Story at a glance
- The front-page cartoon published Saturday shows an evil-looking Queen Elizabeth kneeling on the neck of the Duchess of Sussex under the title “Why Meghan quit.”
- Meghan is shown saying, “Because I couldn’t breathe anymore!”
- The cartoon was the provocative magazine’s response to last week’s interview Meghan and Prince Harry did with Oprah Winfrey.
French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo is facing backlash over the cover of its latest issue, which depicts Queen Elizabeth II kneeling on the neck of Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, in reference to the death of George Floyd at the hands of police.
The front-page cartoon published Saturday shows an evil-looking Elizabeth kneeling on the neck of the Duchess of Sussex under the title “Why Meghan quit.” Meghan is shown saying, “Because I couldn’t breathe anymore!”
Pourquoi Meghan a quitté Buckingham ?
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En vente demain ! pic.twitter.com/X7hJHKHPDx
— Charlie Hebdo (@Charlie_Hebdo_) March 9, 2021
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The image and phrases are references to the police killing of George Floyd in May.
Floyd, a Black man, died last year after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest, in which Floyd’s last words were “I can’t breathe.” Video of the incident kicked off a racial reckoning in the U.S. and sparked widespread protests against racial injustice and police brutality that reached around the world.
The cartoon was the provocative magazine’s response to last week’s interview Meghan and Prince Harry did with Oprah Winfrey.
During the interview, Meghan shared that an unnamed member of the royal family had expressed “concerns” about the skin color of the couple’s baby. The remark was not made by the queen or her husband, Prince Philip.
Meghan also described the loneliness and isolation she felt as a British royal, explaining that at one point she thought, “I just didn’t want to be alive anymore.”
The cartoon was predictably criticized by social media users who called it racist and “utterly disgusting,” while others defended the magazine’s right to publish the cartoon and criticize the queen.
“This is wrong on every level,” Halima Begum, the chief executive of Runnymede, a British think tank focused on racial equality, tweeted.
#CharlieHebdo, this is wrong on every level. The Queen as #GeorgeFloyd‘s murderer crushing Meghan’s neck? #Meghan saying she’s unable to breathe? This doesnt push boundaries, make anyone laugh or challenge #racism. It demeans the issues & causes offence, across the board. pic.twitter.com/ptNXs8RtuS
— Dr Halima Begum (@Halima_Begum) March 13, 2021
Begum said the cover does not push boundaries but demeans the issues and causes offense “across the board.”
The magazine has been published for more than five decades and has acquired a reputation for its controversial cartoons.
In 2015, the weekly newspaper became the target of a terrorist attack after publishing satirical cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. Two Muslim brothers opened fire at the magazine’s offices in France, killing 12 staffers and injuring several others.
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