Omid Scobie: Is Prince William & Charles’ work ‘calling out racism’ merely performative?

Prince William, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle attend an Anzac Day Service

Omid Scobie wrote a personal essay for Harper’s Bazaar about his experiences covering the royals and what he witnessed firsthand, plus some analysis of how the Crown’s rigidity, incompetence and racial blindspots have led to where we are now with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex living their best lives in Montecito. While Scobie doesn’t inundate us with piping hot tea, he makes his points and he makes them well. You can read the full Bazaar piece here. Some highlights:

Scobie went to the palace to get their response while working on Finding Freedom: “This is nonsense. … We did absolutely everything [for Meghan],” the senior aide told me over the phone. I asked for examples. “Everybody welcomed her, and she was given all the support she needed,” they continued. I asked again. “They forget how accommodating we were when it came to navigating the duchess through her first steps [as a working royal],” the aide added, somewhat curtly. I had several conversations like this over the weeks that followed—each party, be they from Clarence House, Buckingham Palace, or Kensington Palace, for the most part seemingly baffled by the Sussexes’ grievances. Finally, I took what I had and moved on.

The false & widely circulated story that Meghan made Kate cry: Meghan was repeatedly told that it would not be possible to set the record straight, despite it being a story that fed into a stereotype-laden narrative. Other royal family members were often afforded more sympathetic support when it came to dealing with inaccurate press (officials even issued a statement to deny Kate’s use of Botox in July 2019), but both Harry and Meghan felt they did not have access to this same privilege.

Remember how Harry had to issue that statement in January 2020: The couple’s exasperation came to a head in January 2020, when Kensington Palace urgently requested that Prince Harry cosign a statement against an “offensive” newspaper report stating Prince William “constantly bullied” the Sussexes before their decision to step away. “Well, if we’re just throwing any statement out there now, then perhaps KP can finally set the record straight about me [not making Kate cry],” Meghan emailed an aide, asking why side of the story public image was never considered important to anyone. But, as with many requests made by the couple, her suggestion was ignored. The Duchess of Cambridge, she was told, should never be dragged into idle gossip.

Meghan’s dark moments in 2019: She turned to senior staff—including the palace’s own HR department—but her plea for help in January 2019 was repeatedly shut down. It’s not a good look for the family, she was told. Even friends who wanted to help her or speak up in her defense were regularly reminded by palace aides to keep quiet. As the cruel commentary, racist attacks, death threats, and negative tabloid stories piled up—and the institution continued to ignore the problem—Meghan later likened the experience to a friend as “death by a thousand cuts.” Her reference to an ancient Chinese execution method was no coincidence.

Neglect & gaslighting: When Kate quickly found public adoration as the Duchess of Cambridge, the palace would proudly tell members of the press that lessons from the past had been learned. “There has been a concerted effort to ensure that history never repeats itself,” one senior staff member working for the Cambridges told me in 2014. Yet, here we are in 2021, with a very real image of Britain’s oldest and most revered establishment once again engaged in neglect and gaslighting, and dismissing mental health.

The institution has always been racist at its very core: This is an establishment that only last week briefed The Times of London that Meghan wanted to be royal “the Beyoncé way,” and that the help offered to her included establishing the queen’s Black equerry (a senior attendant, if you will) as a “mentor.” Princess Michael of Kent’s ignorance regarding wearing a blackamoor brooch during her first encounter with Meghan is a reminder that even racial sensitivity can be lacking within the family. An establishment that, as Meghan herself explained, has yet to learn the difference between rude and racist press coverage. The stiff upper lip, no matter how painful the attacks, was expected to remain impossibly rigid at all times.

Damn, Scobie: If it’s not considered appropriate to acknowledge racism or racial ignorance when aimed at a mixed-raced senior royal, then how should the 54 countries of the Commonwealth and its predominantly Black, Brown, and mixed population feel about the realm’s figurehead belonging to an institution that claims to celebrate “diversity” but in practice appears to uphold white supremacy? And if the lack of awareness Harry described to Oprah is true, then were race-related public duties, including Prince William recently calling out racism in British soccer and Prince Charles speaking out about racism in architecture in 2000, simply performative? It’s hard to forget that across the full lineup of working royals, all failed to acknowledge last year’s Black Lives Matter movement, which saw just as much protesting across the United Kingdom as the United States.

