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How Harry and Meghan’s interview is resonating in the United Kingdom

Audiences around the world watched Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, describe life in the British royal family in a revealing interview Sunday night. Meghan spoke about the racism she faced from inside and outside the institution. Marcus Ryder, a visiting professor of media diversity at Birmingham City University, joins Amna Nawaz discuss.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Audiences around the world watched Harry and Meghan, the duke and duchess of Sussex, describe their life in the British royal family in a revealing interview last night.

    Meghan spoke about the racism she faced from inside and outside the institution.

    Amna Nawaz takes a look at what her experience says about the long-reigning monarchy.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Here to discuss what last night's interview says about British attitudes on race within royalty and society more broadly is Marcus Ryder. He is executive producer for Caixin Global and a visiting professor of media diversity at Birmingham City University. He is also the author of "Access All Areas: The Diversity Manifesto for TV and Beyond."

    Marcus Ryder, welcome to the "NewsHour," and thanks for making the time.

    Obviously, huge ratings here, massive interest in this interview last night. What about in the U.K.? How is last night's interview resonating over there?

  • Marcus Ryder:

    One of the important reactions is the fact that the reactions have been so different and so contrasting, in that people are falling into two camps, and there are some who people feel this is an opportunity to really talk about race and racism, and there are some people who feel that this has got nothing to do with race and we shouldn't be talking about racism.

    And so I think it has split and it has exposed attitudes towards certain elements in British society.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    So, some of the racism that Meghan Markle has faced early in her relationship to Prince Harry was sort of evident in the tabloids and the coverage of her.

    But I want to play for you one bit from the interview last night, because among the more shocking revelations was that of sort of overt racism she faced within the royal family. Meghan alleged they didn't want to give her baby a royal title.

    And at one point, Oprah followed up by asking her about it. Take a listen.

  • Oprah Winfrey:

    Why do you think that is? Do you think it is because of his race?

    And I know that is a loaded question, but…

  • Meghan Markle:

    But I can give you an honest answer.

    In those months when I was pregnant, all around this same time, so we have, in tandem, the conversation of, he won't be given security, he's not going to be given a title, and also concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he's born.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Marcus Ryder, that story, that allegation that someone in the royal family was asking and expressing concern about her baby's skin tone, did that surprise you?

  • Marcus Ryder:

    What is important is that that son is or would have been a future employee of one of the most important institutions in the U.K., of the state.

    And what she is alleging, once you actually take away the kind of more salacious elements, what she is alleging is that one of — a future employee would be too dark or their race would play against them from being an employee of one of the most important institutions of the state.

    So, this story is not an international story because they are a famous or interesting family. It is interesting precisely because, when a Black woman has tried to enter one of the most important institutions, she says that, due to race, she was unable to stay in the institution. And that's why it is important.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Well, just to follow up on that, in this institution, you think back to the time that Meghan entered the family, and there was this huge opportunity that was talked about for this royal family, for this institution to move forward, to be more reflective, not just of British society, but even the commonwealth nations, which are largely Black and brown.

    They didn't do that. Why do you think that is?

  • Marcus Ryder:

    You only have to look at the low number of journalists in our newsrooms.

    You only have to look at the fact there is not one major news television bulletin which is headed by a person of color. And so, if British media is having trouble doing that, then I would say, and I — it would be fair to presume that other parts of Britain and the U.K. are also going to be struggling.

    I would hope that the response to the interview, not just from the royal family, but from institutions and throughout society, is, how do we make sure that all British institutions are welcoming to Black women and exploring how we can make sure that we do not have a case where, when a Black woman is breaking a glass ceiling, who is entering a space that hasn't been entered by Black people before, that it is not followed up a few years later with revelations or accusations that her mental health suffered, that she contemplated suicide, that prospective members would not be welcome if their skin tone was too dark.

    So, we need to make sure that not just the royal family, but all institutions look at themselves in the U.K. and make sure that this does not repeat itself.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Marcus Ryder, visiting professor of media diversity at Birmingham City University, thank you for joining us.

  • Marcus Ryder:

    Thank you so much.

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