OPINION - Britain and the Royals have both lost out from Harry and Meghan’s exile

 (Daniel Hambury/Stella Pictures Ltd)
(Daniel Hambury/Stella Pictures Ltd)

The Coronation brought a mixed bag of emotions. I spent most of it next to a very soggy Buckingham Palace broadcasting with American network CBS. The makeshift media village was so muddy it was like that other great British institution, Glastonbury, with slightly better loos.

At one point the American anchor broke from the script and exclaimed: “Wow … you guys are SO COOL?”

It’s what we do with great aplomb. Through occasions like this, we export a fairytale vision of Britain — ancient, feudal, bejewelled, opulent, cloaked in furs and dripping with wealth.

But we know the reality of today’s Britain is different. That’s why the organisers were wise to try and make the service at Westminster Abbey reflect the society which pays for all the tiaras and trimmings. There were people invited from many different backgrounds and that made it interesting, relevant and appropriate. And belting out Zadok the Priest was a near religious experience, regardless of your faith.

So that’s why like many people including myself and actress Adjoa Andoh noticed such a contrast with that all-important balcony shot of the King, Queen and close family members. It was very different to the Abbey. It was all white — that is simply a statement of fact. As is the fact that it could have been different if Meghan, right — a bi-racial woman — had been there. In a parallel universe, if she had been present that would have meant a departure from a tableau which hasn’t changed in centuries. And let’s not forget, that shot is the inner circle of privilege, the apex of elitism in Britain. Which we all fund. So that’s why it does matter. It tells a story.

That shot proved what a shame it was that the Royal family lost the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. I don’t blame them one bit for leaving and think they were treated badly. Everyone involved in this row has lost out but perhaps most is the institution which needs to connect with a different audience. They could have been a real asset.

What is also sad but unsurprising is the racially charged backlash I and others like Andoh have had for merely pointing out the lack of diversity which exists within the Royal family. I tweeted this and received rabid responses like “why does Britain need to change?” and “fight to preserve our precious white culture.” The other new thing is to call any black or brown person who highlights any inequality a racist themselves, normally by accounts which tell you go back to where you came from. Glasgow, in my case.

Andoh has received huge amounts of abuse. But she need not apologise for making a factual observation.

We all want this new Carolean era under our new King to be happy and successful. But does this mean arresting people for not supporting the monarchy? Or abusing women of colour who merely point out an uncomfortable truth? Our new King is many things — clever, sensitive and wordly. I’m sure he looks at this and thinks “not in my name.”

Starmer’s time has almost come

Last week’s local elections were fascinating. The Tories had a stinker while Labour, the Lib Dems and Greens produced some stonking results across England. The next general election is still a way off and many things can happen but there’s a big chance now that Keir Starmer could be Prime Minister.

That’s a big deal. Until very recently (the Liz Truss mini-Budget), it looked impossible for Labour to make it to Downing Street, that the Tories could easily win another term. That’s now not the case. Throw in the SNP meltdown in Scotland, which Labour will surely benefit from in the polls, and it looks like years of Conservative rule could be coming to an end.

The issue for Starmer now is whether he can get a majority — or will it be a hung parliament? How will tactical voting play out?

And how will he navigate all the other parties apart from the Tories ganging up on him to preserve their vote? British politics is about to get very exciting. Again.