Senior aides to Queen Elizabeth II barred the hiring of ethnic minorities – coloured immigrants or foreigners – in office roles at Buckingham Palace until at least the late 1960s, a media report said Thursday.
The Queen and Britain’s royal household also negotiated an exemption from 1970s-era laws on race and sex discrimination that still exists today, The Guardian reported.
Citing historical papers it unearthed at the National Archives, the newspaper said that in 1968, the Queen’s chief financial manager told government officials of the hiring policy towards ethnic minorities.
“It was not, in fact, the practice to appoint coloured immigrants or foreigners” to clerical and other office posts, one document quoted the royal courtier as having stated.
“Coloured applicants” were considered only for “ordinary domestic posts”, it added.
It is unclear when the policy ended, but Buckingham Palace has said its records show people from ethnic minority backgrounds being employed in the 1990s, The Guardian noted.
The palace added it did not keep records on the racial backgrounds of employees prior to that, according to the paper.
A palace spokeswoman said in a statement: “Claims based on a second-hand account of conversations from over 50 years ago should not be used to draw or infer conclusions about modern-day events or operations.”
She added the royal household complied with the provisions of the 2010 Equality Act “in principle and in practice”.
“Any complaints that might be raised under the Act follow a formal process that provides a means of hearing and remedying any complaint,” the spokeswoman said.
The revelations are the latest in an ongoing investigation by The Guardian into the royal family’s use of an arcane parliamentary procedure — known as Queen’s consent — to influence British legislation.
The official documents show senior aides to Britain’s longest-serving monarch coordinated with government officials on the wording of new racial and sexual equalities laws in the 1970s.
The exemption secured for the royal household meant a government board, rather than the courts, has since dealt with allegations of discrimination within the royal household.
The disclosures are likely to renew focus on allegations of historical and more recent racism with the British royal family.
In a bombshell interview earlier this year, Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle revealed a family member had expressed concern about their expected child’s skin colour.
Shock at the claim prompted Prince William, second-in-line to the throne and Harry’s elder brother, to tell reporters in March that the family was “very much not” racist.
The funeral of Queen Elizabeth II’s husband, Prince Philip, will take place next week, Buckingham Palace said on Saturday, announcing a stripped-back ceremony due to coronavirus restrictions, and a return for exiled royal Prince Harry but not his wife, Meghan.
The announcement came as the couple’s eldest son, heir to the throne Prince Charles, 72, paid a heartfelt tribute to his “dear Papa”, and said he and the royal family missed him “enormously”.
“My dear Papa was a very special person who I think above all else would have been amazed by the reaction and the touching things that have been said about him, and from that point of view we are, my family, deeply grateful for all that,” he added.
“It will sustain us in this particular loss and at this particularly sad time.”
The Duke of Edinburgh – the 94-year-old queen’s husband of 73 years — died peacefully on Friday just two months short of his 100th birthday, triggering eight days of national mourning.
Royal officials said his funeral, which will be televised, will take place at 1400 GMT on Saturday, April 17 in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, west of London.
It will be preceded by a national minute’s silence.
Government guidelines restrict mourners to just 30 people and close attention has been paid to the pared-down guest list for the funeral, particularly whether the duke’s grandson Harry would attend.
Palace officials confirmed he would but his American wife, Meghan, who is pregnant with their second child, had been advised against travelling from the United States on medical grounds.
The couple, who quit frontline royal duties last year, have launched a series of broadsides against the royals, including accusing them of racism, and of failing to treat Meghan’s mental health.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will also not be attending the funeral because of Covid restrictions, Downing Street said.
“The Prime Minister has throughout wanted to act in accordance with what is best for the Royal household, and so to allow for as many family members as possible will not be attending the funeral on Saturday,” a spokesperson said.
Gun salutes earlier echoed around the United Kingdom on Saturday as the armed forces paid solemn tribute to the duke.
The coordinated 41-round volleys to the former Royal Navy commander were fired at a rate of one per minute from 12:00 (1100 GMT) in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast, as well as at naval bases, from warships at sea, and in the British territory Gibraltar.
Similar salutes — the most according to military protocol — were also held in Canberra and Wellington, as the Queen is head of state in Australia and New Zealand.
At the Tower of London, a crowd of more than 100 onlookers kept a respectful silence as they watched the Honourable Artillery Company fire shots on the banks of the River Thames.
One onlooker, Heather Utteridge, said she had come to show her respects “for a superhuman”.