[From Harper’s Bazaar]

The end of his piece was basically like “abolish the monarchy” without saying that directly. The biggest cut – and I believe the best cut – was the point he makes about the performative nature of William and Charles’ vague words about race and racism. It’s been clear – especially in William’s case – that he has no background in the issues, that he thinks he can just declare that he’s “bored with racism” and that “racism affects mental health” and that everything will be fixed. The fact that he was behaving like a racist colonizer behind the scenes to his sister-in-law was just an added layer of his tone-deaf race relations.

Just FYI – here’s the January 2020 story about the Palace forcing Harry to issue a denial. I actually got that wrong at first, but the update has the correction. Kensington Palace was leaking like a sieve that whole month and it was a giant mess. It’s still weird that they made Harry issue that denial though.

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71 Responses to “Omid Scobie: Is Prince William & Charles’ work ‘calling out racism’ merely performative?”

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  1. Lorelei says:

    Yes. Next question.

  2. Neners says:

    I loved this piece from Omid. I especially love how he put the palace sources on blast for the same kind of vague, circuitous non-responses to direct questions that they are churning out today. It makes that much easier to see their pawprints on all these tabloid stories.

    • Elizabeth Regina says:

      Their tone deafness, obtuseness and stupidity is on display for all to see. Baldimort’s lack of emotional intelligence and self awareness is astounding. He couldn’t even get a decent PR to brief him for today.

    • MaryContrary says:

      Yes-I love that he shows the inner workings of dealing with them-and also that they had repeated chances to make things “right” and just kept doubling down.

  3. Oh_Hey says:

    So maybe I read this wrong but did Omid just reference email tea? Cause I read it as quoting an email that he’d seen from Meghan from inside. Are we about to see receipts????

    • Snuffles says:

      From what I can gather, EVERYONE knew about Meghan’s mental health issues because Kensington Palace leaked it to the press but they all sat on it.

      • Oh_Hey says:

        REALLY? That’s just… and they kept going after her and the various palaces did nothing? Where is that coming from – I don’t doubt that these people were actively trying to hurt Meghan but I want to read that myself and then spread it everywhere.

      • Becks1 says:

        Valentine Low commented on it in a podcast yesterday – that he knew about Meghan’s convo with palace HR back in summer of 2019. So someone at the palace leaked it to him.

        eta or what Nic said just below lol.

    • Nic919 says:

      Valentine Low stated in a podcast that he was aware of Meghan going to HR for help in 2019. And I am sure he isn’t the only one. So whoever was HR at the time leaked it to the press, which is a huge privacy violation and normally gets you fired.

      • Snuffles says:

        Keir Simmons on NBC said he heard about it as well.

      • Midnight@theOasis says:

        Which makes it even more vile that all the press knew Meghan was struggling and they still piled unrelenting racist crap on her. May they all burn in the lowest levels of Dante’s hell.

      • Alexandria says:

        What Nic919 said. Valentine Low said he was informed the Duchess was in distress. So HR leaked this in 2019 and the kicker is the despicable press still hounded her with increased intensity. They wanted her dead. Some of these rats are mothers. Harry called Rebecca English once to express support when her child was in and out of hospital. Look what her paper did.

        It’s sad and I feel sad for the minorities in UK.

      • Merricat says:

        Every time I think my opinion of these vermin can’t get any lower, they find a new bottom. It’s beyond indecent.

    • Faithmobile says:

      Not only are the email receipts there is a voice recording of a royal reporter admitting they knew, it’s all over twitter.

  4. Eleonor says:

    ” And if the lack of awareness Harry described to Oprah is true, then were race-related public duties, including Prince William recently calling out racism in British soccer and Prince Charles speaking out about racism in architecture in 2000, simply performative?”
    Yes, and on another related news the water is wet.

  5. Hell Nah! says:

    Demons always run to church to hide.

  6. Paperclip says:

    “Well, if we’re just throwing any statement out there now, then perhaps KP can finally set the record straight about me [not making Kate cry],” Meghan emailed an aide, asking why side of the story public image was never considered important to anyone. But, as with many requests made by the couple, her suggestion was ignored. The Duchess of Cambridge, she was told, should never be dragged into idle gossip.

