While Meghan Markle and Prince Harry may be seen as heroes by some and villains by others, one thing the major royal biographies agree on is that the palace has a race problem.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were showered with praise find freedomby Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand.
Meanwhile Battle of the Brothersby Robert Lacey, described how Prince William was so fed up with Meghan mistreating Kensington Palace staff that he kicked his brother out of the common house.
Tina Brown says her own book Palace papers is considered too empathetic towards Meghan by her British audience and not empathetic enough by Americans.
However, there is one observation that unites the three books, which each took the media by storm, creating a tidal wave of headlines upon their release.
All three books portrayed the palace as having a problem when it came to race, and particularly in terms of a lack of diversity among the palace staff.
find freedom on Meghan Markle’s experience with the subtleties of racism in Britain
Scobie described his own experience with a Palace staff member in the opening pages of find freedom.
The book reads: “Racism in the UK takes a different form than in the US, but there is no doubt that it exists and how ingrained it is.
“A major theme of racism in the UK centers on who is genuinely ‘British’.
“It can come from subtle acts of bias, from microaggressions like the Palace staff member who told the biracial co-author of this book, ‘I didn’t expect you to talk the way you do. .”
As for the royals themselves, the book paints William as a snob and suggests that the family members were dismissive, but refrains from accusing any royals of racism.
He describes how the Duke of Cambridge upset Harry by telling him not to rush his relationship with Meghan and “get to know this girl”.
Scobie and Durand wrote: “In those last words, ‘that girl,’ Harry heard the tone of snobbery that was anathema to his approach to the world.
“During his 10-year career in the military, outside of the royal bubble, he had learned not to make snap judgments about people based on their accent, upbringing, ethnicity, their class or profession.”
He quotes a friend: “Harry could see through William’s words. He was a snob.”
Battle of the Brothers on the palate being too white
The accounts in Battle of the Brothers are much less flattering to Harry and Meghan than those of find freedom.
Lacey’s book outlines some difficult aspects of Harry and Meghan’s story, including allegations that Meghan bullied her staff.
A key dimension of the book that sets it apart is its account of Prince William kicking the couple out of the common house at Kensington Palace in anger over the accusations.
However, despite reflecting much of the palace’s point of view, the book portrays the royal household as too white.
Lacey wrote: “Diversity! Diversity! Meghan and Harry had delivered low blows by speaking to Oprah in a totally unfamiliar way, but their essential truth was impossible to erase.
“When Meghan had arrived at Buckingham Palace about three years earlier and walked down any hallway – or the hallway of any other palace – into any office, virtually every senior’s face officials she met were white.”
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Palace papers on How Racing Wasn’t Taken Seriously Enough
Tina Brown’s 571-page book again includes much of the Palace’s perspective on Meghan and Harry’s exit, portraying them as unstable and demanding.
However, a palace source conceded the royal household was too white, while Brown also recounts numerous instances of past racist comments from family members.
A source told Brown: “We didn’t take race seriously enough. There were hardly any black people working in the royal household or almost none in senior positions.”
Palace papers read: “That sorry fact alone has made them desensitized to negative coverage and commentary when viewed through the lens of race.”
Among its examples of royal racism, the book recounts comments made by Queen Elizabeth II’s sister, Princess Margaret, in 2000 about the monarch needing a vacation after a meeting of Commonwealth heads of government.
Margaret is quoted saying, “Every day a different blackamoor cries on her shoulder and you know, she’s so wonderful. She knows all their names.”
Of Prince Philip, Brown writes: “An uncomfortable number of his ‘blunders’ had a racial component that suggested they weren’t really blunders – that is, clumsy mistakes – but revelations of what he really thought.”
She cites as one of many examples a 2002 incident when Prince Philip asked an Australian Aborigine if he was “still throwing spears”.
Harry referred to a fellow Royal Sandhurst Military Academy cadet as his ‘p*** boyfriend’ while William threw an ‘Out of Africa’ themed birthday party, joking with a reporter: ‘A lot of people will ask if we’re actually going to eat crocodile, but obviously we won’t.”
Meanwhile, Prince Charles, the book says, gave the nickname “Sooty” to his polo friend of Punjabi descent, Kolin Dhillon.