The Duchess of Sussex’s allegation that concerns were raised with Prince Harry about the skin colour of their baby when she was pregnant will probably have been the most shocking for a US audience to hear, where discussion of colourism is widespread.
But experts in the UK argue the comments would also resonate deeply across the Atlantic. Though it is not recognised as such, colourism is a significant issue in the UK too, they said.
In the interview with Oprah Winfrey, which first aired in the US on Sunday, Meghan said conversations were had about how dark Archie’s skin might be when he was born. Meghan and Harry declined to say who expressed those concerns.
Aisha Phoenix, a researcher on colourism, Islam, and belonging at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, said: “Colourism in general is a taboo topic and until recently people haven’t wanted to talk about it in the UK. Beyond those who have experienced it, there wasn’t the recognition that it actually existed and there was no body of research to draw on. Because it hadn’t been researched, some people assumed that it wasn’t an issue.”
She said colourism had different histories in different parts of the world. “For the descendants of transatlantic slaves, it dates back to the preferential treatment given to the children of slaves and slave…