Sun06242018

LAST_UPDATESat, 23 Jun 2018 9pm

Will Meghan And Harry's Wedding Change Views On Racism And Diversity In UK

With two weeks to go until the royal wedding, Sky News has spoken to bridal experts, academics and community workers for a special report exploring whether Meghan Markle can make any difference to racial equality in Britain.

It comes after some have described Harry and Meghan's wedding as a social game-changer for black Britain; a mixed raced American actress, whose ancestors were slaves, marrying a white British Prince.

The report uncovers divided opinions on racism and diversity.

Nova Reid launched her blog Nubride.com after she got engaged in 2011 to try to tackle the lack of representation in the wedding industry. She's now a diversity adviser and works with top bridal designers like Ian Stewart.

Speaking about her own experience when she got engaged, Nova said: "I launched myself into newsagents the morning after the night before and that's when I first noticed 'where are the British women who are also black? Where are they?'

"At first I thought perhaps I was being over-sensitive or paranoid and then I started buying more magazines and it was the same thing. Sometimes I would flick through them and there would not be one single person of colour in the entire magazine."

But she has high hopes Meghan can help change things: "She's a bit of a feminist, she's passionate about women's issues, she's intelligent, she's articulate, she's also of mixed heritage, and for young girls to see that possibility and to see a positive role model in that way is more powerful than most people can realise."

Ambrice Miller is from America and is soon to marry her English fiancé Ben Joyce - their civil ceremony just happens to take place on the 19 May.

She said: "I think what Meghan brings to the table is a little bit different. It's the element of it's going to be an international wedding, it's an interracial wedding, she's quite open about being proud about the fact that she's mixed race.

"I think that is only going to be beneficial because I'm in an interracial relationship and bringing that to the foreground, into the mainstream is only gonna, hopefully, have a positive impact. And I think she's handled it with elegance and grace in regards to some of the nasty attacks she's had based on her race."

But Dr Kehinde Andrews, from Birmingham City University, was so sceptical about claims that Meghan can make a difference he wrote an article saying she will not be allowed to be a black princess.

He told Sky News: "The Royal Family is probably our premiere institution of whiteness if you look at the idea of the Empire, the Commonwealth, the time when Britain was great and Britannia ruled the waves.

"It's not a coincidence that 68% of people think that colonialism was a good thing and about 68% of people believe that the monarchy is a good thing as well. So the monarchy is this kind of symbol of many of the problems with Britain and how it relates to race."

He also recalled how an older white lady knocked on the door of one of his young black PhD students to say that she thought it was terrible that Harry was marrying someone like Meghan.

We visited Aba Graham who set up the Ebony and Ivory community group in Stockport nine years ago to raise aspirations for black and mixed heritage children.

She said: "When I started this all them years ago it came from two young girls that said to me 'I have nothing in store before me' and so I wanted to hopefully bring children together and work with them."

She says discrimination, racism and what she describes as "micro-aggressions" are still an everyday problem, from the justice system, to education and employment.

She added: "Whether it's because of what the Government call austerity or the issues around international or national issues that are happening like Brexit or whatever I don't know."

A teenager at the group described how white children at her school call black children slaves.

In 2015, Meghan wrote an article for Elle magazine talking about her own experiences of having a black mother and white father, and the "undercurrent of racism that is so prevalent, especially within America".

She added: "While my mixed heritage may have created a grey area surrounding my self-identification, keeping me with a foot on both sides of the fence, I have come to embrace that. To say who I am, to share where I'm from, to voice my pride in being a strong, confident mixed-race woman."

Since their engagement Harry and Meghan have travelled across the UK, often visiting ethnically diverse communities such as Brixton in south London and Birmingham.

She hasn't confirmed what causes or issues she will focus on through her new royal role, but it will be fascinating to see if, as part of the establishment, she'll feel able to still campaign for racial equality.

By Rhiannon Mills, Royal Correspondent

-Sky News