    Looks like Omid got ahold of one of those receipts, huh?🤣

    • Snazzy says:

      He definitely has a backup of her dropbox :)

    • SarahCS says:

      I am loving the constant steady stream of references to the paper trails and RECEIPTS on all of this. It’s subtle enough but there in plain sight.

    • Becks1 says:

      It’s the line about how Kate “should never be dragged into idle gossip” that gets me. Like, Meghan can be dragged every which way but heaven forbid Kate’s name be involved??

      Also, this confirms for us that Harry was forced to sign the non-bullying statement.

  7. OzJennifer says:

    Is this a trick question? Because…um…yes, blindingly obviously so.

  8. Harper says:

    The Duchess of Cambridge should never be dragged into idle gossip. However, you Meghan, are fresh meat and it’s dinner time at the zoo.

    • Nic919 says:

      That confirmed that Kate and Carole were behind the false story which is why they won’t correct it.

  9. Lauren says:

    Yes. We know. They know. Now… when are they going to call Harry?

  10. Cecilia says:

    The royals are fine with black&brown people dressing their table but not sharing their table

  11. Flying Fish says:

    Yes.

  12. windyriver says:

    “They forget how accommodating we were when it came to navigating the duchess through her first steps [as a working royal].”

    I mean, we provided a black equerry – from the queen! – to serve as her ‘mentor’. What more could she want?

    • Lindsay says:

      I mean…that’s just….wtf.

    • Yup, Me says:

      Yeah – we thought the Black horse guy could help teach her the ropes on how to navigate her role as a Duchess, cause, you know … *whispers* Blaaaack.

  13. Feeshalori says:

    Wow, that email is one hot potato, just the tip of the iceberg.

  14. Rapunzel says:

    Oooooh. The reference to an email is *chef’s kiss* Meg and Harry are sitting at home going, ” did y’all not pay attention? We warned ya we have receipts”

    The palaces inept responses to this interview and some people’s *cough* William Kate Charles *cough* inability to be quiet per the queen’s orders… are gonna forced the receipts out. Pop yo popcorn, everyone.

  15. Mirage says:

    The incident of the blackamoor brooch was not a lack of racial sensitivity. It was a blatant and calculated affront to Meghan.
    I’d always considered Princess Michael of Kent like the odd one out, as she has on at least two instances showed outward racism in public. I just didn’t understand why she wasn’t ostracised from the Royal Family.
    But now I understand why, and it has taken H&M interview for my eyes to finally open. The colonialist mentality is still very much within the RF.

    • lanne says:

      The look on that miserable cow’s face said it all. Bitch wore that loud and proud.

    • ArtHistorian says:

      The BRF doesn’t like Princess Michael of Kent because she she thinks that she more royal than the Windors because her family line goes further back. They are completely fine with her racism – they just don’t like that she thinks she’s better than them due to her bloodline.

      • Sophie says:

        All of this is showing that the RF will do literally anything to preserve and protect its “white” bloodline.

    • SarahCS says:

      Let’s not forget the painting Willnot and Dolittle had on display when the Obamas came to visit. They’re all doing it all of the time.

  16. TheOriginalMia says:

    I really enjoy OmId’s perspectives of life inside the royal reporting scene. The entire institution is racist and they don’t see it but it’s clear as day. The microaggressions that chip away at your self esteem and break you down. Meghan experienced that on a global scale and the palaces were fine with that as long as it kept their secrets hidden from view. And yes, their events are performative. William and Kate’s especially. You can visibly see the discomfort on Kate’s face and body when she has to interact with black folks.

    • ArtHistorian says:

      “You can visibly see the discomfort on Kate’s face and body when she has to interact with black folks.”

      This! This has been obvious to me for some time – and she seems especially uncomfortable around black men.

      • TheOriginalMia says:

        Yep. She stiffens. It’s been obvious for some years. I remember being offended when she didn’t remove her gloves (actually that she even had them on in the first place) to meet De Blasio’s wife on their NYC tour.

      • Nic919 says:

        Yes the meeting with Lebron James was so awkward. He’s a billionaire basketball player and she was acting like he was going to attack her.

  17. Sophie says:

    Ewwww. All those picture of William – PWT.

  18. GrnieWnie says:

    True story: I was once employed by an institution that was very poorly run. My boss was British. During my first few months of employment, the finance office wasn’t paying me the salary we had agreed on (in writing). It had all the excuses for why it couldn’t reimburse me for the things it said it would reimburse me for. For that three month period, I was living on next to nothing. This was my first job after leaving academia, and it was a very rude awakening.

