Royals’ comments raise race issue in Commonwealth nations


In this Sept, 24, 2019, file photo, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, talks to children during a walkabout in Bo-Kaap, a heritage site, in Cape Town, South Africa. In countries with historic ties to Great Britain, allegations by Prince Harry and Meghan about racism within the royal family have raised questions about whether those nations want to be closely connected to Britain anymore after the couple’s interview with Oprah Winfrey. (Courtney Africa/Pool via AP, File)

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — In countries with historic ties to Britain, allegations by Prince Harry and Meghan that an unnamed member of the royal family had “concerns” over how dark their unborn baby’s skin might be have raised a thorny question: Do those nations really want to be so closely connected to Britain and its royal family anymore?

It was expected the interview would expose more rifts in the royal family. Now it seems to be risking divisions within the “family” of the Commonwealth — an association of 54 countries, most of them former British colonies, held together by historic ties. For decades, Queen Elizabeth II has been the driving force behind the Commonwealth.

After the TV interview, shown in the U.S. on the eve of Commonwealth Day, former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull cited it as another reason for the country to sever its constitutional ties to the British monarchy.

“After the end of the queen’s reign, that is the time for us to say: OK, we’ve passed that watershed,” Turnbull told Australian Broadcasting Corp. “Do we really want to have whoever happens to be the head of state, the king or queen of the U.K., automatically our head of state?”

The value of the Commonwealth has been debated before, with critics questioning if countries and people once colonized — and even oppressed — should remain in such an association with a former colonizer. Its stated aim is to improve international relations, but Britain’s relationship with the members has been clouded by diplomatic missteps and the legacy of empire. In a speech to mark Commonwealth Day on Monday, the queen spoke of “the spirit of unity.”.

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