Could residents in a largely Afro-Caribbean area of London believe that the royal family is using Meghan Markle to diversify their image? A few folks in Brixton, a multicultural district dubbed “London’s Harlem,” questioned whether Prince Harry and his fiancee’s publicized visit to the area Tuesday was just a mere publicity stunt.
“It’s a stunt for the royal family,” Mike Eweje, who works in Brixton, said to NBC News ahead of the visit before referring to Harry’s older brother, Prince William and his wife, Kate Middleton, the Dutchess of Cambridge. “Did Will come here with his missus? I don’t think so. It’s like, ‘Look at us, we’ve got a black person with us now.’”
The area, rocked by race riots during the 1980s, was once lauded by Nelson Mandela as a “heartland of the anti-apartheid struggle.” Markle, 36, and Harry, 33, visited Reprezent, a radio station that provides training and education for at-risk teens, during Tuesday’s Brixton visit, ABC News reported. The reactions over the visit had been mixed.
The criticisms have coincided with conversations on social media about whether the former “Suits” star will be touted as a symbol to show the world that the royals love Black folks. Some Brixton residents are torn on whether Kensington Palace selected Brixton for the engaged couple’s second big public appearance in an effort to capitalize on Markle’s biracial identity.
“They think it’s a good fit coming to Brixton,” Anita Thorpe, a local business owner, said. “It’s a bit of a cliché, but I guess also something quite positive.”
Some residents didn’t believe that royals had an agenda. “They’re trying to be cultural by coming down here,” Mo Jason, 18, said.
Markle, who’ll marry Prince Harry on May 19, would be a good addition to the royal family, said other people.
“She’s the first diverse royal, reflecting for the first time the demographics of England,” Brixton visitor Dennise Hilliman said. “All the royals are very white, but when you look at England, and especially, London you have so many ethnicities.”
The royal visit spotlights Brixton’s gentrification battle and public views on the area’s crime rate, which has declined in recent years. Residents feel the area is still lacking true integration, a belief that perhaps could be of concern to Harry and Markle.