Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Son Archie Isn’t the First British Royal to Be Scrutinized For Their Skin Tone

Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex stunned the world with their bombshell sit-down with Oprah Winfrey. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex detailed the treatment they faced before, during, and after Meghan married into the royal family and what spurred them to leave royal life and move across the pond. The interview has drawn polarizing reactions to many of the bits of information the two revealed.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle | Harpo Productions/Joe Pugliese via Getty Images

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey

Meghan and Harry sent shockwaves around the world when they announced in early 2020 that they were taking a step back from royal life. But after they sat down with Oprah for their highly-anticipated interview, it became clear why they felt they needed to do it.

Both Meghan and Harry agreed that the family was extremely welcoming of Meghan in the beginning; Queen Elizabeth especially had taken a liking to Harry’s new wife. But when tabloids began writing fake stories about Meghan that played into racist and sexist stereotypes, Buckingham Palace didn’t protect Meghan and denounce false stories like they have with Kate, Duchess of Cambridge.

Archie, Meghan, and Harry
Archie, Meghan, and Harry | Toby Melville – Pool/Getty Images

Meghan left Oprah speechless with 1 answer

The one moment in the interview that left everyone with their jaws on the floor was when Meghan revealed some of the conversations that were happening behind the scenes when she was pregnant with baby Archie.

When Meghan and Harry were expecting, they were speaking with palace officials about what their arrangement as non-senior members of the royal family would entail. That would include Archie not having an official title, despite him having the birthright of a Prince title once Charles becomes King.

Meghan revealed to Oprah that at this same time, there were “concerns and conversations about how dark [Archie’s] skin might be when he’s born” happening between Harry and an unnamed member of the family. Oprah was visibly shocked at the news.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry pose with son Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry pose with son Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor | Dominic Lipinski – WPA Pool/Getty Images

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Meghan and Harry’s son Archie isn’t the first Black royal

Although the common belief is that Meghan, Duchess of Sussex is the first Black British royal, some historians have a different theory. Queen Charlotte — who reigned in the late 18th and early 19th centuries — might have actually been the first Black royal. While Charlotte was born in present-day Germany, many experts believe she had African ancestry.

Belizean historian Mario De Valdes y Cocom traced Charlotte’s lineage back to a member of the Portuguese royal family, Alfonso III. According to Valdes, Alfonso had several children with a Black mistress in the 13th century. One of those children married into another noble family (which may also have had African ancestry) from which Charlotte was descended. Valdes also pointed out to The Washington Post that several portraits of Charlotte suggest she had African ancestry.

Valdes discovered that the royal physician had described Charlotte as “small and crooked, with a true mulatto face.” He also found other descriptions, including poet Sir Walter Scott writing that she and other members of her family were “ill-colored, orangutan looking figures, with black eyes and hook-noses.” A prime minister even once said of Queen Charlotte: “Her nose is too wide and her lips too thick.”

Unfortunately, criticism of a royal’s skin tone is now coming from inside the palace walls.