“Never complain, never explain” is a familiar royal refrain. This is supposedly the motto they adhere to where the media is concerned – to rise above it, to not acknowledge, and this is what Prince Harry and Meghan Markle said they were told when they were targeted (and still are) by the British tabloids; palace leadership told them to just ignore it, grit through it, even though there were many occasions when the palace did, selectively, address inaccurate reports for other members of the family.
This week, The Guardian published a report on Buckingham Palace’s past hiring protocols, as filed documents reveal the “Queen’s ongoing exemption from race and sex discrimination laws”.
“The Queen’s courtiers banned “coloured immigrants or foreigners” from serving in clerical roles in the royal household until at least the late 1960s, according to newly discovered documents that will reignite the debate over the British royal family and race.
The documents also shed light on how Buckingham Palace negotiated controversial clauses – that remain in place to this day – exempting the Queen and her household from laws that prevent race and sex discrimination.
The papers were discovered at the National Archives as part of the Guardian’s ongoing investigation into the royal family’s use of an arcane parliamentary procedure, known as Queen’s consent, to secretly influence the content of British laws.”
This isn’t the first time the Queen’s consent has come up this year. I posted about it back in February when it was reported that the procedure may have been invoked to help the royal family obscure their wealth – which speaks to transparency, an issue that’s of paramount importance considering that the British royal family receives public funding. And in this case, the racial bias hiring details relate to a discussion that’s come up about racism in the royal family after what the Sussexes told Oprah during the Television Event of the Year.
All of these issues combined contribute to a bigger conversation about relevance of the monarchy, and whether or not in these times of intended progress this is a family that can actually keep the f-ck up. And/or whether or not they even want to.
Anyway, the people who “never complain, never explain” have now complained and explained.
A Buckingham Palace spokesperson has dismissed claims made by the @Guardian, pointing out that the royal household complies with the Equality Act in both principle and practice: pic.twitter.com/VVxBULUYkh— Omid Scobie (@scobie) June 3, 2021
Sure, but who really checks in on them? It’s not like they’re subject to inspection or review. Still, the fact that the royals are complaining and explaining means they’re feeling the heat. Although, naturally, they’re getting an assist from members of the royal rota, aka The Cartel (as Harry and Meghan call them) whose job it is to actually report on the British royal family but who haven’t given this story much attention – and it’s a story that speaks to the value of the royal family and its place a society that it claims to represent.
You know what the British royals are really good at though? Glamourising. And so, just as The Guardian’s story about the hiring practices inside the royal institution came out, Buckingham Palace released details about the Queen’s upcoming platinum jubilee next year. There’s going to a four-day long weekend in June 2022. A live concert is being planned. She’s going to the races. It’s going to be days and days of razzle dazzle to mark her 70th year as the monarch. So don’t look too closely at the colonial past of the family and how that might reflect on their contributions in the coming 70 years. All that matters is that everyone gets an extra few days off work and please enjoy the display of pomp and circumstance.