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To be given in marriage

What would be the point of a royal engagement without a Guardian article to miss it?

In celebration of the forthcoming nuptials of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Afua Hirsch writes,

Almost two decades ago, during the heady first months of the new millennium, an unruly baroness named Kate Gavron made a shocking suggestion. Prince Charles, she said, should have married someone black. It would be, she imagined, a powerful symbol of the monarchy’s commitment to racial integration and multiculturalism.

Gavron’s comments were not well received at the time. As is so often the case with race and the royals, far more interesting than these remarks themselves, were the media reactions to them. Some suspected this was merely a clandestine attempt at “getting rid” of the monarchy, erasing their heritage through interracial marriages. Not so much revolution, as racial dilution.

Others assumed that for the Prince of Wales to marry a “black girl” – as the hypothetical person was described – would be to return to the loveless, strategic marriages the royals were once so famous for. It was obvious to commentators at the time that marrying a black girl, and marrying someone you actually loved, were both antithetical and mutually exclusive. After all, you couldn’t expect an heir to the throne to actually be attracted to such a person.

Ever charitable, I had initially assumed that Ms Hirsch was too young to personally remember this furore, by which I actually mean briefly successful effort on the part of a few journalists to keep each other in work by pretending to be outraged at each other’s stories, and that was why she portrayed something that happened in the year 2000 as if it happened in the 1960s. But that cannot be the case. She was nineteen at the time it was published. Perhaps her observations were tinged with a wistful desire to re-enact the heroic days of the Civil Rights era. If so, perhaps I should be more charitable after all; seventeen years ago that sort of playacting was not less common than it is now but was more excusable.

Whatever. I too remember Baroness Gavron’s remarks and the reaction to them. The previous week a report had been released by the Runnymede Trust called The Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain. Lady Gavron was one of the authors. Unfortunately but inevitably the authors had received abusive hate mail from the sort of embittered nobodies who used to send hate mail to people they read about in the papers. (Nowadays we have Twitter for that.) But no, the reaction of the mainstream media to Lady Gavron’s remarks did not include talk of “racial dilution”. Note the absence of any names. All Ms Hirsch tells us is that “Some suspected” a clandestine attempt at getting rid of the monarchy through interracial marriages. Well, yeah, in a population of 56 million as it then was, some will suspect almost anything. But if a journalist on any publication other than National Front News had said any such thing they would have been out of a job the same day.

At this point the reader might be asking themselves why if it was all so trivial I am claiming to remember Lady Gavron’s remarks across seventeen years? To answer that let’s look again at this passage from Ms Hirsch’s article:

Others assumed that for the Prince of Wales to marry a “black girl” – as the hypothetical person was described – would be to return to the loveless, strategic marriages the royals were once so famous for. It was obvious to commentators at the time that marrying a black girl, and marrying someone you actually loved, were both antithetical and mutually exclusive.

As I remembered it the reason so many had assumed that Lady Gavron was advocating that Charles enter a loveless strategic marriage was not at all that they found the idea of a love match between two people of different race inconceivable. It was because Lady Gavron had advocated exactly that: a strategic royal marriage not for love but in order to send a message. Worse, she had said that it would have been “great” if Prince Charles had been told to marry someone for political reasons, with the assumption that once he had been given his orders on whom to marry he should obey them.

To be fair to her, Ms Hirsch does supply a link to a Telegraph article from October 2000 so that one cam see Lady Gavron’s exact words. Here is the link again:

Prince Charles ‘should have married black woman’

THE Prince of Wales should have married a black woman as a symbol of his support for multi-cultural Britain, according to a member of the race relations think tank the Runnymede Trust.

Lady Gavron, vice-chairman of the commission that produced last week’s controversial report on the future of multi-ethnic Britain, said the Royal Family should take a lead in promoting racial integration.

“It would have been great if Prince Charles had been told to marry someone black. Imagine what message that would have sent out,” she said yesterday.

It wasn’t someone black, and it may not have been phrased as a command, but Charles probably was pretty much told who to marry, and for reasons to do with what “message” his marriage would send. It did not work out well. One ancient royal tradition that all should be glad to see extinct is that of marriage as a tool of policy.

