Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan promised to use their platform to be vocal about the issues closest to their hearts, and today, the couple made a rallying cry to people across Britain to fight against structural racism.
Writing in a candid editorial for the London-based Evening Standard newspaper on the first day of Black History Month U.K., the duke and duchess shared their concerns that young people of color will be held back for as long as the issue exists in the United Kingdom.
“For as long as structural racism exists, there will be generations of young people of color who do not start their lives with the same equality of opportunity as their white peers,” the Sussexes wrote. “And for as long as that continues, untapped potential will never get to be realized.”
They added, “For people of color and specifically for young Black Britons, the importance of representation in all parts of society, of seeing role models that share the same color skin as them, and seeing and reading stories of success and of hope from those who look like them, is absolutely vital in opening doors of opportunity.”
Harry also acknowledged his own privilege in an interview with the newspaper, speaking of the U.K.’s potential to be a better place if white people had a better understanding about life for those “of a different-colored skin.”
Talking to Evening Standard journalists Abbianca Makoni and Lizzie Edmonds from the couple’s California home, he explained, “You know, when you go in to 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?’ And 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, “It is not about pointing the finger, it is not about blame. I will be the first person to say, again, this is about learning. And about how we can make it better. I think it is a really exciting time in British culture and British history, and in world culture. This is a real moment that we should be grasping and actually celebrating. Because no one else has managed to do this before us.”
Harry also described his own “awakening” to the lack of opportunities for people from Black, Asian, and minority ethnic communities since he met Meghan in the summer of 2016. “I wasn’t aware of so many of the issues and so many of the problems within the U.K. and also globally as well,” he admitted. “I thought I did, but I didn’t.”
When there is the intention of just wanting community and just wanting the recognition of equality, then that is a beautiful thing.
—The Duchess of Sussex—
The interview was also a chance for the duchess to share her views on the recent Black Lives Matter protests, which have taken place on both sides of the Atlantic. “[They have been] inflammatory for a lot of people,” she said. “But when there is just peaceful protest and when there is the intention of just wanting community and just wanting the recognition of equality, then that is a beautiful thing. While it has been challenging for a lot of people certainly having to make this reckoning of historical significance that has got people to the place that they are, that is uncomfortable for people. We recognize that. It is uncomfortable for us.”
The Sussexes also helped curate a list of Black History Month Next Gen Trailblazers in the U.K., who have all been recognized for their efforts in challenging prejudice and “positive contributions” to British life. Names on the list, which had been nominated by the likes of writer and actor Michaela Coel and celebrated author Bernardine Evaristo, include founder of Gal-Den magazine Liv Little, radio presenter and activist Swarzy Macaly, cofounder of UK Black Pride Moud Goba, and anti-violence campaigner Amani Simpson. “This list is diverse and reflective of the breadth of impact felt throughout the U.K. by these inspiring individuals,” the couple wrote.
Harry is the first member of the royal family to acknowledge Black History Month in the U.K. this year—an event he hails as “a wonderful celebration” at a time when, he said, people should be using their own platforms “to start a conversation and introduce people to the Black community that are making a massive difference within their own communities and across the U.K. as a whole as well.”
The interview was also a peek into the couple’s happy new life in Santa Barbara, California, six months after officially stepping back as working members of the British royal family. “We are doing well,” Meghan smiled. “[Archie] is so good. We are very lucky with our little one. He is just so busy, he is all over the place. He keeps us on our toes. We are just so lucky.”
When asked if the couple have found it difficult not being able to travel to the U.K. to work with the charities and organizations close to them, Harry explained, “Everything has been through video, everything has been in a room, somewhere. Actually it doesn’t matter where in the world we have been, we have stayed in touch with and supported the organizations as much as humanly possible.”
Meghan added, “Everyone has been accustomed to what it means to be distanced. The impact of that, whether it is across the pond or across town, you are still for the most part through a computer screen. We have all had to adapt to how we can have the most impact as possible within the constraints of what has happening with COVID-19. Like all of you, we are doing the best that we can and hoping that our passion and our commitment is still felt as it certainly hasn’t wavered.”
This article originally appeared in Harper’s BAZAAR US.