Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, have said the Commonwealth ‘must acknowledge’ its colonial past and role in slavery as it is crucial in moving forward and fighting racial injustice – even though it would not be easy.
The couple made those comments during a video conference discussion on justice and equal rights with leaders from the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust (QCT) from their Los Angeles home, The Guardian reports. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex serve as president and vice president of the trust. Their discussion comes in the wake of the ongoing protests against racial discrimination and calls for reform after the death of George Floyd in the United States.
Prince Harry, on the July 1 call, said: “When you look across the Commonwealth, there is no way that we can move forward unless we acknowledge the past.
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“So many people have done such an incredible job of acknowledging the past and trying to right those wrongs, but I think we all acknowledge there is so much more still to do. It’s not going to be easy and in some cases it’s not going to be comfortable but it needs to be done, because guess what, everybody benefits.”
Made up of 54 member countries in Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe and the Pacific, The Commonwealth, which is currently headed by Prince Harry’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, has its roots dating back to the British Empire.
The Duchess also said: “We’re going to have to be a little uncomfortable right now, because it’s only in pushing through that discomfort that we get to the other side of this and find the place where a high tide raises all ships. Equality does not put anyone on the back foot, it puts us all on the same footing – which is a fundamental human right.”
The Duke of Sussex also spoke extensively on unconscious bias and racism, saying: “We can’t deny or ignore the fact that all of us have been educated to see the world differently. However, once you start to realise that there is that bias there, then you need to acknowledge it, you need to do the work to become more aware … so that you can help stand up for something that is so wrong and should be acceptable in our society today.”
His wife also touched on scenarios where unconscious bias and racism thrives.
“It’s not just in the big moments, it’s in the quiet moments where racism and unconscious bias lies and thrives. It makes it confusing for a lot of people to understand the role that they play in that, both passively and actively.”
The couple, who have officially stepped back from royal duties after making the highly publicized announcement in January, have been vocal about their support for racial equality. Prince Harry, at a charity event last week in his deceased mother’s honor, said institutional racism was “endemic,” adding that they are “committed to being part of the solution.”
“My wife said recently that our generation and the ones before us, haven’t done enough to right the wrongs of the past,” he addressed the audience. “I too, am sorry. Sorry that we haven’t got the world to the place that you deserve it to be.
“Institutional racism has no place in our societies, yet it is still endemic. Unconscious bias must be acknowledged without blame to create a better world for all of you. I want you to know that we are committed to being part of the solution and to being part of the change that you are all leading.”