Speaking during an interview for Channel 4, Sir Ken Olisa, the first black Lord-Lieutenant for London said the “hot topic” of racism had been discussed between himself and members of the royal family since the death of George Floyd, who was killed by police in the US in May 2020, sparking a historical wave of anti-racism protests across the globe under the banner of Black Lives Matter.
He said that the family cares “passionately” about removing racial “barriers” in the UK.
The comments come after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex accused the royal family of racism in their Oprah Winfrey interview earlier this year.
Sir Ken said: “I have discussed with the royal household this whole issue of race particularly in the last 12 months since the George Floyd incident.
“It’s a hot conversation topic. The question is what more can we do to bind society to remove these barriers.
“They [the royals] care passionately about making this one nation bound by the same values.”
Asked if the palace support BLM, Sir Ken said: “The answer is easily yes.”
In an explosive TV interview discussing why Prince Harry and Meghan Markle decided to step back as senior members of the British royal family in January 2020.
Meghan said an unnamed royal - not the Queen nor the Duke of Edinburgh - raised concerns with Harry about how dark their son Archie’s skin tone might be before he was born.
The couple also suggested racism could be a factor behind the decision to deny Archie, the first mixed-race great-grandchild of the Queen, security protection or the title of prince.
The Queen later issued a statement saying that the issues raised would be dealt with privately as a family, but that “some recollections may vary”, while the Duke of Cambridge defended the monarchy, saying “we’re very much not a racist family” soon after the interview aired.
However, Buckingham Palace did release a statement saying it is “not where it would like to be” regarding the diversity of its staff after figures showed its proportion of ethnic minority employees stands at just 8.5 per cent.
The Queen’s household also brought in a change to its Diversity Strategy in early 2020 - which pre-dates the Oprah interview - to one that actively emphasises the importance of inclusion.
The interview with Sir Ken will air on Channel 4’s Black To Front, a programme produced by an all-black presenting and reporting team, at 7pm on Friday night.
Sir Ken also told the programme that he had advised the Queen to visit Grenfell Tower - the site of the UK’s deadliest structural fire in decades - after it burned down in 2017.
He said: “I remember thinking as it all happened, it was quite scary, we didn’t know whether she would be booed or have things thrown at her etc and when she got out of the car all these people applauded.”
Additional reporting by Press Association
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