals and the British Monarchy itself. Recent media coverage of the royals has heavily focused on their family drama and hearing the effects it’s had on people within the institution and the colonial ties it continues to uphold, I think it’s time for the monarchy’s reign to end.
To give some historical context, the royal family has ruled for over 1200 years with the public image of the royals and the expansion of the British rule being largely credited to Queen Victoria’s reign which ended in 1901. The Commonwealth dates back to the British Empire’s reign, with countries gaining independence the Commonwealth was a way to unite these former British colonies. With 54 countries being members of the Commonwealth, Britain continues to benefit from its past colonial reign today. Apart from the Commonwealth games meant to promote its ideals of development, democracy and peace, many criticize the actual impact the Commonwealth has made.
Meghan Markle also addressed the racist headlines that surfaced and I noticed the double standards in how women are treated by the media and whether they’re protected by the monarchy compared to the treatment men receive. Queen Elizabeth’s son, Prince Andrew, who has been accused of sexual assault and past ties to convicted sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein, has not received the same amount of scrutiny that Meghan Markle has. The immense privilege the royals have shields them from taking accountability and facing consequences for their actions.
These power dynamics and lack of repercussions that exist within the monarchy have been pointed out within various institutions around the world as well. There have been more conversations about the way police, politicians, and religious leaders frequently abuse their power and the role their institutions play in protecting them. While the drama surrounding the royals might be minor in comparison to all these other calls to action, the British monarchy is just another example of an age-old institution getting away with injustices that it needs to be held accountable for.
In this time when those in power need to be held to higher standards and show greater transparency and efforts to change these ongoing wrongdoings, how can the British monarchy be seen as an exception? When heads of state are treated like celebrities or people to be idolized we fail to look beyond the clothes, glamorous vacations and drama and into what really matters. This institution is one of the oldest markers of colonialism, and the racism it was founded on is still deeply embedded in it today.
The British Monarchy is unfair to the people within it too — they are somehow simultaneously held to unrealistically high standards and no standards at all by being sheltered from a lot of the issues most people deal with in society. When someone like Meghan Markle is forced to leave the institution because they are unable to fit into these strict requirements then maybe it’s time to accept they’re no longer in touch with what our society represents. This institution is meant to represent the country but seems to have a problem with diversity in its own home. If the first Black woman felt so uncomfortable she was forced to leave, what type of message does this send to the people of England?
I recognize that my lack of personal connection to Britain gives me an outsider opinion and while I do think the Monarchy is an interesting part of British tradition that is important to the country, it’s past time to admit that often deep traditions that make up our country are rooted in racism and need to be changed. No institution should be protected from criticism, especially one as old as The British Monarchy. It’s natural that some things would be outdated in it and maybe looking at these issues within the Monarchy will cause us to also think deeper about traditions and institutions we consider important in the U.S. with a more critical eye. Looking at events just from these past couple of weeks, it’s no secret the U.S. and its own institutions need to undergo some massive changes as well.
Joslin Torres is a sports reporter for The Beacon. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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