The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have called on Britain to grasp the opportunity to tackle structural racism, saying the world is “created by white people for white people”.
The Sussexes, who were interviewed via videolink from their Californian home, said the better representation in positions of power is necessary for young black Britons as they argue “we cannot change our history” but must fight to improve for the next generation.
“We cannot change history, nor can we edit our past,” they said. “But we can define our future as one that is inclusive, as one that is equal, and one that is colourful.”
Prince Harry, who told the Evening Standard of his own “awakening” to racism, said: “Because I wasn’t aware of so many of the issues and so many of the problems within the UK and also globally as well. I thought I did but I didn’t.”
He added: ““It is not about pointing the finger, it is not about blame. I will be the first person to say, again, this is about learning.
“And about how we can make it better. I think it is a really exciting time in British culture and British history, and in world culture.
“This is a real moment that we should be grasping and actually celebrating. Because no one else has managed to do this before us.”
Asked about the Black Lives Matter protests, the Duchess conceded they had been “inflammatory for a lot of people” and left them “uncomfortable”.
“But when there is just peaceful protest and when there is the intention of just wanting community and just wanting the recognition of equality, then that is a beautiful thing,” she said.
“While it has been challenging for a lot of people certainly having to make this reckoning of historical significance that has got people to the place that they are, that is uncomfortable for people.
“We recognise that. It is uncomfortable for us.”
The couple have now revealed their list of notable “Black History Month NextGen Trailblazers”, with nominations from public figures including rugby star Maro Itoje, Vogue editor Edward Enninful, Olympic boxer Nicola Adams, and Booker Prize-winning author Bernardine Evaristo.
Writing in the Evening Standard, the couple said there had been “unquestionable progress” since BHM began 30 years ago, but added: “Yet in many ways sufficient progress has not been achieved.”
“For as long as structural racism exists, there will be generations of young people of colour who do not start their lives with the same equality of opportunity as their white peers,” they write. “And for as long as that continues, untapped potential will never get to be realised.
“If you are white and British, the world you see often looks just like you — on TV, in media, in the role models celebrated across our nation. That is not a criticism; it’s reality.
“Many recognise this, but others are not aware of the effect this has on our own perspective, our own bias, but also the effect it has on young people of colour.”
For young black Britons especially, they said, role models are “absolutely vital in opening doors of opportunity”.
Using a scenario of toyshops only having white dolls, and whether white people would notice the absence of other skin tones, Prince Harry said: “I use that as just one example of where we as white people don’t always have the awareness of what it must be like for someone else of a different coloured skin, of a black skin, to be in the same situation as we are where the world that we know has been created by white people for white people.”
Even in London, he said, “if you actually get out on to the streets and talk to people, it doesn’t feel as diverse as it actually is”.
Speaking of the couple’s hopes that they could “use our platform”, he said he hoped to “actually start a conversation and introduce people to the black community that are making a massive difference within their own communities and across the UK as a whole as well”.
In an interview, the couple revealed they have spoken to Ashley Banjo, offering their support after his Black Lives Matter performance with Diversity on Britain’s Got Talent generated 24,500 complaints to Ofcom.
The watchdog went on to reject the complaints.
“I am sure even me talking about it will be controversial,” said Prince Harry. “But the reality of it is he [Banjo] and his team of guys put on the most amazing display.
“I am very glad Ofcom made the decision that they did but that in itself kind of proves how much this conversation needs to continue.”