    It all came to a head and I sent my boss the emails where HR had agreed, in writing, to my very detailed breakdown of the salary. He then forced the finance office to pay me after I said I would walk out, on the spot, if he did not.

    Months later, he was mad at me about something. He goes, “We have CAAAAAARED for you. We have SUPPORRRRRRTED you. We WELLLLLCOMED you. We have done SOOOOO much for you, and this is how you treat us.”

    Yes, he really thought that forcing the institution to pay me the salary we had agreed on was a gift for which I should be thankful. That’s what comes to mind when reading this claim by the family. “Meghan, we SUPPOOOORRRRTED you ENTIIIIIIIIRELY. What more could you possibly ask for??”

    • Lemons says:

      It’s actually quite worrying how this colonial mindset seems to be quite prevalent in their culture today. I don’t know if there are any other British commenters here that could weigh in? Being nice or doing your job is not going above and beyond. It’s being a decent person which should be the default.

  19. India says:

    Willy Bully Boy really is a despicable sneak of a liar. He and his family treated Meghan like hell. But unfortunately for them, they didn’t know who they were dealing with.

  20. Harla says:

    Omid seems to have zero f*cks to give anymore! I’m loving it!

  21. Merricat says:

    Here’s to the truth. Let’s hope they pay attention.

  22. Bess says:

    I don’t understand why Megan asking for help regarding her mental health issues was a problem when Harry very publicly stated that he had therapy to deal with his mother’s death. Why would BP prevent Megan from seeing a psychologist?

    • Becks1 says:

      I think it was because by that point, it was one step further than just needing a psychologist – Meghan was asking to check herself into a mental health facility.

      But it sounds like they didnt “even” connect her with a psychologist – which would have been the very least they could have done at that point.

      • Rapunzel says:

        Becks- I wonder if she did check herself in somewhere, secretly for a bit, and that’s how Diana’s friend that was mentioned helped?

        Or maybe she did just simply want a therapist, and was told no because the BRF was afraid it would make them look bad? Harry served in combat, so, he has an acceptable excuse for therapy, but one doesn’t just go into therapy for coping with regular royal life, as that would hurt the firm’s rep?

    • MsIam says:

      People who are suicidal need to be monitored, which in an inpatient setting would happen. Plus I’m sure she just wanted to get out of there for 30, 60 or 90 days for the sake of her sanity. I’m wondering if she was seeing a therapist and they recommended in patient care and the palace said “no”?

    • Millie says:

      I would imagine the person she spoke to was worried about the royal family’s rep because they knew the environment was actively contributing to her decreased mental health. In Prince Harry’s case, the “bad guy” was the press who killed his mother. In Meghan’s case, the arrow points squarely to the royal family (either through deliberate action, inaction or negligence).

  23. MCG says:

    This is what these people are missing: the UK may feel one way about their monarch but these Commonwealth countries? Yeah… they see the BS that went down with the Sussexes. The Crown that Charles and William will (probably) eventually wear will cover a lot less ground so to speak as I fully expect the Commonwealth to look completely different in a few years.

    These idiots.

  24. Sandra says:

    Literally everything the family does is performative. All that the royal family represents anymore is pageantry. Hell they get paid to live in luxury for waving from a balcony a couple of times of year and getting photographed at beer tastings. There is nothing genuine about what they do.

  25. NotSoSimpleTaylor says:

    I like Omid but I hate that asks the obvious questions like this. Duh.

    I mean Day 1, Charles played into all the tropes of hanging out with his black friends. Day 2 King Keen here is doing a self-diagnostic on the royal family.

    If they truly weren’t racist they would sit down and discuss the ways in which the colonization their family perpetuated is racist in and of itself. They would make amends to India and all of their former colonies.

  26. MsIam says:

    Deleted

  27. Kaw1204 says:

    The man said he was bored by racism as if it were every exciting. The man was bored by aggressors rather than feel sympathy for the victims of the behavior. He was basically saying, “I’ve seen and heard all of this before. come better.”

  28. TeamAwesome says:

    This is why William said he was bored of racism. Can’t you see them knowing all of this and then rolling their eyes behind the scenes? Despicable.