Harry and Meghan say past must be acknowledged even if it is ‘uncomfortable’

Couple spoke of historic injustice, unconscious bias and racism in light of the Black Lives Matter movement

Their comments came in a discussion by video link on justice and equal rights with young leaders from the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust (QCT), of which Harry and Meghan are president and vice-president respectively. Video: QCT

 

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have said the Commonwealth “must acknowledge the past”, even if it is “uncomfortable”, as the couple spoke of historic injustice, unconscious bias and racism in light of the Black Lives Matter movement.

They said the Commonwealth, which grew out of the British empire and is headed by Prince Harry’s grandmother the Queen, needed to follow the example of others, and they accepted it would not be easy.

Their comments came in a discussion by video link on justice and equal rights with young leaders from the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust (QCT), of which Harry and Meghan are president and vice-president respectively.

The QCT has said it has started a conversation about how the Commonwealth’s past - “of colonialism, of the subjugation of peoples and the ongoing legacy of such historic injustice - can and should shape the identity of the organisation, how it develops its offer and how it works in the future.”

During a debate on historic injustices such as the slave trade, Harry, speaking from the couple’s Los Angeles home, said: “When you look across the Commonwealth, there is no way that we can move forward unless we acknowledge the past.

“So many people have done such an incredible job of acknowledging the past and trying to right those wrongs, but I think we all acknowledge there is so much more still to do. It’s not going to be easy and in some cases it’s not going to be comfortable but it needs to be done, because guess what, everybody benefits.”

Meghan added: “We’re going to have to be a little uncomfortable right now, because it’s only in pushing through that discomfort that we get to the other side of this and find the place where a high tide raises all ships. Equality does not put anyone on the back foot, it puts us all on the same footing - which is a fundamental human right.”

Harry said the young leaders inspired “optimism and hope because there is no turning back now, everything is coming to a head. Solutions exist and change is happening far quicker than it ever has done before.”

Addressing unconscious bias and racism, he added: “We can’t deny or ignore the fact that all of us have been educated to see the world differently. However, once you start to realise that there is that bias there, then you need to acknowledge it, you need to do the work to become more aware so that you can help stand up for something that is so wrong and should not be acceptable in our society today.”

Meghan spoke of how unconscious bias could manifest in different and complicated ways. “It’s not just in the big moments, it’s in the quiet moments where racism and unconscious bias lies and thrives. It makes it confusing for a lot of people to understand the role that they play in that, both passively and actively.”

The couple have made several other comments around the Black Lives Matter movement. Last week Harry spoke of “endemic” institutionalised racism, saying he was sorry the world was not the place young people deserved it to be.

Last month Meghan, addressing graduates at her old high school, said of the police killing of George Floyd: “The only wrong thing is to say nothing.”

In response to the Black Lives Matter movement, QCT has been running a weekly discussion with young people looking at various forms of injustice.

- Guardian