Minorities barred from Buckingham Palace jobs until 1960s: report

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Buckingham Palace blocked ethnic minorities from working in the royal household until at least the late 1960s, according to a review of documents from the United Kingdom’s National Archives.

The documents obtained by The Guardian revealed in part that Queen Elizabeth II’s chief financial manager in 1968 said that it “was not, in fact, the practice to appoint coloured immigrants or foreigners” to clerical roles. 

The palace, however, did allow ethnic minorities to work as domestic servants, The Guardian reported. 

It was not clear from the obtained records when exactly this practice ended, though the British newspaper noted that they indicated people from ethnic minority backgrounds were employed in office jobs in the 1990s. Records on the racial backgrounds of employees were not recorded prior to then. 

The queen has remained exempt from U.K. laws adopted in the 1970s that make it illegal to decline to hire someone on the basis of race, ethnicity or sex. 

The Guardian reported that Buckingham Palace in a statement did not directly dispute the queen’s exemption, but added that the palace had a separate process for handling discrimination complaints from employees. 

“The royal household and the sovereign comply with the provisions of the [2010] Equality Act, in principle and in practice,” the statement said.

“This is reflected in the diversity, inclusion and dignity at work policies, procedures and practices within the royal household,” it added. 

A palace representative who spoke on the condition of anonymity told The Associated Press in response to the report that “claims based on a second-hand account of conversations from over 50 years ago should not be used to draw or infer conclusions about modern-day events or operations.” 

Conversations on how the royal family has handled race issues have increased in the months following Oprah Winfrey’s bombshell March interview with Prince Harry and Meghan, the duchess of Sussex. 

Meghan, whose mother is Black and father is white, revealed in the interview that leading up to the birth of her son, Archie, there were conversations within the royal family on how “how dark his skin might be.” 

Harry later said that the comments were not made by the queen or Prince Philip. 

Prince William later responded to the interview, telling reporters, “We’re very much not a racist family.”

Tags Britain British Royal Family Buckingham Palace Duchess of Sussex Great Britain House of Windsor Meghan Markle Oprah Winfrey Prince Harry Prince Philip Queen Elizabeth II racism allegations The Associated Press The Guardian United Kingdom Workplace discrimination

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