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British activist Nigel Farage insists nobody in ‘History’ has done more for people of colour than British royalty: Here’s why he is patently wrong

Nigel's statements shielding the palace from the charges of racism suggest that there is a sizeable constituency in Britain who still think that its imperial rule was an uplifting and edifying experience for its colonial subjects.

Meghan Markle kicked up a massive storm this week with her stunning revelations in an extraordinary interview with Oprah Winfrey. Markle confided that her life as a member of the British royal member had become so desolate that she contemplated suicide. She also accused the British royalty of indulging in racism, claiming that some of them expressed concerns about how dark the colour of the baby’s skin would be.

Shedding light on the couple’s dramatic exit from the royal life, Meghan said she was refused help during her mental health crisis, was targeted by falsehoods, and that there was official concern regarding the skin colour of her unborn son. 

“In those months when I was pregnant… we have in tandem the conversation of ‘he won’t be given security, he’s not going to be given a title’ and also concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born,” Meghan told Winfrey.

The British royal family has found itself mired in this raging storm after Meghan accused them of racism. On Tuesday this week, two days after the interview was telecasted, Buckingham Palace, in a statement on behalf of the Queen and the Royal Family issued a statement that they are “saddened” to learn about how challenging the last few years have been for Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle. The statement also termed the allegations of racism as “concerning” and assured that they were being taken “seriously” by the monarchy.

Nevertheless, the anodyne statements issued by the British Royalty did little to quell the raging accusations of racism being levelled against them. In fact, the allegations of racism by Markle only brought to fore the structural racism within the monarchy since its colonial days.

Meghan’s ordeal underscores the rampant racism practised by the Britishers since its imperial days. Be it the subjugation of its subjects in the Caribbean, Africa or South Asia, or the slave business of people of colour, history is a testament to the racial discrimination of the British empire, which was presided over by the royal family. The questioning of the potential darkness of Meghan’s son’s skin colour is a legacy of racism that was at its peak during the imperial rule of the British over the Commonwealth countries.

With allegations of racism being alleged against the British royal family, several monarchy apologists and sympathisers rushed in their defence, proffering specious arguments to defend the family from charges of racial discrimination. Many others went to the extent of exalting the family of being the biggest benefactor of the people of colour.

Nigel Paul Farage, a British activist, political commentator, broadcaster and former politician, in a recent interview, not only whitewashed the racist legacy of Britain’s monarchy but also patronisingly asserted that nobody in history has done more for the people of colour than the British royal family.

The wild and delusional claim was tossed out by Nigel Farage at a Newsmax appearance on Wednesday night.

Speaking at the program, Nigel tried to discredit Meghan by raising questions on the assertions made by her. “I don’t for one moment want to downplay the importance of mental health as an issue, but equally we cannot have people claiming mental health issues as a means of closing down debate. She looked very in control of the interview to me,” Farage said.

After rebuking Meghan and her husband for “tarnishing the reputation of the UK in the world”, Farage went on to tackle the issue of racism alleged by the couple.

“The Queen and the royal family have spent the last seventy years touring around the commonwealth,” Nigel said, adding, “The vast majority of those people are Black and Asian.”

He continued, “I would put it to you that nobody in the world, in history, has done more for people of colour than the British royal family.”

Nigel’s remarks elicited sharp reactions on social media, where people slammed him for defending the racial inequities by the British royal family. One user said white folks don’t get to determine who has done what for people of colour.

Several others rubbished the claims made by Nigel, reminding him of Britain’s colonial history.

“Hey, Nigel. How did those countries end up in the Commonwealth?” asked Barry Malone, executive producer of Al Jazeera’s The Stream.

The racial reckoning of the UK’s royal family led many apologists to defend the monarchy. Those who rushed in the defence of the UK’s regal family resorted to hackneyed assertions that glossed over the atrocities committed by the British rule and exaggerated the British royal family’s contribution towards civilising and imparting the western liberal ideals to its subjects.

Nigel appeared to defend the palace by offering a feeble argument that the royal family could not be accused of racism because they have spent the last seventy years touring around the commonwealth, the countries which were earlier ruled by the Britishers. What Nigel seems to suggest here is that the 70 years of touring by the royal family is enough to condone the centuries of depredations by the British of their colonial subjects, most of whom were people of colour.

Perhaps, for Nigel and his ilk, Britain’s long and agonising history of brutal colonialism and slavery should be seen as a generous deed by the people of colour, especially in countries occupied by Britain. Nigel’s remarks also echo the views held by apologists of British imperialism, who argue that Britain’s mission of colonisation had a civilising influence on its subjects.

Apologists of the British imperial regime have long held that the British brought—democracy, the rule of law, infrastructural development—the touchstones of modern fulfilment that would have not been possible if it were not for the British rule. They conveniently brush under the carpet, the enduring oppression, the systematic torture, the financial exploitation and the slavery that accompanied their rule.

Britain’s exploitation of its colonial subjects, most of whom were people of colour

India, for instance, contributed about 25 per cent of the global GDP in the eighteenth century when the British were gradually expanding their control over the country. By the time they left the country in 1947, India’s contribution to the world GDP was just under 1 per cent. Besides the financial exploitation, Indians were tortured, killed, simply for demanding their rights. Even those Indians who chose to work for the British were not accorded the same respect and designations as were offered to their equally qualified British counterparts. If this isn’t racism, then what it is?

The Bengal famine in 1943 was perhaps the one in modern Indian history to not occur as a result of serious drought. It is widely documented that the Churchill-era British policies played a significant factor in contributing to the catastrophe that killed millions in its wake. According to Indian politician Shashi Tharoor, Churchill diverted food rations to the imperial army fighting World War II, even though they had sufficient stocks of ration stored. As a result, millions of people died of starvation in Bengal. When Churchill was informed about the devastation, he crassly remarked, if the shortages were so bad, why was Mahatma Gandhi still alive.

These are but a few instances of racism institutionalised and practised by the British rulers in the countries they ruled. There are similar horrifying stories of slave trading in Africa, where the British indulged in indentured labours, exporting the African natives to its colonies in the Americas and Europe.

Nigel’s statements shielding the palace from the charges of racism suggest that there is a sizeable constituency in Britain who still think that its imperial rule was an uplifting and edifying experience for its colonial subjects. It is time that this constituency is made aware of the fact that Britain has presided over the worst form of racism in the last two centuries. By citing leisurely tours undertaken by the royal family in pillaged countries, Nigel and his ilk cannot draw a veil over Britain’s problematic past that is steeped in racism.

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Jinit Jain
Engineer. Writer. Learner.

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