Earlier this week, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle made headlines by participating in a conversation about racial justice hosted by the Queen's Commonwealth Trust. The Sussexes joined Chrisann Jarrett, a QCT trustee and the co-founder and co-CEO of We Belong; Alicia Wallace, the director of Equality Bahamas; Mike Omoniyi, the founder and CEO of the Common Sense Network; and Abdullahi Alim, who leads the World Economic Forum's Global Shapers network, on a call which was later edited and distributed to press.
During the discussion, the Duchess of Sussex spoke of her personal experience navigating racial bias, saying: "It’s not just in the big moments, it’s in the quiet moments where racism and unconscious bias lies and thrives. It makes it confusing for a lot of people to understand the role that they play in that, either passively and actively."
"So much of what I've come to the understanding of, especially in learning even more about it of late and obviously having had personal experience with it as well, but in people’s complacency they’re complicit, and that I think is the shift that we're seeing," she continued.
And both Meghan and Harry reflected on the "uncomfortable" history of the Commonwealth, though they did not delve too far into specifics.
“When you look across the Commonwealth, there is no way that we can move forward unless we acknowledge the past. So many people have done such an amazing incredible job of acknowledging the past and trying to right those wrongs, but I think we all acknowledge on there there is so much more still to do. It’s not going to be easy and in some cases it’s not going to be comfortable but it needs to be done, because guess what, everybody benefits,” Harry said.
“I think there's a hell of a lot that we together need to acknowledge, but I only see hope and optimism in the fact that we can only do this together.”
During this portion of the conversation, Meghan recognized that “we’re going to have to be a little uncomfortable right now,” speaking broadly—but also perhaps specifically—about the royal family.
Shortly after the recording of the call was made public, one of the participants, Alicia Wallace, published a behind-the-scenes look at the experience, and offered her perspective on working with the Sussexes. In a first-person story for Zora, Wallace unpacks her "complicated" decision to take part in the event.
"I decided to be there, knowing that there would likely be criticism of a pro-Black, anti-capitalism advocate who is calling for wealth distribution to dare to sit with people whose titles are symbols of a legacy from which we need to be freed," she writes, explaining the "persisting relics of colonization do not sit well with many of us [in the Bahamas, where the Queen still serves as head of state]."
Wallace also notes that the Sussexes didn't put restrictions on what was talked about on the call. "The couple brought a calm, relaxed energy to the call, so it didn’t feel formal or high-pressure. We weren’t told what to say or what to ask," she says. "They showed genuine interest and responded to our comments with substance."
She found the conversation to be "groundbreaking."
"The July 1 conversation was the first time in recent memory that anyone in the royal family plainly spoke out on Britain’s colonial past and the resulting, and ongoing, issues of racial injustice and inequality," she writes.
"They both addressed the elephant in the room and said exactly what we, and so many others, know. And that is part of the reason why the conversation was so groundbreaking."
Watch the recording above, and read Wallace's full piece at zora.medium.com.
For more stories like this, including celebrity news, beauty and fashion advice, savvy political commentary, and fascinating features, sign up for the Marie Claire newsletter.