“Not amused” – The Queen, satire and racism

Buckingham Palace in London.
“The Palace” is official residence of the British monarch in London. Source: Pixabay

Vienna, Austria (Weltexpress). The Queen was, to quote the old saying, “not amused” when she was shown the cover of the satirical magazine “Charlie Hebdo”: Under the headline: “Why Meghan left Buckingham” one can see an unflattering caricature of Queen Elizabeth II. With a grim face and stubble of hair on the bared calves she kneels on Meghan gasping for air, who exclaims as an answer: “Because I could no longer breathe.” The allusion was as clear as disrespectful: pointing directly to the case of George Floyd, suffocated by a cop. Can satire as it maintains really “do everything”? Or does it have to exercise restraint, adhere to limits? What the Mohammed cartoons reprinted by the magazine in January 2015 led to is known: to murderous attacks by Islamist terrorists.

The fact that it was a French publication, of all things, portraying the Queen so ungraciously pissed off some over there particularly. And especially since the killing of Floyd sparked off a global “black lives matter” movement, anti-racism activists were unanimously outraged. Nevertheless,” Charlie Hebdo” has put his finger on the wound with precision: Prince Harry, the Queen’s grandson, and Meghan have – in a TV interview with Oprah Winfrey, the “most famous and most powerful talk show presenter in the world” – (as the “Economist” put it) bluntly accused the Royal Family of racism in front of 17 million viewers. The Duchess of Sussex said that Harry mentioned to her during her pregnancy “The Palace” had raised the question of “how dark” the skin of the child she was carrying would be. And, Meghan indicated, this topic influenced the decision of “The Firm” on the future title of Archie: Prince.

Who exactly said this was not specified; Harry later assured the interviewer that it was neither the Queen nor Prince Philip. But the damage was done. With Meghan’s dark allusion to thoughts of suicide and Harry’s remark that his father, the heir to the throne, Prince Charles, had refused to take calls from him, fuel was added to the fire. “The Palace” shot back, accusing Meghan of harassing high-ranking palace employees.

At the couple’s wedding in 2018, the multiracial harmony in racially mixed England was celebrated comfortably – a gospel choir sang, the pastor quoted Martin Luther King, and for the first time a dark-skinned woman was accepted into the royal family. That one sentence from Meghan scratched the English self-image of a tolerant, racially mixed society – and raised questions about the future of the monarchy after the death of the universally revered Queen, especially among the younger generation. This institution should embody and guarantee unity; that interview split the nation into two camps.

Annotation:

Previous article by Dr. Charles Ritterband was first published in “Voralberger Nachrichten” on March 18, 2021.

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