Another day, another Zoom missive from the Duke and Duchess of Woke. Hot on the heels of their thinly-veiled intervention in the US election, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have called for an ‘end to structural racism’ in the UK, via a new initiative they’ve launched in collaboration with the Evening Standard.
To mark the beginning of Black History Month in the UK, Harry and Meghan have unveiled a list of ‘BHM Next Gen Trailblazers’ – that is, black Brits who are making a difference in arts, politics and culture, chosen in turn by some of the Sussexes’ favourite black British artists, politicians and cultural figures.
Scratch beneath the surface, though, and this initiative seems as much about celebrating black British talent as it is about ‘educating’ the supposedly uneducated population, who the royal couple seem to think are insufficiently aware of the contributions made by Brits of African and Caribbean backgrounds.
The couple gave a Zoom interview to the Standard from their £11m mansion in California, all in the cringeworthy style to which we’ve become accustomed: Harry recites tired talking points in the manner of a man reading a hostage letter, while Meghan stares at him, smiling.
The list, Harry says, is an ‘opportunity to introduce Brits to other Brits that they might not know about’, adding that even in London 'if you actually get out on the streets and talk to people... it doesn't feel as diverse as it actually is'. Meghan goes on to defend Black Lives Matter against accusations it is ‘inflammatory’.
As ever with Harry and Meghan it is not just the right-on bromides about privilege and race that irk. Indeed, they are at the tamer end of the woke-celeb spectrum. It is also who is uttering them: a couple who are not only eye-wateringly rich, but also using a platform lent to them by a monarchy they have since ditched.
Harry and Meghan abandoning their royal duties, but not their royal titles, had nothing to do with press racism, of which there is no real evidence. They wanted to have all the privileges of monarchy (status, deference, public money) but none of the obligations (smiling, waving, keeping their mouths shut).
This is what really gets people’s backs up. Indeed, just days before Harry and Meghan made their call to end 'structural racism' in Britain a poll suggested Brits want nothing to do with them. According to YouGov, 48 per cent want them stripped of their royal titles, as opposed to 27 per cent who think they should keep them.
That Harry and Meghan barrel on regardless, to the applause of the metropolitan set and the supreme irritation of almost everyone else, speaks to their own vanity. But it also speaks to the elitism of woke politics; a movement that poses as fighting for the underdog but most often takes the form of hectoring the little people.
Where once royalty might have been expected to provide moral and spiritual guidance to the great unwashed, now Harry and Meghan pose as the anti-racist instructors of the great unwoke. The underlying sentiment is that ordinary people are backward, dumb and should be led from on-high.
It’s no wonder that woke politics has so easily been co-opted by corporations, cash-stuffed celebrities and even royals. It allows filthy rich people to pose as being on the side of the oppressed, all while leaving their material wealth untouched.
If the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were that committed to tackling structural inequality, of the class or race variety, they probably wouldn’t be so keen on hanging on to their royal titles – that is, hanging on to an institution that continues to confer prestige on the basis of bloodline and inherited privilege.
This latest intervention, like all their other interventions, has little to do with tackling real oppression and everything to do with boosting their egos and their increasingly lucrative brand. That two literal royals have been able to claim the mantle of progressivism shows how elitist and shallow that wing of politics has become.
Tom Slater is deputy editor of spiked