This Saturday will mark the coronation of King Charles III, and for many it represents a new era for the royal family and the United Kingdom. Whether you choose to celebrate by making the Coronation Quiche or by simply enjoying the long weekend, for some this moment is a symbol of change and looking to the future.
Whilst many royal events are often a time to unite the country, recent YouGov polls suggest the public feel indifferent this time round. The National Centre for Social Research has found a long-term deterioration in support for the monarchy, in which recent studies have found almost 66% of people don’t care or care very little about this week’s coronation.
The Commonwealth has also been under scrutiny for many years, as the brutal legacy of colonialism and the British Empire continues to be felt deeply across many of the former colonies. These historic systems of power still yield leverage in global systems today. The King is head of state for 14 other nations outside of the UK, though more nations in the Commonwealth are predicted to become republics soon, such as Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda.
The Royal Family have witnessed a series of scandals in recent years, with the issue of racism permeating the system itself. Ongoing media disputes between Meghan Markle’s accusations of racism in the institution remains at the forefront of newspaper headlines, however the racism directed towards charity founder Ngozi Fulani at Buckingham Palace has not been discussed at length since the story broke last year. Co-founder of the domestic abuse charity for African and Caribbean heritage women- Ngozi Fulani- was repeatedly asked “where she really came from” by Lady Susan Hussey, godmother to Prince William and lady in waiting to the late Queen. Fulani spoke of feeling “violated” and “interrogated” at the palace, and hoped that a “positive solution” could be found.
Does the Coronation mark a genuine change for society?
As the above poll results suggest, many feel indifferent to the direction of the monarchy. However, King Charles’ commitment to social and environmental change has been apparent in his sustained engagement with communities, most notably through The Prince’s Trust that has supported over 1 million disadvantaged young people in the UK for over 40 years. The King has also shown sustained commitment and awareness to climate and environmental issues, speaking at the COP26 Climate Conference in Glasgow in 2021.
King Charles’ engagement in race issues is also apparent too. The King has formed a new partnership with the Stephen Lawrence Day Foundation and financially supported members of the young Black community– including actor Idris Elba in his teenage years- through the Prince’s Trust. The King also helped guest edit The Voice’s 40 year anniversary edition- Britain’s only Black national newspaper- where he spoke of the importance of the paper as the “fabric of our society”. Just last month Charles and the Historic Royal Palaces have committed to research exploring the monarchy’s links with slavery, where a spokesperson for the royal family stated:
“This is an issue that His Majesty takes profoundly seriously. As His Majesty told the Commonwealth heads of government reception in Rwanda last year: ‘I cannot describe the depths of my personal sorrow at the suffering of so many, as I continue to deepen my own understanding of slavery’s enduring impact.’”
It is apparent that King Charles is committed to bringing about positive change, and his Coronation is symbolic of such values.
Time will tell whether such values will be felt through meaningful and sustained impact across society throughout his reign.
What can the Coronation mean for race in the workplace?
Racism and racial inequality continues to permeate the workplace, from recruitment to progression into senior leadership roles. The TUC’s 2022 report, based on a sample of 1750 ethnically diverse workers across the UK, identified that many workplaces discrimination along racial lines, leading to over 120,000 ethnically diverse workers quitting their jobs. The report estimated that 2 in 5 ethnically diverse workers have reported experiencing racism in the workplace in the past 5 years, with only 19% of these (most recent) incidents being reported to their employer.
Just last month, Starbucks publicly shared their Workforce Diversity Data for the 7th consecutive year. The organisation stated this is to “promote transparency and open dialogue” on matters of race and gender equality in the workplace. As of October 2022, Starbucks U.S. partner base is made up of 71.6% female and 50.5% people from racial and ethnic minority groups. Though more can be done, Starbucks (like many other organisations) is demonstrating good practice through such transparent action. From this, impact can follow.
What lies ahead for race equality in this new era?
Opinion on the Royal Family and the Coronation divides many across Britain. But whilst not everyone can unite on this front, everyone must be united against racial inequality for change to come about.
How can we embrace this new era to bring about meaningful change, beyond the rhetoric?
King Charles reflected in 2021 on the need to act to benefit future generations, in regards to climate change. What can be done to benefit future generations in regards to enduring race inequality?
“There’s millions and millions of young people out there on whose behalf, they may not realise it, I’ve been trying to work for the last 40 years. One of the things that motivated me more than anything else is that I didn’t want to be accused by my grandchildren or children of not doing the things that needed doing at the time,”
So, what is your motivation to make society and the workplace better for generations to come?
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If you want to see change and race equality in the workplace, join the Race Equality Matters’ movement if you are not registered already.
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