Buckingham Palace barred minorities from office jobs in ’60s, documents in National Archives show

Buckingham Palace barred ethnic minorities from office jobs during the 1960s, the Guardian newspaper reported, citing documents in the United Kingdom’s National Archives.

The revelation, published on the newspaper’s front page, was based on papers showing that Queen Elizabeth’s chief financial manager told civil servants in 1968 that it was not the palace’s practice to hire “coloured immigrants or foreigners” for clerical posts and other office jobs.

The palace replied forcefully to the historical allegations, stressing that the queen and her household comply “in principle and in practice” with anti-discrimination legislation.

“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,” a palace spokesman said, speaking on the customary condition of anonymity.

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Members of the royal family gather on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, with from left, Prince Charles, Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Andrew, Queen Elizabeth II, Meghan the Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry, Prince William and Kate the Duchess of Cambridge, as they watch a flypast of Royal Air Force aircraft pass over Buckingham Palace.

Members of the royal family gather on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, with from left, Prince Charles, Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Andrew, Queen Elizabeth II, Meghan the Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry, Prince William and Kate the Duchess of Cambridge, as they watch a flypast of Royal Air Force aircraft pass over Buckingham Palace. (AP)

The Guardian’s allegations stem from its investigation into the palace’s use of a mechanism known as “crown consent,” under which the monarch grants permission for Parliament to debate laws affecting her.

Parliament approved laws barring discrimination based on race and sex in the 1970s. Documents in the National Archives show how the queen’s advisers influenced the wording of that legislation, the newspaper said.

Race has become a central issue for the monarchy following statements made by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, in their March interview with talk show host Oprah Winfrey. Meghan alleged that before their son, Archie, was born, a member of the royal family commented on how dark the baby’s skin might be.

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In the ensuing storm, Prince William, Harry’s older brother, defended the royal family, stating flatly that “we’re very much not a racist family.”

Prince William previously defended the royal family against claims of racism following his brother Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's interview with Oprah Winfrey.

Prince William previously defended the royal family against claims of racism following his brother Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s interview with Oprah Winfrey. (REUTERS)

In their statement released after the interview aired, Buckingham Palace said the family was “saddened” to learn of the couple’s struggles and noted that the allegations surrounding race were “concerning,” but added that “some recollections may vary.”

Elsewhere in his and Markle’s interview, Harry said the royal family cut him off financially at the start of 2020 after announcing plans to step back from his roles. But he was able to afford security for his family because of the money his mother, Princess Diana, left behind.

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Subsequent interviews following the CBS special have shown Harry discuss tensions between him and his brother, Prince William, and his father, Prince Charles. 

In early 2020, the Sussexes announced their decision to step back as senior members of the royal family. They have since relocated to California with their two-year-old son. The are also expecting the arrival of their daughter sometime this summer.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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