Of course no one in their right minds would insert such a mad device as the monarchy if they were designing a nation from scratch. It is a historical relic. But history is a powerful force, and this nation is not being started from scratch. I hope and believe the monarchy does still have a role, so long as people can be found willing to play it. I hope the whole royal wedding shebang goes off well and a good time is had by all. If Ms Markle being mixed race makes more people feel included in the celebration, that’s great. More importantly I wish Harry and Meghan a long and loving life together.

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42 comments to To be given in marriage

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    Apparently she has some African-American blood in her, somewhere. Does this mean all is forgiven re the slave trade? And will this make it easier to forge a UK-USA free trade deal?

  • bobby b

    “Of course no one in their right minds would insert such a mad device as the monarchy if they were designing a nation from scratch.”

    I’m not arguing in favor of a monarchy, but there are people who are in their right minds who do, strenuously. Even some people who come here at times.

  • Brian Swisher

    I’m not arguing in favor of a monarchy, but there are people who are in their right minds who do, strenuously. Even some people who come here at times.

    There was that Plato guy, with his misnamed Republic. Which serves as an excellent example of why we don’t let philosophers design our governments.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Natalie,

    “One ancient royal tradition that all should be glad to see extinct is that of marriage as a tool of policy.”

    Maybe so, but marriages of convenience, or at least in aid of ambition or the pursuit of status-power-glory-and-wealth, are found everywhere, else we wouldn’t have endless trashy novels (as well as very good novels, of course), and bloody-gawd-help-us soap operas. And what of such unions as that between the House of Clinton and the House of Rodham? Was there Love True Love there once upon a time? Fascination, maybe, but actual love? Seems unlikely….

    Rulers and their relations usually bear burdens of required conduct (although just who it is who sets the requirements and does the requiring varies) — they must “do the best they can by their countries/societies/people/tribes.” Of course, the issue of what it is best to do for one’s “people” takes a lot of thinking, and not every ruler is actually prepared to put the good of “his people” above his own ambitions and desires and the heck with a few useless Ukrainians, kulaks, Chinese malcontents, Jews, Poles, Iranians, Saudis, Iraqis, and tons of others who were just plain in the way, and entirely unnecessary, save by furthering the Cause by serving as examples.

    I don’t know that I’m going anywhere with this … just musing on the unlikelihood that marriage will ever be an arrangement always based on love between (I am old-fashioned on this — no polygamy in the House Near Rockford) the parties, or at least on mutual respect and fondness or liking or affection. Or on family ties (could I be thinking of the House of Saxe-Coburg? Prolly not).

  • jsallison

    Good luck to them.

  • James Strong

    I had BBC Radio 4 on yesterday. I was surprised at the amount of time given to discussing Ms Markle’s race.
    And I was saddened. Why does anyone care? In fact, does anyone care? Or is it only people well out to the right on the political spectrum who DON’T care about race?

  • Mr Ed

    It amazes me that anyone not a US citizen would marry a US citizen given the tyrannical filing requirements of US tax law, and worldwode taxation. Will the IRS be prowling by proxy through Prince Harry’s finances?

  • George

    Or is it only people well out to the right on the political spectrum who DON’T care about race?

    That would increasingly appear to be the case. (And I say that as somebody who is a great deal further to the ‘left’ than most of those who frequent this blog.)

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    jim jones,

    And your point is?

  • no one in their right minds would insert such a mad device as the monarchy if they were designing a nation from scratch.

    I have two distinct points, depending on what Natalie meant by this.

    1) If she meant that noone having the ability to do so would insert such a device”:

    Au contraire, that’s exactly what they would do if they were designing a nation from scratch – or after the downfall of a once-republic, such as the Roman Empire. It is instructive and impressive to see how rationally and informedly nervous the founding fathers were about creating a republic, their awareness that “Democracies have generally been short in their lives and violent in their deaths”, their knowledge that past republics had shown a marked tendency to either disintegrate or become monarchies, etc.

    It was the long evolution of English political experience under our monarchy that created the ideas that powered both the US constitution and our own later evolution – and the political community that could live them! This experience included episodes of resisting monarchical power – but we on this blog do not doubt that people should be prepared to resist their government, do we? It is precisely the greatest admirers of the US constitution who defend most ardently their right to have guns in part to resist their own republican state if they ever need to.

