Welcome to Eureka Street

back to site


A legacy worth leaving

  • 18 March 2021
‘Attacking the Queen is like attacking our grandmother’, one social media user said as I scrolled through the pandemonium surrounding Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s interview with Oprah. Another user echoed my thoughts, writing, ‘imagine comparing your nan to someone who doesn’t even know you exist.’

While I agreed, I couldn’t help but think, ‘not me. Queen Elizabeth knows I exist, because I’ve met her.’ I gave flowers to the Queen in 2000 in Launceston, Tasmania. It was a stressful affair that at one point I refused to go through with. When it did come down to giving the bouquet of flowers to the Queen, I was relieved to pass on my burden. She was a little surprised and said thank you. Her wide-eyed expression was something I can only put down to seeing a black face in the sea of so many white. From that point onwards I had a ‘special’ connection to the British Monarchy. For a fleeting moment in time, the Queen knew I existed.

And this fondness was founded on more than a single moment. I was born in a Commonwealth country, Kenya and moved to another, Australia. I have family that settled in the UK. My first ever overseas trip from Australia was to London to visit them. British rule and influence have followed me across the world, putting a very real spin on ‘the empire the sun never sets on’.

And yet I never had to confront the idea that the British monarchy — and the British Empire at large — was built on racist principles and benefitted from racist practices. Not until it came from the mouth of one of the Royal family’s favourite iconoclasts, Meghan Markle.

I must admit, prior to Meghan’s interview with Oprah, I didn’t think too highly of her. I believed a part of what the British tabloids were publishing about her: that rather than motivated by love, she had some kind ulterior motive in marrying Harry and that she was calculated.

Still, despite any reservations I had about Meghan, I was overjoyed by the prospect of a Black royal. I was in London during the historic union of Meghan and Harry, and I felt the undeniable sense that British Monarchy were becoming ‘modern’, progressive and inclusive; that the oldest and most distinguished institution in Britain was proudly marching in lock-step with its multicultural pluralist subjects in welcoming faces of other colours into the