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Why Buckingham Palace’s 1960s Racist Hiring Policy Scandal Still Resonates

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Why Buckingham Palace’s 1960s Racist Hiring Policy Scandal Still Resonates

For some jobs at Buckingham Palace, the royal family has announced openly in the newspapers; It is even possible to apply online to become, for example, a Communications Officer or Cleaning assistant. But for jobs closer to Queen Elizabeth and his family, hiring appears to be done in-house and, until recent decades, little attention has been paid to creating a diverse workplace.

In the 1980sJournalists and commentators noted that the palace rarely hired people of color; even in 2000Almost all of the top employees were white. But details had been hard to come by until last week, when The Guardian uncovered documents revealing the palace’s discriminatory hiring practices in the 1960s. The newspaper uncovered a summary of a February 1968 meeting between palace courtiers and government officials about obtaining a waiver of a proposed law against the discrimination. According to government minutes, Charles Tryon, second Baron Tryon, responsible for managing the queen’s finances, explained that it was not palace practice to hire “immigrants of color or foreigners” for clerical and administrative work, but only as domestic servants. .

It’s not necessarily a surprise that the palace was not a meritocratic multicultural workplace in the late 1960s, the years when awareness of racism and discrimination changed in both the UK and the US. thanks to the controversy surrounding Meghan Markle other Prince harryactual exit – and his accusations of racism within the family in a March interview with Oprah Winfrey“The revelation about the palace’s clearly racist practice is enough to make anyone wonder how much has really changed.” Even if Prince william he was right in saying that royals are “it is not a racist family, “Meghan and Harry have been careful to say that their biggest complaints have to do with the institution around them.

According to the palace, things are different now. “Claims based on a second-hand account of conversations more than 50 years ago should not be used to draw or infer conclusions about today’s events or operations,” a Buckingham Palace spokesman said in a statement to ME! News In the past week. “The Royal House and the Sovereign comply with the provisions of the Equality Law, in principle and in practice. This is reflected in the policies, procedures and practices of diversity, inclusion and dignity at work within the Royal Household. Any complaint that may be made under the Act follows a formal process that provides a means to hear and remedy any complaint. “

Still, the image of the queen’s representatives negotiating the palace based on an anti-discrimination law is symbolically powerful. The guardian I found the documents at the National Archives and they provide a new perspective on Tryon, a longtime assistant to the queen who hasn’t had a huge impact on the history books. Tryon, the son of a prominent Conservative Party politician, served as custodian of the private portfolio from 1952 to 1971. Although his title may sound a bit informal, the position is more like that of the firm’s chief financial officer, and his occupant is usually one of the most important. the most powerful people in the palace.

In addition to monitoring the accounts, the guardian meets with the queen regularly to discuss the family’s financial affairs. In 2003, The Telegraph reported that Tryon once told the Queen and Princess Margaret that spending too much money on Kensington Palace renovations was unwise. The guardian of the private purse also appears to have served as an intermediary between the queen and the government on financial and personnel matters. In 1969, The Observer He reported that “when times are tough, he discreetly presses some butter for the slice of real bread.”

In this capacity, Tryon, his deputy, and his legal adviser attended the 1968 meeting with TG Weiler, an official in the Ministry of the Interior. According to documents discovered by The Guardian, The theme of the meeting was to discuss the queen’s interests in regards to the proposed amendments to the country’s anti-discrimination law, the Race Relations Act. Under the proposed amendments, employees could file complaints of racial discrimination against their employers with the Race Relations Board.

According to Weiler, Tryon and his colleagues claimed that the palace wanted to follow the “general principle” of the law, but were concerned about subjecting the queen to its legal mechanism. Applying the proposed legislation to the palace, they said, “would, for the first time, make it legal to criticize the House.” The palace wanted an exemption along the lines of what the diplomatic offices had already obtained, as permission to continue its current practice of not considering foreigners for such administrative jobs. (It’s not hard to imagine that a high ranking black or Asian staff member could have seemed absolutely impossible to Tryon.) In his meeting notes, Weiler suggests drafting the law to include “persons in the public service of the Crown”, thus subtly leaving out the royal house. “However, there will still be the risk that the position of the House will be raised in the press or during the debates,” he warned.

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