British-Jamaican writer and poet Dr Velma McClymont is calling on members of the Commonwealth Caribbean to defend the biracial Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle against outright racist attacks being meted out to her in some sections of the British media.
McClymont, in a strongly worded article obtained by the Jamaica Observer, said members of the Caribbean Community in Britain are “traumatised” by recent vile comments made in the British press about Markle, but bemoan being powerless to tackle the issue, and therefore need the support of their counterparts in the region to raise their voices in support of this woman of African decent.
It is felt that Markle is treated harshly especially by the British tabloid press primarily because of her ethnic background. Ever since her relationship with the Duke of Sussex Prince Harry became public – from their courtship to marriage and throughout their stay in the royal family — Markle, the first known mixed-race member of the modern British royal family, has been vilified by sections of the British media, subjecting her to numerous unsavoury articles rife with racial undertones.
The latest attack came from British broadcaster and journalist Jeremy Clarkson who wrote in a column in December that he hated Meghan Markle “on a cellular level”.
Published in tabloid newspaper The Sun, the article was in response to Prince Harry and Markle’s six-part Netflix docuseries which bared their experience in the royal family, their decision to step down from their royal duties and the harsh media scrutiny they face.
In the article, Clarkson said he was “dreaming of the day when she [Markle] is made to parade naked through the streets of every town in Britain while the crowds chant, ‘Shame!’ and throw lumps of excrement at her,” eerily reflective of a scene featuring Queen Cersei from the popular Game of Thrones series.
It has since been removed from The Sun’s website and the newspaper has issued an apology for publishing the piece. There was also public outcry, including from British Members of Parliament and Clarkson’s own daughter, following the publication.
In a flippant response on Twitter to the backlash from the article, Clarkson said: “Oh dear. I’ve rather put my foot in it. In a column I wrote about Meghan, I made a clumsy reference to a scene in Game of Thrones and this has gone down badly with a great many people. I’m horrified to have caused so much hurt and I shall be more careful in future.”
McClymont, who is also an international speaker and the director/publisher of WomanzVue Books, said this cruel image of Markle being publicly shamed “tarred and feathered, albeit with ‘excrement’, is an egregious offence that incites male violence against non-white women”.
“Due to ongoing systemic racism, we [the Caribbean community in Britain — often located in inner city areas with high levels of deprivation] have no economic power, no real influence and thus no voice to challenge the racism directed at us via the media, especially The Sun, and sections of the British public whose appetite for articles dehumanising Markle is insatiable,” she wrote.
She argued that due to this demographic’s “lack of voice, the wider Caribbean community must defend Markle against the hate being levelled at her by white influential misogynistic bullies such as Clarkson and (another British broadcaster and journalist) Piers Morgan, who, with their huge social media platforms, “have embarked on a campaign to whip Markle until she is stripped naked of all dignity”.
McClymont stressed that it is time for Caribbean leaders, “especially the esteemed [Prime Minister of Barbados] Mia Mottley, to speak out against the blatant attacks on a woman of African descent”.
“No longer can Barbados and Jamaica [who are] members of the Caribbean Commonwealth remain silent when The King is withholding hereditary titles from his mixed race grandchildren as a way of perhaps punishing Prince Harry for tarnishing his grandmother’s legacy. This is also about the media policing the boundaries of whiteness, [with] royal biographers/journalists advising Charles to disown his grandchildren – Archie and Lilibet,” she said.
McClymont suggested that it is time for the Commonwealth Caribbean and Caricom to write an open letter to The King about “the persecution of his own son’s wife”.
“If the region does not denounce Clarkson’s racist attack [a hate crime] on The King’s own daughter-in-law, what is the point of the Commonwealth?” she queried, while at the same time questioning who is benefiting from this association of mainly former colonies of the British empire.
McClymont further expressed disdain that the royal family, with King Charles being Jamaica’s head of state and elsewhere in the Caribbean region, has remained silent regarding the latest racist attack on the Duchess of Sussex by the media.
“If influential persons in the Caribbean remain silent in the face of this blatant form of hate crime, and continue to welcome the royals and their allies [such as Clarkson and Morgan] to the site of Britain’s crime against Africa, then you in the region are telling us that our lives… are not worth defending; that the region only cares about the regular remittances we send home to keep the islands afloat,” she said.
McClymont noted that some descendants of Britain’s enslaved Africans “who were classed as ‘property’ …are waiting in vain for condemnation of Clarkson by The King”.
She pointed out, on the other hand, however, that when a crime is committed against the Jewish or Asian community, “the royal family and the police are quick to denounce the perpetrators and to send sincere messages of condolences and reassurance to the victim[s] and the community affected”.
In an Oprah Winfrey interview aired in March 2021, Markle had also spoken about her experience of racism within the royal family and the hostility of the British tabloid press towards her which impacted her mental health. An article on CNBC’s website, quoted the late Queen Elizabeth II responding to say the issues raised, particularly that of race, were “concerning”.
“While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately,” The Queen said at the time.
According to an Associated Press (AP) report, Prince Harry and Markle quit royal duties and moved to California in the United States in 2020, citing a lack of support from the royal family and racist press treatment of Markle.
While there may not be public outcry specifically about the treatment of Markle by the British press, members of the Commonwealth Caribbean have been on a campaign to remove the British monarchy as their head of state — which Barbados has already done and Jamaica, led by Prime Minister Andrew Holness, is in the process of doing — and to seek reparative justice for the atrocities of slavery by the British empire.