    The most recent occasion I can think of when the monarch has had a direct specific influence is when George VI may have determined that Churchill, not Halifax, become prime minister in 1940. We forget now that Churchill was not liked by either the Tory or Labour party establishments (or the Liberal one, though that party mattered less by then).

    Having a monarchy of today’s style is like having an insurance policy. The deductibles are high (i.e. our politicians get advised and warned by the monarch but can ignore it), so it seems to be doing little for you in ordinary day-to-day government, and one never knows whether, when a crisis comes, it will in fact meet the unpredictable bill, but it would remain worth paying the premiums even if there were any – in fact, conveniently, this particular insurance policy pays for itself in tourism and spectacle – and the ability to treat the PM as practical head of government, not also as symbolic head of state.

    2) If she meant that “no-one could insert” such a device”:

    This is Burke’s point: “It is far easier to add elements of republicanism to a monarchy that it is to add elements of monarchy to a republic.” Only history that no-one exactly chose can viably give you a monarchy. The Dutch republic’s monarchy grew from their repeated experience of needing the House of Orange for their liberties to survive powerful enemies. Monarchy is not a thing you can design into any scheme. (The nearest I know – and it’s still very far from it, plus being mostly history – was the bastard monarchy that Augustus designed for the Roman empire, but that was a classic case of a republic dying, very much the opposite of constitutionalism growing under the umbrella of a monarchy. Whether the Roman empire would have been better off with a true monarchy than with the ‘any general can become emperor’ that it got is debatable, and anyway it is hard to see how any such could have arisen from such a conglomerate.)

    BTW, in point (1), I mentioned “the political community that could live them.” This too is something you need to get from history, cannot just “insert” into the design of a state, and which a monarchic history can be better at giving you than alternatives.

    [My Burke quote is from memory. Burke notes with amusement that he is echoing Bolingbroke, a writer he otherwise mostly despises.]

  • Paul Marks

    The fact that the Guardian exists, in all its vileness, is a “tribute” to the education system and its Frankfurt School of Marxism obsessions – but the fact that circulation of the Guardian is so small is a sign that PERHAPS some people (such as myself) overestimate the power of the Frankfurt School of Marxism.

    As for the “Civil Rights era of the 1960s” there were no anti “black” laws in the United Kingdom in the 1960s – so no legitimate targets for the Race Relations Act of 1965 in the United Kingdom. Unless one considers attacking both Freedom of Association and Freedom of Speech to be a legitimate move. I would remind people who do consider attacking Freedom of Association and Freedom of Speech to be legitimate that the test of support for liberty is NOT supporting people who behave in a way one approves of “Jews welcome in my shop – in you come”, but supporting liberty (freedom of choice) for people who do NOT behave in a way one approves of – for example people who say “no Jews in my shop – stay out”.

    As for the United States – actually even there most States did not have functioning anti “black” laws in the 1960s, although some DID (yes indeed – a minority of States still had them, and such “Jim Crow” laws should be CONDEMNED just as “anti discrimination” laws should be condemned, they are two sides of the same debased coin).

    I was reading the other day of the Governor of Michigan, the Republican Progressive George Romney (the father of “Mitt” Romney the father of “Romneycare” in Massachusetts which depends on vast Federal subsidies under the Obamacare Act).

    Republican Governor Romney of Michigan in the 1960s, like the Democrat Mayor of Detroit, vastly increased government spending on health, education, welfare, “infrastructure”, and so on – this (for some reason) was supposed to make “black” people happy. I doubt such things as the Detroit Riot of 1967 were a sign of happiness – nor the endless “Hell Nights” where young men burned buildings chanting “burn baby burn” (perhaps the Guardian writers would have liked to have been inside the burning buildings – to atone for their crime of “whiteness”).

    Governor Romney later became the Housing and Human Development Secretary under President Nixon (yes I know the Federal government has no Constitutional power to spend money on housing and so on, outside military bases and the Washington D.C. area, – but the Constitution of the United States was ripped up in the 1930s) – he encountered “white” people (mostly “working class” people if that matters to the Guardian) SOME of whom had fled Detroit (because they did not desire to be burned) and lived in a suburb outside it. George Romney suggested that the Federal Government use taxpayer money to forcibly settle “black” people in the suburb against the will of the people already living there – his idea got a somewhat hostile reception. I am very sorry if the truth about the “Civil Rights” era upsets anyone – but I have been moderate, after all I have not, in this comment, told the truth about the Rev. Dr Martin Luther King Jr, even though the files containing the truth are no longer secret.

