Prince Harry has described his “awakening” to the existence of systemic racism, saying “the world that we know has been created by White people for White people.”
Harry said he has only recently recognized the full extent of racism in everyday life, telling the UK’s Evening Standard newspaper: “I’ve had an awakening as such of my own, because I wasn’t aware of so many of the issues and so many of the problems within the UK, but also globally as well. I thought I did but I didn’t.”
Harry and his wife, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex were talking to the paper from their home in California at the start of Black History Month, which is marked every October in Britain.
“When you go into a shop with your children and you only see White dolls, do you even think, ‘that’s weird, there is not a Black doll there?’” Harry said.
“I use that as just one example of where we as White people don’t always have the awareness of what it must be like for someone else of a different colored skin, of a Black skin, to be in the same situation as we are, where the world that we know has been created by White people for White people,” he added.
Meghan also praised the Black Lives Matter movement for promoting a conversation about racism in the US and worldwide. “That’s uncomfortable for people, and we recognize that. That’s uncomfortable for us,” she admitted, before adding that the movement “shouldn’t be inflammatory at all, (it) should be really exciting, actually.”
The couple unveiled a list of British “Trailblazers” with the newspaper, highlighting a number of prominent Black Britons, including Book Prize-winning author Bernardine Evaristo and Olympic boxer Nicola Adams.
Harry is sixth in line to the British throne, but the decision he and Meghan made in January to essentially retire from the royal family and move to the US sent tremors through the UK’s most recognizable institution.
Since stepping aside from royal duties, the duke and duchess have been more outspoken about issues such as racism and the legacy of empire. Earlier this year, the pair encouraged the UK to reckon with its colonial past, highlighting the “wrongs” of its historic involvement in the countries that now make up the Commonwealth.
“When you look across the Commonwealth, there is no way that we can move forward unless we acknowledge the past,” Harry said in July. “It’s not going to be easy and in some cases it’s not going to be comfortable but it needs to be done, because, guess what: Everybody benefits.”