On Wednesday, Meghan Markle accompanied her husband-to-be, Prince Harry, to Queen Elizabeth’s annual pre-Christmas lunch at Buckingham Palace. While they joined the Queen and Prince William, his wife, Kate, and their children, it was the first time Markle was meeting extended members of the royal family, as more than 50 were there. One of those royal relatives was Princess Michael of Kent, the wife of Prince Michael of Kent, and let’s just say she made quite the impression. A piece of jewelry worn by Princess Michael for this meeting now has people talking — and upset.
The royal relative, a first cousin to the Queen, attended the annual lunch wearing a controversial Blackamoor brooch. The pin was made in the like of a dark-skinned man wearing a turban. It might not sound of much importance or controversy, but Blackamoor art is seen as racist by many. A popular form of Italian decorative art that is featured in furniture, jewelry, paintings and textiles, Blackamoor art was reportedly inspired originally by European encounters with peoples of North Africa and the Middle East during the Middle Ages. Quite a few pieces of this particular form of art show dark-skinned people in exaggerated poses, often in servitude, while others depict these figures as powerful people of the noble class. And while it can be a divisive form of art, the United States is reportedly the number one importer of such art. The largest set of collectors are in places like Texas and Connecticut.
Princess Michael, as you can see, owns this type of art in jewelry form, and of all the days to pull it out, people online couldn’t help but notice she did it on the day she would meet Markle, who is biracial.
According to PEOPLE, Princess Michael has been accused of racial insensitivity in the past. In 2004 she was accused of telling a group of Black diners at a restaurant in New York to “go back to the colonies.”
Her response to being alleged to have made such offensive comments was to say that she she loves Africans so much she pretended to be one back in the day.
“I even pretended years ago to be an African, a half-caste African, but because of my light eyes I did not get away with it, but I dyed my hair black,” she said to ITV at the time. “I traveled on African buses. I wanted to be a writer. I wanted experiences from Cape Town to right up in northern Mozambique. I had this adventure with these absolutely adorable, special people and to call me racist: it’s a knife through the heart because I really love these people.”
One of the offended African-American diners who spoke about Princess Michael’s comments, called bull on her response.
“We definitely didn’t misunderstand, Nicole Young said to The Guardian. “A restaurant full of people heard what she said, so it’s almost like a joke the way she tries to explain it.”
No word yet on a response from Princess Michael, or if Markle was even offended by the brooch. But even if she weren’t, there were plenty of people online who were in her place. For example:
Her brooch isn’t necessarily the typical servitude depiction, but considering the history of Blackamoor art, Princess Michael probably should have avoided pulling this brooch out of the jewelry box for her first meeting with Markle. But then again, is anyone really surprised?