“It’s a great loss to not just the Queen, but actually to the country. He represented stability for all of our lives,” the 65-year-old told AFP.
Alexander Beaten, 30, said the royal couple had been an integral part of British identity and culture.
“We can disagree with the government… but the Queen and Prince Philip are just such a constant,” he said.
Sporting events, including Premier League football matches, English county championship cricket, and the Grand National horserace, held silences as part of worldwide tributes to mark the death of the duke, during a period of national mourning.
The death of the duke, the longest serving royal consort in British history, is a profound loss for the Queen, who once described her loyal husband as her “strength and stay” throughout her long reign.
Flags at half-mast
Flags were flying at half-mast on government buildings and will do so until the morning after his funeral.
The well-rehearsed protocol for the duke’s death — codenamed “Forth Bridge” — has been hastily revised because of the coronavirus pandemic, eliminating public events where crowds could gather.
Parliament will be recalled on Monday for lawmakers to pay tribute, but the duke will not lie in state, nor will there will be military processions.
British television stations cleared their schedules for special broadcasts looking back on his life on Friday, although the BBC said it had received complaints about the blanket coverage.
Westminster Abbey, where the couple married in 1947, tolled its tenor bell 99 times on Friday, once for each year of the prince’s life.
Philip had been ill for some time, and spent more than a month in hospital from February 16 being treated for a pre-existing heart condition and an infection.
Despite looking frail on his release from hospital on March 16, hopes were raised for his recovery.
But the Queen announced Philip’s death at Windsor Castle “with deep sorrow” on Friday.
‘Farewell, my beloved’
The duke’s death dominated Britain’s newspapers on Saturday. “We’re all weeping with you Ma’am,” The Sun tabloid said on its front page.
The Daily Mail splashed a picture of the Queen looking at her husband along with the headline “Farewell, my beloved” on the front page of its 144-page souvenir edition.
Tributes poured in from home and abroad, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson giving “thanks, as a nation and a kingdom, for the extraordinary life and work of Prince Philip”.
Political and faith leaders in Britain, and from the United States, Europe and Commonwealth countries including Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand and Pakistan also paid their respects.
Global royalty also paid their respects, while Pope Francis praised the prince’s “devotion” to his family and marriage, and sent his “heartfelt condolences” to the Queen.
Flowers discouraged due to Covid
Philip retired from public duties in 2017 at the age of 96, declaring “I’ve done my bit”.
The couple had been living largely in isolation at Windsor because their age put them at heightened risk from Covid-19.
He was last seen at a staged appearance at a military ceremony at Windsor in July, days after attending the wedding ceremony of his granddaughter Princess Beatrice.
On Saturday members of the public continued to pay their respects outside Buckingham Palace and Windsor, despite royal family requests not to gather at royal residences because of the restrictions.
Hundreds of flowers that had been laid outside the Queen’s official residence in central London on Friday have been moved to Windsor, apparently to discourage further gathering.
An online book of condolences on the royal family’s official website has been put in place rather than conventional public tributes.
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II will not celebrate her birthday on Tuesday with a traditional gun salute due to the coronavirus crisis, Buckingham Palace said on Saturday.
“There will be no gun salutes. Her Majesty was keen that no special measures were put in place to allow gun salutes as she did not feel it appropriate in the current circumstances,” the palace told AFP.
The queen, who turns 94 on Tuesday, made a rare national address at Easter, saying that “we know that coronavirus will not overcome us” and that “we will meet again” after the country’s lockdown is lifted.
US President Donald Trump met Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace on Monday after kicking off his UK state visit by branding the London mayor a “loser” and weighing in on the Brexit debate.
With a 41-gun royal salute ringing out across the royal palace’s lawn, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles shook hands with the US leader and First Lady MelaniaTrumpbefore British soldiers played the national anthems of the two countries.
The queen then led the couple inside for a private lunch, which will be followed in the evening by a glittering banquet.
Trump’s plane had not even touched down when he tweeted that London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who has been highly critical of the red-carpet welcome laid on for Trump, was doing a “terrible job”.
The president called the mayor a “stone cold loser”, adding: “Kahn reminds me very much of our very dumb and incompetent Mayor of NYC, (Bill) de Blasio, who has also done a terrible job – only half his height.
“In any event, I look forward to being a great friend to the United Kingdom,” he added.
Backing for Boris
Trump’s three-day visit comes with Britain in political turmoil. Prime Minister Theresa May is due to step down within weeks over her handling of her country’s exit from the European Union.
