Steerpike

The Independent’s peer review disaster

The Independent's peer review disaster
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Oh dear. Ever since Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's bombshell Oprah interview aired, a debate has been underway in the press over allegations of racism in the monarchy. So Mr S read a comment piece on the progressive newspaper-turned-website the Independent with intrigue. With the eye catching title: 'I'm a black British member of the aristocracy – I know what Meghan said was true', Alexander J. Maier-Dlamini the 11th Marquess of Annaville, said that he had no doubt the Duke and Duchess were telling the truth given his own experiences in aristocratic circles.

The only problem? His title does not appear to actually exist. 

Despite claiming to be the 'last of the Irish peerages' there is no record of 'Annaville' in the London Gazette, Burkes or the Roll of the Peerages. The only references to the title appear to be online and by or about the author – curious given that in theory there should, with ten previous holders, be a few hundred years worth of history. 

And there's also the small matter that there are only 34 marquesses in the UK and Ireland, with the last person to be created in the peerage of Ireland being George Nathaniel Curzon in 1898. Annaville claims to be married to 'Prince Sungani Dlamini, hailing from the Kingdom of Eswatini'. 

Of Harry and Meghan, he writes:  'As a member of that same aristocracy, I’m telling you that I unequivocally believe that they are telling the truth' and claims racism is 'prevalent' in such circles. He writes: 

'When a white peer either inherits or is brought in, never do you hear major questions. Whether it is recorded in Debrett’s or happens with little fanfare, white people entering the aristocracy are welcomed with open arms and no interrogation. That hasn’t been my experience. A “show me your papers” attitude has become part of my daily existence. Asking for a family history from me when I arrive at functions, for instance, is de rigueur.'

Hmm. It is a pity that the Independent didn't actually ask to see Annaville's papers in this case. His Twitter account appears to be ignoring questions about his heraldry except for the comment that: 'today required a *lot* of weed'. 

The article has now been taken down, with links to it instead directing to the homepage. Mr S understands an internal probe has been launched and a correction is imminent. So much for peer reviews!

Written bySteerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to steerpike@spectator.co.uk.

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Topics in this articlePoliticsfake newsaristocracy