After the Duke and Duchess of Sussex accused the royal family of racial discrimination, Buckingham Palace released the racial composition data of its staff for the first time.
The royal family said on Thursday that 8.5% of its employees are from ethnic minorities, and the target for next year is 10%. The latest census data shows that ethnic minorities account for about 13% of the British population. Staffing data is released as part of the Royal Financial Annual Report.
A senior court source said that these figures are released to ensure greater accountability, because if the diversity goal is not met, there will be “nowhere to hide.” The source acknowledged that more work needs to be done.
“Despite our efforts, we are still not where we want,” said the source, who requested anonymity in accordance with the practice of royal officials. “This is not to say that we did not promote diversity and inclusion initiatives during this period, but that the results were not what we wanted.”
In an interview with Oprah Winfrey in March, after Prince Harry and Meghan made comments, Buckingham Palace worked hard to quell the criticism. This interview is the most important one since the couple left their royal duties and moved to California.
“Worries” about baby’s skin color
Megan is a mixed-race child, and she said that before she gave birth to her first child, an unidentified member of the royal family raised “concerns” about the color of her child’s skin. The couple also claimed that Megan was a victim of merciless treatment during her work as a family member.
The palace responded at the time that the allegations concerning race were “particularly worrying” and would be “resolved privately by the family”. But critics said that the 61-word statement issued on behalf of the Queen was “too little and too late.”
Watch | Prince William answers questions about racism:
When Harry’s brother Prince William was visiting a school in East London, he was forced to respond after reporters yelled at him for comment.
“We are not a racist family,” William said as his wife Kate walked by his side.
Data on ethnic minorities are released together with employment data on the palace. As of March 31, public funds paid the salaries of 556 Crown employees, down from 580 in the same period last year. Although the total number of employees is divided by gender, men dominate in senior positions. Of the 34 senior employees, 25 are men.
These figures are part of the annual report and sovereign grants, which are public financing mechanisms that provide funding for the Queen’s and her family’s public activities.
The report shows that Harry and Meghan paid 2.4 million pounds (4.1 million Canadian dollars) to compensate the royal family for refurbishing their houses near Windsor Palace, which was funded with public funds when they were members of the royal family. When they decided to withdraw from royal duties, they were asked to repay the money.
Last year, the Queen’s official spending increased by 26% to 87.5 million pounds (150 million Canadian dollars). This includes £31.6 million for the restoration and renovation of Buckingham Palace, almost double the amount last year. Work on this 10-year, £369 million (635 million Canadian dollar) project has accelerated as most public events have been cancelled due to COVID-19.
Sovereign grants are public funds that fund the official work of the royal family. It is calculated as a percentage of the profit generated by Crown Estates, which is a lucrative real estate asset owned by the Queen because of her role as a monarch and must be passed on to her successor. In return for the grant, the profits of Crown Real Estate were turned over to the State Treasury.
According to current regulations, this grant is equivalent to 25% of the estate’s profits two years ago, of which three-fifths of the funds are used for basic expenditures, and two-fifths of the funds are used for the Buckingham Palace project.
Sovereign grants increased by 4.2% last year to 85.9 million pounds (147 million Canadian dollars).