Princess Sophia Charlotte was born in 1744. In 1761 she married King George III and it is widely believed that she became the first black Queen of England.
The British Afro Caribbean community has historically been very supportive of the British royal family, much of it extending from the first wave of immigration in the 1950’s from the West Indies and the real respect and affection held for the Queen as the Head of the Commonwealth.
However, over the past twenty years there has been a lively debate over what the royal family means in the modern world, the eventual succession of Charles who will never be as popular as the present queen, and whether the royal family can reflect the multicultural nature of British society today. Furthermore, the allegations of the behaviour towards Elizabeth Burgess by Prince Charles’s staff in 2001 have not been forgotten and were completely unacceptable.
This was brought into sharper focus when Barack Obama became President of the USA and the exceptional nature of his election. When a child of black and white parents and from a low economic background was able to become the leader of the free world, we ask ourselves, could this ever happen in Britain?
More recently the Honours debate has reflected the divided views in the community over the acceptance of Honours. Benjamin Zephaniah famously refused an Honour because he felt it had negative colonial connotations; however, Sir Lenny Henry was thrilled to accept a knighthood last year and very shortly afterwards was insulted by ITV News, who whilst showing a feature on Henry’s achievement mistakenly featured footage of black celebrity TV chef, Ainsley Harriott.
To create a more inclusive society maybe we should be looking for one of the younger royals to marry someone of colour? If you are born into privilege taking tax payers money, and a position in which you can have an unrivalled influence over government affairs, should we not expect the royal family to reflect Britain today?
Why is this important? If we are going to continue with the monarchy questions about identity and inclusion will increasingly become part of the debate about it’s future. Or will the only way to achieve a more inclusive society be by having a British President, whose children are more likely to reflect Britain today?