Sir Trevor Phillips, the former chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), has hit out at the Duke and Duchess of Sussex for “squandering” their opportunity to show the world the UK’s view on race.
The broadcaster and former politician said that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s decision to step down as senior members of the royal family in 2021 was akin to them choosing not to help “make things different for millions of people”.
Speaking to the MailOnline on Windrush Day (Thursday 22 June), Philips also claimed that “no one cared about Meghan’s race”.
He said: “[The Sussexes] could have been a beacon of discovery and reconciliation. Not just to Britain, but the whole world.
“Instead, they completely squandered this golden opportunity to show everyone what this country is really like in matters of race – a country where no one disturbs themselves about a marriage across the lines of race and ethnicity.”
Phillips, who used to present Trevor Phillips on Sunday on Sky News, accused the royal couple of “[constructing] this completely ridiculous and unpleasant story about how maltreated they were”, adding that “frankly, no one believes” it.
“No one cared about Meghan’s race,” he continued. “They could have made things different for millions of people and they chose not to. That’s unforgivable. In my book, that’s a sin.”
Harry and Meghan have spoken out about an “unconscious bias” within the royal family and alleged that an unnamed member of the family had expressed “concerns” about how dark their son’s skin would be before he was born.
In their Netflix docuseries Harry and Meghan, the duchess, who is half-African American and half-Caucasian, also said she experienced much more racism in the UK than in the US.
She said in the second episode of the series: “It’s very different to be a minority but not be treated as a minority off the bat. Obviously now, people are very aware of my race because they made it such an issue when I went to the UK.
“Before that, most people didn’t treat me ‘like a Black woman’. So that talk didn’t have to happen for me [as a child].”
Meghan was also subjected to racist coverage about her in the tabloids. The MailOnline’s 2016 headline “Harry’s girl is (almost) straight outta Compton” has been criticised as a top example of racist press commentary directed at Meghan before she married Harry in 2018.
The headline referenced the 1988 song “Straight Outta Compton” by America rap group NWA. Meghan grew up in the district of Crenshaw in Los Angeles, which is located 14 miles from Compton.