Update, 24/12: Princess Michael of Kent has issued an apology after wearing a racist brooch to the Queen’s annual Christmas lunch.
A spokesman for the royal insisted that the princess “is very sorry and distressed that it has caused offence”.
The wife of the Queen’s cousin Prince Michael of Kent, sparked controversy after donning a piece of blackamoor jewellery to meet Meghan Markle.
Spokesman Simon Astaire added: “The brooch was a gift and has been worn many times before.”
Additional reporting from Harper’s BAZAAR UK
Original post, 23/12: When Meghan Markle attended the Queen’s Christmas luncheon yesterday at Buckingham Palace, she joined about 50 members of the royal family at the gathering, from Prince William and Kate Middleton, to Prince Harry‘s cousins Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice. And while the former actress mingled with extended members of her fiancé’s family, not all first impressions were pleasant.
Princess Michael of Kent—wife of Prince Michael of Kent, Queen Elizabeth II‘s first cousin—was spotted wearing a racially offensive brooch on her coat while arriving to the palace with her husband. The accessory is a piece of blackamoor jewelry, which fetishize images of slavery.
Some might argue that European renditions of blackamoor art depicted black figures as noblemen, but they still exoticize people of color and are considered dated, racially insensitive, and even taboo today. Dolce & Gabbana caused an uproar in 2012 when it included blackamoor heads on a pair of earrings and on fabric prints in its Spring 2013 collection.
It’s unclear whether the princess wore the brooch to intentionally make an offensive statement, or whether it was a clueless decision wear the tone-deaf accessory. But to wear it at all—especially at an event where a celebrated biracial duchess-to-be would attend—is simply inappropriate.
It would be easier to look the other way if the princess didn’t have history of racism—but she unfortunately does. In 2004, she reportedly told a group of black customers in a West Village, NYC restaurant to “go back to the colonies” after she complained that they were being noisy.
A few months later, the princess denied making any racial slur at the restaurant, but defended herself with even more tone-deaf comments. “I even pretended years ago to be an African, a half-caste African, but because of my light eyes I did not get away with it, but I dyed my hair black,” she said in an ITV interview. The princess added of her trip to Africa, “I had this adventure with these absolutely adorable, special people and to call me racist: it’s a knife through the heart because I really love these people.”
Eagle-eyed royal fans also noticed the brooch and called out the royal for wearing it at the luncheon.
ummm, did anyone else clock this? notorious racist princess michael of kent wearing a Moor broach while attending lunch with Meghan Markle. pic.twitter.com/Cd8E5gSmyX
— naptimus prime (@allisonkotzig) December 20, 2017
That looks inappropriate in any setting.
— 🕊Scout (@about_scout) December 21, 2017
Has no one noticed the Blackmoore pin that Princess Michael of Kent is wearing? Really? #MeghanMarkle offically meets the family and is greeted by THIS? #racism #BritishRoyals pic.twitter.com/o0BiaxdR9n
— 🙅🏾♀️Y a t e s (@girl_ninja) December 21, 2017
Ummm Princess Michael of Kent is rude AF https://t.co/difdfbZ8q5
— Monica Murphy (@MsMonicaMurphy) December 21, 2017
Princess Michael of Kent appears to have officially turned into a parody of herself as she attends The Queen's Christmas Party wearing a blackamoor brooch. pic.twitter.com/seOFhx1th7
— Charlie Proctor (@MonarchyUK) December 21, 2017
Last November, when Kensington Palace publicly confirmed that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were dating, he issued a statement condemning “the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments” about his now-fiancée. Princess Michael of Kent might want to give that letter a close read.
This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR US.
Related article: See BAZAAR’s Dream Wedding Dress Picks For Meghan Markle