    As for the marriage of His Royal Highness Prince Harry and Miss Meghan Markle – I regard the skin colour of Meghan Markle to be UTTERLY IRRELEVANT, and I wish the couple every happiness.

  • Paul Marks

    I am well aware of the arguments of the late Emperor Diocletian (and other Romans before him) that a business is a “public” (meaning state) matter because it is “open to the public” – hence his price controls and so on.

    And I am also aware of the argument of the late Mr J.S. Mill that regulating sellers (such as shop keepers) is a fundamentally different matter than regulating buyers. That it is not a violation of liberty (in the sense that “On Liberty” defines liberty) to order sellers (although not buyers) about. For example, as a modern “liberal” (but perhaps not the late Mr Mill himself) would say – it would be a violation of liberty to make someone go to a baker and buy a cake, but it is NOT a violation of liberty to make a baker sell cakes to anyone who enters his shop even if he does not like the would-be customer.

    I am aware of the arguments of the late Emperor Diocletian and the late Mr J.S. Mill – but I utterly REJECT their position.

  • Depending on how finely we subdivide humans into races, and whether we use a “one drop” rule, we could all be considered multi-racial. People like Alexander or Genghis Khan, who went romping across the world with armies, probably helped. The Vikings were doing their own part, though in a less coordinated manner. With world trade (including people) for the last half a millennium, we all have a decent chance of an unexpected ancestor popping up in our genealogies.

    It’s the culture we were raised in that counts. Monarchies are just a facet of some cultures. We start with warlords or Big Men, and work our way up. For some definitions of “up”.

  • I honestly had no idea Miss Markle was of mixed race, and I’ve seen enough photos of her. She looks more Italian than anything, IMO.

  • Korblimee

    Ah well Brexit will be pushed off the front pages for a while by some posh boy getting hitched in an expensive ceremony which we will be paying for but are not allowed to attend. 😕

  • John B

    ‘f course no one in their right minds would insert such a mad device as the monarchy if they were designing a nation from scratch.’

    No because a ‘designed’ nation, would be ruled by its designer aka dictator who certainly would not want competition to their dictatorial rule.

  • Alisa

    Tim has a point. I know her from “Suits” where her character is half-black, and that was not a tough sell. But I could have just as easily taken her for an Asian, among other things.

  • I am told Prince Harry is going to marry some bleeding heart leftie Yank apparently. Whatever.

  • Anonymous Coward

    From the linked article: “One of the problems with the discourse in Britain today is the tendency to downplay racial difference, and the temptation of so many well-meaning people who ?don?t see race? to believe that if we can all just wilfully blind ourselves, it will hopefully go away.”

    Clearly I don’t understand the rules any more and should just hand myself in to the police.

  • Mr Ed

    ‘We’, by which I mean ‘society’, by which I mean ‘the guilty who should do as I say’ would really be making ‘progress’ if Prince Harry were marrying a man, so that will be the suggestion (OK, demand) of the softer Left. Mind you, Prince Andrew is available if the stigma of divorce is not too great.

    Blimey these ‘Guardian Glasses’ are a bit strong. Ah, I see the world as it is again now.

  • Michael Jennings

    Men find Black women very unattractive:

    In my personal experience of what I find attractive, that’s not true at all.

    I honestly had no idea Miss Markle was of mixed race, and I’ve seen enough photos of her. She looks more Italian than anything, IMO.

    That was my experience, too. I described her as “white” in the office this morning, and it was explained to me that she was “mixed race”, whatever that means.

  • bobby b

    The polyamorous, the homosexuals, and the zoophilists are going to be offended. He needs to add a man, a black woman, and several sheep to the ceremony if he wishes to avoid controversy.

  • Michael Jennings

    He needs to add a man, a black woman, and several sheep to the ceremony if he wishes to avoid controversy.

    Honestly, that would improve the monarchy considerably.

  • Mr Ed

    BTW folks, there is no such thing as ‘Royalty’. There’s only this pretend thing, sometimes with some very real force behind it, but it’s all make-believe. There is no scientific test to show that someone is ‘royal’, ‘noble’ or ‘common’. There’s long strings of GATC in our DNA in billions of combinations, and we are all human, even if we read The Guardian.

