Queen plans diversity drive: Royals will boost existing programmes as Harry and Meghan’s accusations of racism claims are blamed for ‘unproductive’ peace talks with William and Charles
- The Queen will be appointing a diversity tsar to modernise the Monarchy
- Palace will ‘seek independent views’ to help improve approach to diversity
- Move is part of a major drive encompassing Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Kensington Palace
The Queen is to appoint a diversity tsar to modernise the Monarchy, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
Sources say the proposed move is an acknowledgment that ‘more needs to be done’ to champion minorities’ rights and follows the explosive claims made by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex of institutional racism.
As part of a major drive encompassing Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Kensington Palace, aides will undertake a ‘listen and learn’ exercise over the coming weeks which will involve speaking to a range of businesses and individuals about how the Monarchy can improve representation.
Plans seen by this newspaper detail how the Palace will ‘seek independent views’ to help assess and improve the approach to diversity – including ethnic minorities, the disabled and the gay and trans communities.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex during their two-hour interview with Oprah Winfrey
The potential recruitment of a diversity chief to champion reform is also set out.
A Royal source said: ‘This is an issue which has been taken very seriously across the Households.
‘We have the policies, procedures and programmes in place but we haven’t seen the progress we would like and accept more needs to be done. We can always improve.
‘We are not afraid to look at new ways of approaching it. The work to do this has been under way for some time now and comes with the full support of the family.’
The project has been given fresh impetus as Harry and Meghan appear to step up their battle with the Royal Family over racism.
In their interview with Oprah Winfrey, they claimed a family member asked how dark their son Archie’s skin might be – although their accounts differed as to whether the alleged comment was made before or during pregnancy.
Ms Winfrey responded: ‘Because they were concerned that if he were too brown, that that would be a problem? Are you saying that?’
Meghan replied: ‘I wasn’t able to follow up with why, but if that’s the assumption you’re making, I think that feels like a pretty safe one.’
The Queen is to appoint a diversity tsar to modernise the Monarchy as part of a major drive encompassing Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Kensington Palace
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle attending the Commonwealth Day Service 2020
Prince Harry said racism had been a major factor in the couple’s decision to move to California.
Lawyers draft bully probe questions
A law firm brought in by Buckingham Palace to review the handling of claims that the Duchess of Sussex bullied staff is drafting questions to be sent to current and former employees.
The allegations – angrily denied by the Duchess –were made in October 2018 when Jason Knauf, then Meghan and Harry’s communications secretary, detailed his concerns in an email to Simon Case, then the Duke of Cambridge’s private secretary.
In the email, published this month by The Times, Mr Knauf wrote: ‘I am very concerned that the Duchess was able to bully two PAs out of the household… The treatment of [X, name redacted] was totally unacceptable… The Duchess seems intent on always having someone in her sights. She is bullying [Y] and seeking to undermine her confidence.’
A spokesman for the Sussexes said the couple were victims of a calculated smear campaign, adding that the Duchess was ‘saddened by this latest attack on her character, particularly as someone who has been the target of bullying herself’.
An independent law firm is assessing if ‘lessons can be learnt’ from the handling of the original complaint with aides past and present invited to contribute.
A Palace spokesman declined to comment, but a source said the public should not expect ‘a running commentary’ on the inquiry, which is unlikely to conclude until next year.
Ms Winfrey later conveyed that the alleged comment had not been made by either the Queen or the Duke of Edinburgh.
In a statement two days after the initial broadcast on the US TV network CBS, Buckingham Palace insisted it took the couple’s claims – particularly on race – ‘very seriously’, but pointedly added that ‘recollections may vary’, suggesting some allegations are disputed.
Prince William said later: ‘We are very much not a racist family.’ But The Mail on Sunday understands the issue of racism continues to sour the relationship between Harry, his father and his brother – and was the reason Gayle King, a US chat-show host and friend of Harry and Meghan, last week described recent phone calls between them as ‘not productive’.
It is understood that the Sussexes feel that while disputed allegations of bullying made against Meghan are the subject of an independent review ordered by the Palace, the claims of racism aren’t under formal investigation.
In an intervention criticised for reigniting the furore, Miss King last week said the Duchess has ‘documents to back up everything she said’, adding: ‘It’s frustrating for them to see that it’s a racial conversation about the Royal Family when all they wanted all along was for the Royals to intervene and tell the Press to stop with the unfair, inaccurate, false stories that definitely have a racial slant.’
Palace insiders emphasise the Royal Family’s strong track record of celebrating diversity, particularly through their support of hundreds of charities in Britain and throughout the Commonwealth.
Prince Charles has even faced criticism for championing diversity.
In 1994, there were critical headlines after he said he wanted to be ‘Defender of Faith’ rather than ‘Defender of the Faith’ when he ascends the throne and becomes head of the Church of England.
Prince William has repeatedly spoken out against racism, backing high-profile campaigns including those run by the FA.