The writer is chancellor of Coventry University and chair of Shakespeare’s Globe
Like many businesses in the UK, the royal family or “the firm” as it is known, has long faced diversity challenges.
On occasion, it has reacted well when faced with “difference”. Albert, Queen Victoria’s German husband, faced hostility for years from courtiers and public, but gradually changed attitudes by embarking on a series of good works and forcefully carving out a role for himself. The Battenberg family, of whom Prince Philip was a member, also changed its name, to Mountbatten, to sound less German following the war.
Some differences are not so easily dealt with. The law had to be changed to allow a female firstborn to be able to ascend to the throne, in case William and Catherine gave birth first to a girl. Similarly, an Act of Parliament would be required to accommodate the accession to the throne by a Catholic, since the Act of Settlement 1701 decreed that the throne was settled on a Protestant line from that time.
But while we can legislate for improved equality of treatment, laws cannot create an accepting environment. This is often true for any person of colour entering a business or even “the firm” — as shown by the allegations by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle of racism within the royal family. Nor can one expect that person to take it upon themselves to change the minds and attitudes of everyone else. It should not be their task as the problem…