Meghan Markle's former boyfriend says Royal Family has 'history of racism' going 'back to the slave trade'

·Royal Correspondent
·4 min read

Watch: Prince Harry and Meghan star in trailer for duke's Apple TV mental health show

Meghan Markle's former boyfriend said the Royal Family has a history of racism as he praised the duchess for her interview with Oprah Winfrey.

Joshua Silverstein, who dated the now royal when they were teenagers, told Lorraine Kelly that the Royal Family's history of racism goes back to the slave trade.

He said: "Meghan did Oprah and was very honest and transparent with her experiences in the Royal Family.

"There's a history of racism within the Royal Family that goes way back to the transatlantic slave trade, you know? The fact Meghan is able to get on TV and bravely talk about that is awesome."

He added: "Whenever people of colour speak out against oppression and racism, genuinely there's a huge backlash so the fact she got up and spoke about that even knowing it could create a lot of tension between her and her family, I thought that was really courageous on her part."

Harry and Meghan made an accusation of racism against the Royal Family during their explosive interview with Winfrey in March, with Meghan saying someone had raised questions with Harry about the colour of their then unborn baby's skin.

Harry would not be drawn on the conversation, but they later clarified it was not the Queen or Prince Philip who had raised it.

Silverstein joined Lorraine Kelly on her ITV show on Tuesday. (ITV)
Silverstein joined Lorraine Kelly on her ITV show on Tuesday. (ITV)

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Prince William was asked if his family was racist while on an engagement in the days after the interview aired, and defended his family as "very much not racist".

The Queen's statement after the interview said that "recollections may vary" and said the claims about race were "concerning".

Silverstein's remarks on ITV's Lorraine came soon after one of the Queen's cousins explained how he had made reparations for his ancestors' part in the slave trade.

Earl David Lascelles, a first cousin once removed of the Queen, is to appear in an ITV programme about the impact of George Floyd's death in the UK, and Charlene White, the host, recounted what he did when he discovered a link to the slave trade in their archives.

The earl, whose family seat is Harewood House in Yorkshire, discovered papers in the basement of the property that showed they had profited "quite well – from the slave trade", White said.

She told Metro: "He talked about the fact that they were quite uncomfortable with that fact but they had a choice – it was something they could keep to themselves or it was something they could be really honest about and do something about.

"And they decided that actually, they needed to be honest about this and they needed to work out a way to pay back and – it’s the word that has been bandied about a lot in the past year – reparations."

During the 1600s, the Royal African Company was led by Charles II's brother, the Duke of York. It was the company responsible for shipping more African slaves to the Americas than any other company in the trade's history. 

The first part of the interview will be Meghan one on one with Winfrey. (CBS)
Silverstein praised Meghan for what she said while being interviewed by Oprah Winfrey. (CBS)

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Before that Queen Elizabeth I had been invested in the slaving "expeditions" of John Hawkins, giving him ships, supplies and guns when they became profitable.

She also gave him a coat of arms featuring a bound slave.

In 2018, when on a royal tour in Ghana, Prince Charles acknowledged the role of Britain in the slave trade, saying: "The appalling atrocity of the slave trade, and the unimaginable suffering it caused, left an indelible stain on the history of our world."

He added: "While Britain can be proud that it later led the way in the abolition of this shameful trade, we have a shared responsibility to ensure that the abject horror of slavery is never forgotten."

Although there have been some calls for it over the years, there has not been an apology from the Queen for the slave trade or Britain's role in it.

Watch: Historic England lists villages that have ties to the slave trade

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