The September 1st edition of The Voice, Britain’s only Black newspaper, was guest-edited by Prince Charles. As guest-editor, he highlighted his Prince’s Trust work in the Black British community (giving away scholarships and job training) and he wrote an editorial about how “the Black community is a source of inspiration to me… You have welcomed me into your communities with wonderful enthusiasm and I am grateful that you have always been candid with me about the issues you continually face and how I might help.” The reaction to Charles’s guest-editorship has been pretty awful for both Charles AND The Voice. None of the Voice’s readers wanted Charles to use their newspaper as a soft-focus advertisement for The Prince’s Trust. The backlash against The Voice’s editor Lester Holloway has been especially pointed too, so much so that Holloway is now backtracking and saying that of course the Windsors need to acknowledge their own colonialist history and their role in the transatlantic slave trade.
When approached [about the backlash] by The Independent, a spokesperson for The Voice said: “We recognise the strong feelings some of our readers have over this edition and the divergence of views in the community. We agreed to collaborate with The Prince of Wales after looking at the work he had done on race equality over 40 years and the parallels with our campaigning over the same period. The edition we published deals with important issues like reparations and black empowerment, told through the eyes of prominent and respected figures in the community.”
On its call for an apology on slavery, the spokesperson said: “An apology and reparations for enslavement of Africans remains a key demand from all institutions that were involved or gained from it.”
The British royal family was involved in the transportation and selling of African people for profit for centuries, with Elizabeth I becoming involved in the lucrative dealings of John Hawkins, one of Britain’s first slave traders in the 16th century, and the link continuing through to its abolition in 1834.
The monthly newspaper’s editor Lester Holloway expanded on the newspaper’s “key demand” on a slavery apology during a BBC London interview on Sunday.
“All of the institutions, including the royal family, that have been involved in the historical horrors of colonialism have not apologised for slavery and what we’ve got is statements of personal regret which is absolutely not good enough,” he said. “I think it’s appalling that nobody has apologised for slavery.”
Reparationist Esther Stanford-Xosei has called for The Voice to apologise for inviting Prince Charles to edit the paper.
“Having bought and read a copy of the paper, it’s really just a nauseating advert for the Prince’s Trust and what it’s doing,” she said. “The royal family, as an institution, is doing nothing to actually remedy the harm [caused by slavery] and Prince Charles’ editorship sends a dangerous message to the rest of the world and shows the schizophrenic identity that is part of the internalisation of colonisation.”
[From The Independent]
Okay, here’s where I come down: I don’t think it was actually a bad idea for Prince Charles to guest-edit The Voice, in general. I just think it was done the wrong way. I think Charles is attempting – in his own fusty, colonizer way – to acknowledge the vibrant diversity in British society. Honestly, it would be worse if he didn’t even try, if he did nothing to reach out to the diverse communities in Britain and the Commonwealth. Now, did he actually “reach out” or make any kind of substantive statement against racism, against inequality, against his family’s history of colonization and the family’s historical ties to slavery? No. He didn’t. Which is why this backlash is happening. Charles thought he could just waltz into a Black newspaper, chat about how the Prince’s Trust gives money to Black people and he would be applauded for deigning to even acknowledge Black folks.
— Catherine Mayer (@catherine_mayer) September 5, 2022
— Peter Hunt (@_PeterHunt) September 5, 2022
Photos courtesy of Backgrid, Avalon Red, Instar.
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