    And the same goes for Presidents, and the State itself. It’s just people acting. It’s not that the Emperor has no clothes, the ‘no clothes’ have no Emperor, that’s what the crowd missed.

    Have you not noticed how often Lefties like honours? They think that the State conferring them shows that the recipient is one of our betters. Very few reject honours on the basis that they are imaginary, they profess that honours are wrong, by which they mean that they don’t elevate the recipient highly enough, to Divine Ruler status.

  • RAB

    Quite right Mr Ed. When someone offends me by saying something like… Ah, I come from a very old family you know! I usually reply… well so do I sunshine, or I wouldn’t be stood here talking to you now, would I? It’s just that my lot don’t have the paperwork to hand.

  • Alisa

    and we are all human, even if we read The Guardian

    That’s some of the most depressing aspects of the whole deal…

  • Mr Ed

    RAB

    paperwork.

    Vellum, or papyrus, thank you. 😀

  • pete

    The Guardian seems to be very pleased at the news of this royal engagement with lots of gushing coverage.

    It’s nice that its staff now have a wedding to look forward to, something to take their minds off Brexit, Trump and London house prices being too high for middle class youngsters.

  • AlexB

    Anonymous Coward
    November 28, 2017 at 4:25 pm
    From the linked article: “One of the problems with the discourse in Britain today is the tendency to downplay racial difference, and the temptation of so many well-meaning people who ?don?t see race? to believe that if we can all just wilfully blind ourselves, it will hopefully go away.”

    Clearly I don’t understand the rules any more and should just hand myself in to the police.

    Basically, we’re not following the narrative, so we’re a problem. Which is silly, because the narrative says we’re the problem. So we are still a problem, just for all the wrong reasons.

  • Vinegar Joe

    Yeah…….I can see Lady Leshurr with Prince Charles.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yyZBLvLDFE

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    Gosh, Royalty is letting its’ standards slip! First a Dane marries an Aussie (Princess Mary of Denmark, now), and then a British Royal marries an American! Where can one look for pure bloodlines these days?

  • David

    Where can one look for pure bloodlines these days?

    My Cavalier King Charles Spaniels Nicholas. Pedigree papers which stretch back into [Dog] antiquity.

    As for a Monarchy. I am all for the idea as it keeps idiot politicians away from the position of Head of State. Despite many failings and stuff ups it has served the Commonwealth well.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    I was thinking House Slytherin, but you’re probably right.

  • Eric

    Honestly, that would improve the monarchy considerably.

    Anyone with normal sized ears will improve the monarchy.

  • Major-General Harrison

    I find the naiveté here astonishing.

    A member of the royal family is marrying whoever he is told to marry for the usual sort of reasons. The exact specification of the marryee is immaterial as the poor fool would marry a dalek if ordered to.

    This represents no change whatever from the position regarding the prince of Wales some decades ago. The queen demanded that Charles marry someone with impeccable gynaecological credentials and no trace of scandal, so ‘Sucker Spencer’ got the job.

    The whole absurd circus is there to attract tourist revenue and to keep the proles in line – monarchists would die for the queen, whereas they might not even belch for the prime minister of the day.

    Time to consign the expensive and embarrassing farrago to the dustbin of history where it belongs, along perhaps with its American equivalent.

  • From the connected article: “One of the issues with the talk in Britain today is the propensity to make light of racial contrast, and the enticement of such a significant number of good natured individuals who ?don?t see race? to trust that on the off chance that we would all be able to simply wilfully daze ourselves, it will ideally leave.” http://www.gurgaoncompanion.com

    Unmistakably I don’t comprehend the standards any more and should simply hand myself in to the police.

  • Thailover

    “It would have been great if Prince Charles had been told to marry someone black. Imagine what message that would have sent out,”

    That Leftists consider politcal posturing more important than their own pro-slavery and racist worldview?

  • Thailover

    Maybe Harry should be “told” to marry RuPaul. Imagine what message THAT would have sent out.

  • Alisa

    Wonder no more, all explained here.

  • lucklucky

    Lucky Prince Charles he was not told to marry a man to send a message…

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