Most believe allegations but think it should be sorted out in private
Of all the issues aired during the explosive Harry and Meghan “tell-all” TV interview with Oprah Winfrey, the suggestion of racism within the Royal Family is the one that has caused the most outrage, concern and frankly, embarrassment. With its empire-building past and colonial history, it is unarguable that racism and racist actions contributed hugely to the wealth and worldwide standing of what is now Great Britain.
We all admit that – it’s impossible to deny, excuse, or cover up, as it’s plainly there in the history books and in grainy black and white filmed news coverage. We know too that the Royal Family played its part in those racist ways and days, but the majority of us are thankful that times and attitudes have changed; we have moved on and the UK is now a multi-cultural and multi-racial society.
But let’s be honest, that is not an opinion shared by all, and racism remains an ugly presence in British society. For some, even within individual families, it can be a touchy and difficult issue to talk about, especially if there is the suspicion that someone we are close to still holds on to racist attitudes. Could that be a scenario within the Royal Family too? Many Brits continue to adore the royals, especially Her Majesty The Queen, who is held in high esteem by most.
But when it comes to younger royals and to those on the fringes of the family, opinions are much more divided. Some love them all, believing they do immeasurable good for Britain and its reputation around the world. Others consider the Royal Family a pampered, over-paid and over-privileged anachronism, which the nation can ill-afford in modern times.
Some would vote for the royals to go completely, whilst others would choose to further slim down the numbers, dispensing with those dukes and duchesses we barely recognise anyway. But on one point, most are agreed: if we do have royals they must serve a useful purpose. Waving to the crowds, opening factories and reassuring the population in times of crisis is good; airing the dirty washing on prime-time TV is something else. If we believe Meghan and Harry, at least one of our royals retains racist attitudes, but is telling all on telly the right way to sort it out?
What our surveys show
We posed three questions in our survey and the response to the third was probably the most important and revealing. Firstly, we asked whether those surveyed felt it was right for Meghan and Harry to air their grievances in the Oprah Winfrey interview. While 29% felt it was right, a higher number, 45%, said it was wrong. A further 18% said it was neither right nor wrong and 8% were undecided. General sympathies in regard to the royal ruckus, particularly amongst older responders, appear to rest more with the family in general, 36%, than they do with the Sussexes, 27%. A strong 21% had little sympathy for either, while 10% said they sympathised with both factions and a further 6% said they “don’t know”.
Disturbingly, in answer to our third question, a combined figure of 70% said they thought Meghan’s claims of racist comments within the royal family were either “definitely true” at 29%, or “probably true” at 41%. Only 17% said they were “probably false”, and a mere 9% reckoned they were “definitely false”. The final 4% said they “don’t know”.