Trump weighed in on the divisive issue, declaring before he arrived that Britain’s former foreign minister Boris Johnson would make an “excellent” choice to succeed May.
In a round of British newspaper interviews, he also recommended her successor walk away from talks with Brussels, refuse to pay Britain’s agreed divorce bill and leave the EU with no deal.
The UK-US “special relationship” was already under strain over different approaches to Iran, the use of Chinese technology in 5G networks, climate change, andTrump’s personal politics.
Labour’s Khan has led the opposition to the three-day visit, writing a newspaper article on Sunday in which he compared the US leader to European dictators from the 1930s and 1940s.
“DonaldTrumpis just one of the most egregious examples of a growing global threat,” Khan wrote.
His spokesman calledTrump’s tweets “childish” and “beneath the president of the United States”.
Baby Trump blimp
Huge protests are being organised in London, with organisers crowdfunding a bright orange “babyTrump” blimp depicting the US leader in a diaper — aiming for an even larger version than the one flown during his visit last year.
The leaders of Britain’s main opposition parties and the speaker of parliament are boycotting the state banquet on Monday night.
In an effort to brush past the controversy, May andTrumpare expected to emphasise the wider benefits of their old alliance when they hold talks at Downing Street on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, they will join other world leaders in the English port of Portsmouth to commemorate 75 years since the D-Day landings, which changed the course of World War II.
“Our relationship has underpinned our countries’ security and prosperity for many years, and will continue to do so for generations to come,” May said ahead of the visit.
May announced her resignation last month after failing to get her Brexit deal through parliament and twice delaying Britain’s EU departure.
She will formally quit as her Conservative party’s leader on Friday but will stay on as caretaker prime minister while her successor is chosen.
Three years after the referendum vote for Brexit, Britain remains divided.
Trump recommended the new government make a clean break with the EU if necessary, adding that there was “tremendous potential” for Britain to trade with his country after Brexit.
Causing more potential embarrassment for May, Trump said he might also meet with Johnson and pro-Brexit leader Nigel Farage during his UK visit.
“They want to meet. We’ll see what happens,” he told reporters before he left the United States.
Strained special relationship
May was the first foreign leader welcomed to the White House afterTrump’s election victory in November 2016, but their relationship has not always been rosy.
They have clashed overTrump’s migration policies, while Britain still backs the Iranian nuclear deal and the Paris climate accord, both of whichTrumphas abandoned.
Washington has also been putting pressure on Britain to exclude Chinese tech giant Huawei from its 5G network over security concerns, suggesting it might harm intelligence-sharing.
Trump’s first official visit to Britain last year was overshadowed by criticism of May’s approach to Brexit, as well as large demonstrations.
He is not expected to meet Prince Harry and his American wife Meghan Markle, after saying her previous criticism of him was “nasty”.
Britain’s 92-year-old Queen Elizabeth II underwent eye surgery to remove a cataract in May, Buckingham Palace said on Friday.
“I can confirm that the queen successfully underwent a short, planned procedure to treat a cataract last month,” a palace spokesman said.
Cataracts occur when the lens, a small transparent disc inside the eye, develops cloudy patches, over time growing and causing blurry, misted vision and even blindness if left untreated.
In recent weeks the British monarch has been seen wearing sunglasses at a number of events, including the Royal Windsor Horse Show and Buckingham Palace garden parties.
Normally an impeccable observer of decorum, it is thought the queen donned the shades on the advice of doctors whilst one eye recovers from surgery to replace the cloudy lens with an artificial one.
Cataract surgery typically takes just 30 to 45 minutes under local anesthetic, but it can take an individual four to six weeks to fully recover.
Although she turned 92 in April, the queen traditionally holds an official birthday on the second Saturday of June — this weekend — to enjoy more favourable weather.
Her husband Prince Philip will then celebrate his 97th birthday on Sunday.
The palace announced he had undergone successful hip surgery in April after retiring from public life last summer, having attended more than 22,000 engagements and delivered nearly 5,500 speeches over the years.
A man was arrested on Friday after attacking police with a knife outside Queen Elizabeth II’s Buckingham Palace residence in London, police said.
“The man was stopped…at approximately 20:35 hours (1935 GMT) by officers at the Mall outside Buckingham Palace in possession of knife. Two male police officers suffered minor injuries to their arm,” said a Metropolitan Police statement.