By Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha
It was Duchess Meghan Markle, the ‘alter-ego’ of now-deceased Lady Diana, the peoples’ princess who seemed to have succeeded in blowing open the cover of the House of Windsor on racism and racist thinking, in an explosive interview, poignantly hosted by mega-presenter Oprah Winfrey in faraway America, safe from the racist harassment of the British tabloids. Listening to her, I saw the spirit of Diana come alive, in a way to take a pound of flesh on how the latter was treated after she faithfully sired the stud heirs to the throne of the United Kingdom. Was it his mother’s spirit that attracted Prince Harry to the slightly older Meghan? A woman of African descent steeped in the free spirit and culture of the American world! An independent woman. Spontaneous. Calculating. Scheming. All this packed into a woman who had set her sight on conquering the heart of one of the heirs to the British monarchy.
Somehow, the stiff monarchy did not read Meghan correctly. Or what Meghan stood for. Just as they misjudged and underrated Lady Diana’s capacity to do havoc to the image of the House of Windsor. Of course, Meghan’s entry into the monarchy gave thumbs up to that old institution which some believe to be anachronistic and gluttonous in the light of contemporary realities. I remember the sarcastic Malcolm Muggeridge and his piquant essays on the monarchy, and how the Queen ought to pay taxes. Subject for another day, that is!
The image of Prince Charles leading Meghan down the aisle to hand her over to his son will forever be etched in my memory. Meghan’s father had become a problem, just wouldn’t keep his mouth shut about his daughter who had made gold marrying into one of the oldest and respected monarchies in the world.
Never mind that that monarchy stole wealth from Africa and Asia to build itself! Meghan played herself into the free-spirit heart of Lady Diana’s son. So, her entry into the monarchy increased hope on diversity, new narratives. Just as the Obama swearing-in especially in his first term, gave the world some hope that America had come of age, that race was being gradually dealt with, handled, in God’s own country. Alas, that hope was dashed by Obama himself because his enormous power could do nothing for the Black community or the African world. There was no Marshall Plan for the continent of his ancestry.
He left as he had come into the white House, ignored Nigeria, ignored Kenya. What did we expect him to do anyway? Build our roads? Well, he preached and campaigned for gay rights in Africa! But the fact that he occupied the White House was symbolic. And powerful, re-wrote the narrative. When Donald Trump the Bully took over, he made sure that he dismantled whatever gains America had made from the Obama years.
Racism! The Queen of England is head of the Commonwealth of Nations, an agglomeration of countries and nations with different skin colours and cultures that had been colonized by Britain. The African continent is the most colonised in the world, and naturally form the biggest bloc in the Commonwealth of Nations. Whenever the Queen is discussed, the ‘colonial mentality’ is still very much in place. African nations still hold the Queen in awe.
Yet, there is a suggestion that the British monarchy or the royal family is patently racist! How dark or light would the unborn child of Harry be? No title for him. Is this treatment for all the great grandchildren or Harry was singled out for being the black sheep of a white family?
To read from her grandson that racism persists in the House of Windsor is a setback, sort of, that is. To be sure, Her Majesty and her spouse were exonerated. But that questions about the skin colour of the then unborn child of Meghan were raised really disturbed Harry and Meghan. And I remember Soyinka’s satiric poem ‘Telephone Conversation! Britain has not really changed. Not changed at all.
On racism! Can the world ever be one, accepting the different races for what they are, knowing that skin colour is no big deal, that if the Queen were a Black woman, she would still be effective as a Queen, still eat the same type of food, use the rest room, and pooh like any white person. That she would probably be in abetter position to reunite the world. The skin colour does not determine the power of one’s intellect. Nor does it bestow any superiority on anybody. Skin pigmentation is the result of biological and social circumstances.
The British monarchy needs to reform, reinvent itself. As for those who claim that Meghan knew what the monarchy was before she entered, they should use the standard of that society to judge her actions., to judge the actions of the couple. Here was a bright, independent lady who married into the limelight, being asked to stay put when she needed help to overcome her mental health challenge. She even contemplated suicide! And that racist buffoon of British television Piers Morgan said he did not believe anything Meghan said!
The treatment given to Kate Middleton is different. In Nigeria, women remain in unhappy marriages to avoid stigmatization. ‘if this marriage breaks down what will people say? So, they stay on and suffer all forms of indignities. Is it not significant that they agreed to give up the free and easy life of royalty? Should they not be commended for their act of courage?
Whereas we can freely comment on the British monarchy and lampoon American leaders, we cannot freely do that in Nigeria, our home turf where a lot of terrible discriminatory policies, clannish decisions and selfish actions are taken at the expense of the national interest. If Meghan were to be Nigerian, she would stick it out and refuse to check out of the luxury of the House of Windsor because of the perks and name. Here those who want to check out of the unhealthy marriage that has become of Nigerian ethnic groups are threatened with brimstone and hell fire. It is not an even world, not even for the Windsors. The same applies to the monster yoke of nations they created during their years of plundering and stealing the wealth of Africa.
-Professor Eghagha can be reached on 08023220393 and email@example.com