'This is racism': Calls for action after revelations ethnic minorities 'banned' from Buckingham Palace jobs

·Royal Correspondent
·5-min read

Watch: Buckingham Palace Reportedly Banned Ethnic Minorities From Office Jobs

Buckingham Palace is facing calls for a fuller response after unearthed notes found the Queen's courtiers did not employ "coloured immigrants or foreigners" for certain positions in the royal household.

Documents found in the National Archives, which date back to 1968, revealed the Queen’s chief financial manager informed civil servants "it was not, in fact, the practice to appoint coloured immigrants or foreigners" for clerical roles, but that they could work as domestic servants.

The Palace refused to answer questions about the apparent ban and said it had records of people from ethnic minority backgrounds being employed during the 1990s, but did not keep account of race before then.

The documents, found by The Guardian, also detailed how the palace had negotiated exemptions from laws which prevent race and sex discrimination. 

The newspaper said it found the Queen was exempt from the laws which make it illegal to refuse to employ someone on the basis of their race or ethnicity. That is reported to mean the Race Relations Board would have had to send complaints to the home secretary, not the courts. 

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip attend a service for the Order of St Michael and St George at St Paul's Cathedral, London, 24th July 1968. The Queen is wearing the Star of the Order, which bears the motto 'Auspicium Melioris Aevi'.  (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
The Queen and Prince Philip at a service for the Order of St Michael and St George at St Paul's Cathedral in 1968. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

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A spokesman for the Palace said: "Claims based on a second-hand account of conversations from over 50 years ago should not be used to infer or draw conclusions about modern day events or operations. 

"The principles of the Crown Application and Crown Consent are long established and widely known.

"The Royal Household and the Sovereign comply with the provisions of the Equality Act in principle and in practice. This is reflected in the diversity, inclusion, and dignity at work policies, procedures and practices within the Royal Household.

"Any complaints that might be raised under the act follow a formal process that provides a means of hearing and remedying any complaint." 

However its response has not satisfied many, who want a stronger course of action. The documents come in the wake of allegations of racism made by Meghan Markle, the first mixed-race member of the Royal Family, who said a conversation was had raising concerns about the skin colour of her future children while she was a senior royal. 

MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy tweeted: "The monarchy is a public institution funded by public money.

"It is only right that they respond to these revelations and tell the public what they intend to do to address allegations and incidents of institutional racism past and present."

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Former BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt tweeted: "3 months on from Meghan’s claim of racism, we learn that the Queen has been exempt from race and sex discrimination laws for more than four decades. The diversity tsar the royals plan to appoint will be busy." 

Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, who wrote This Is Why I Resist, told LBC: "I would be very surprised if anyone thinks this is shocking. I'm not shocked, not at all.

"When they say colour they do mean black, or Asian people, not having them in clerical or front-facing roles, that was the norm, not just back then.

"In Britain, racial superiority is manifested in plain sight and more often than not under the guide of polite society. 

"The Queen is still exempt from race discrimination laws - I'm thinking 'what the heck, come on, how is that possible?' How can we have a monarchy that is not subject to scrutiny, that is above the law?"

She said racism is "Buckingham Palace banning black, Asian, ethnic minorities from office roles".

She added: "Racism is exempting the Queen from prosecution of race discrimination laws, racism is placing the Queen above the law - that's white supremacy personified. 

"Those who have experienced all kinds of discrimination in the royal household, not having recourse under the law to see recompense, justice, that's wrong."

She said the palace should look into what happened and said: "Racism is not just practiced, it's a mindset."

The lawyer later tweeted: "Did Harry and Meghan lie about racism at the Firm? No." 

Meghan referred to 'The Firm' as she sat down to talk to Oprah about life in the royal family. (CBS)
Harrry and Meghan claimed they had faced racism in the Royal Family. (CBS)

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After Harry and Meghan's allegations of racism in the institution, William defended his family as "very much not a racist family" and other people came out in defence of the royals, saying they had good experiences of working with the Queen and her descendants.

In some Commonwealth realms, where the Queen is the head of state, there were calls for a move away from the monarchy, with some supporting her replacement with an elected head of state.

While those calls appeared to die down, this could reignite the debates, particularly in Caribbean nations. 

In Canada, calls to remove the monarchy reached new highs. 

Carolyn Cooper, a professor in Jamaica, said after the Winfrey interview: "What it should mean for us is that we should jump up and get rid of the Queen as the head of state.

"It's a disreputable institution. It's responsible for the enslavement of millions of us who came here to work on plantations. It's part of the whole legacy of colonialism and we need to get rid of it."

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