Over the weekend, three Black players on England’s soccer team faced a storm of racist abuse online following their team’s loss to Italy in the Euro final. In addition to statements from the Football Association and U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Prince William and Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton — who attended the game along with Prince George — tweeted their condemnation of the racist attacks.
“I am sickened by the racist abuse aimed at England players after last night’s match,” read the tweet signed by Prince William. After each missing kicks during a penalty shootout, English footballers Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, and Bukayo Saka received a flood of racist comments on social media, including the players’ personal Instagram accounts, per the Washington Post.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s statement continued: “It is totally unacceptable that players have to endure this abhorrent behaviour. It must stop now and all those involved should be held accountable.” While the statement is a welcome condemnation of racism from members of England’s most powerful family, many have noted the hypocrisy given the alleged past treatment of Meghan Markle.
After Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s revealing interview with Oprah earlier this year — in which Markle said members of the palace “had concerns” over Archie’s skin color while she was pregnant — the Royal Family has been quick to deny any accusations of racism. When questioned a few days after the interview, Prince William asserted that the Royals “are very much not a racist family.” The Queen also issued a statement saying she was “saddened” by the damning allegations in the Oprah interview. However, neither statement offered an explicit apology.
Unsurprisingly, the Royal Family has a history of racism within the palace walls. Until at least 1968, they barred “coloured immigrants or foreigners” from serving on staff. Though spokespeople for the Royal Family have noted they’ve employed people of color since the 1990s, a recent report from Buckingham Palace revealed that just 8.5 percent of its staff come from ethnic minorities. In addition to a goal to increase that number to 10 percent by next year, the Royal Family will also reportedly undergo diversity training. However, the efforts are too little too late for many who have noted the Royal Family’s audible silence regarding the alleged racist treatment of Meghan Markle by the palace, press, and public.
According to AP, a Twitter spokesperson said they’ve removed more than 1,000 tweets and suspended an undisclosed number of accounts that perpetuated racist attacks against the players. British police have also opened an investigation into the “offensive and racist” social-media posts.