My granddad refuses to meet my mixed-race son. Meghan's racism claims don't surprise me

Wednesday, 10 March 2021 09:57 GMT

Prince Harry and Meghan, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, give an interview to Oprah Winfrey in this undated handout photo. Harpo Productions/Joe Pugliese/Handout via REUTERS

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Conversations by the royal family about the skin colour of Prince Harry and Meghan's baby was not at all surprising for lawyer Kate, who is raising a mixed-race toddler

By Lin Taylor

LONDON, Mar 10 (Openly) - Watching Meghan, wife of Prince Harry, accuse Britain's royal family of raising concerns about the colour of her unborn son's skin might have shocked some viewers, but the comments were all too familiar to 32-year-old London lawyer Kate, who faced similar questions from her own family.

While most of Kate's relatives were supportive of her West African fiance, choosing to marry him was enough for her grandfather to cut ties with her - neither attending the wedding nor acknowledging her mixed-race toddler to this day.

Kate, who withheld her real name, said it was not something she ever wants to discuss with her husband's family for fear of upsetting them or validating her grandfather's views.

She told correspondent Lin Taylor her family's story.

My granddad refused to attend my wedding and we don't speak anymore. I don't think my husband's family realised the full extent of how bad my family have been. I've not really talked about it with them. They don't really know.

So much of this goes on behind closed doors. It's probably much worse than the way Meghan describes it.

The royal family is a figurehead of a country that had a terrible impact on the world. The empire wouldn't have existed if it weren't for a bunch of stuffy white Brits thinking that they're better than everybody else so why would that suddenly stop within a few generations in the royal family?

I wasn't surprised at all when I read about it.

I introduced my husband to my family before I met his. My immediate family were their usual welcoming selves.

When I brought him to my grandma's, my cousin, who had already met him, was there too. My grandma stopped her in the hallway and said to her,"He seems very nice. He talks like us. I guess he even probably thinks like us."

This is the first time, in her 90 or so years, that she had met someone with a different skin colour to her own. She was ignorant, but in a naive and sweet way. She was interested in him, got to know him. She's been wonderful - loves him, loves her great-grandson.

My husband's family were quite interested in how two people from such different families could be so similar. The answer to that, which they cottoned on to fairly early on, was we both have quite similar values.

When we were engaged, my grandfather sent me an email saying that he was disappointed.

He wrote: "You probably know my views on mixed-race marriages and I'm very sorry to hear about your choice of a future husband. Presumably, you would have considered the possibility of bringing mixed-race babies into the world in due course. Is that really what you want in the long term?"

And I said, "Why? Is it about his race? Is it about where he's from, you know he's British?"

The response was some sweeping generalisations from my granddad. I got back to him and said, "You're still invited to the wedding if you want to come."

He responded with: "There's a lot more that I could write to you but it's pointless for me to do so. You won't change my views. I'm sure you'd understand if I don't turn up."

I was upset. I was disappointed. I thought that our relationship was such that he would understand my position, that he would want what was best for me and be able to see that marrying someone who loves and cares for me is exactly that.

He's never met his great-grandson. He refuses to be interested in him.

The sad thing is that my grandma would love see more of her great-grandson. But she doesn't because when I visit, I will never take him to their house. I would never put him in a room with someone who thinks he is a second-class citizen.

And it's sad for my mum because she would want to share photos and talk about her grandson, but my grandad would interrupt or grumble.

The world, our country, is still a pretty racist place and people will have these views - whether they're behind closed doors or now aired on Oprah, I think they're really common.

I do hope that within a generation or two, people won't be saying those things about unborn children. They'll just be saying, "I'm delighted."

I think Meghan and Harry talking about it, and others too, is opening up what's happening behind closed doors and prompting discussions. It's probably a significant step.

Wouldn't it be nice when we're a generation down the line and we're the parents and our children are bringing someone home and we're like, "Lovely, nice to meet you".

This interview has been edited for clarity

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