Oh, Will. Where was all this outrage over the UK’s racism problem when your sister-in-law needed you? Where was this energy when said SIL and your younger brother had to literally flee the country to escape the racist hate?
Earlier this week, Prince William defended some of England’s Black soccer players who were on the receiving end of racist comments after the team lost in penalties during the UEFA Euro Cup final against Italy on Sunday. Players Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka were targeted on social media following Italy’s win, and a mural of Rashford in Manchester was defaced with racist graffiti.
The second-in-line to the throne took to Twitter, writing, “I am sickened by the racist abuse aimed at England players after last night’s match. It is totally unacceptable that players have to endure this abhorrent behaviour. It must stop now and all those involved should be held accountable.”
I am sickened by the racist abuse aimed at England players after last night’s match.
It is totally unacceptable that players have to endure this abhorrent behaviour.
It must stop now and all those involved should be held accountable. W
— The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (@KensingtonRoyal) July 12, 2021
The backlash was almost immediate. In short: Twitter followers pointed to the hypocrisy of William’s statement, accusing him outright of performative activism. In March, when Meghan Markle and Prince Harry sat down for an explosive televised interview with Oprah Winfrey, the Duchess of Sussex detailed the overt racism she faced at the hands of the British tabloids, the public and the royal family. You’ll recall how the entire royal family had famously remained silent on the rampant tabloid and online abuse hurled at Meghan (and not to mention their then-newborn son, Archie, who was likened to a chimp by a since-fired BBC Radio host). Not a peep was uttered in their defense.
As one person pointed out on Twitter:
This shows that it wouldn’t have been hard for William & Kate to make a public statement condoning the blatant racism against Meghan Markle. Perhaps they encouraged it in a fit of jealousy over her wild popularity.🤔
— 🍂Audra Wise🍂 (@wiseaudra) July 12, 2021
Whilst I appreciate Prince William speaking out about racist comments towards football players, where was this support when Meghan Markle was being bullied, even contemplating ending her life due to the comments? #Euro2020Final pic.twitter.com/4NguVdcIpv
— tea_ 💗 (@ice_teaaa_) July 12, 2021
Since Meghan and Harry’s Oprah interview, the royal family have fallen under close scrutiny — and rightfully so. Considering Britain is currently having a long overdue conversation about its imperial past (and the lingering colonial mindset that has seemingly continued to persist), it’s only natural that many people are taking William’s most recent statement with a grain of salt. Systemic racism starts from the top (think: institutions such as the monarchy) and only when the royal family owns up to their role in it, will real change actually start to take place. But we’re not holding our breath.
The Oprah interview and subsequent fallout has certainly done a number on the House of Windsor, forcing them to face accusations they’ve never really had to deal with in the past. Prince Charles and William, in particular, have taken some hard hits and will likely continue to do so until they do something meaningful to repair the damage with Harry and Meghan. After all, actions speak louder than a one-off tweet.
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