Meghan Markle, Prince Harry Acknowledge 'Uncomfortable' Past of Britain's Empire

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have launched an "uncomfortable" debate about racism and Britain's former empire, saying we have to "acknowledge the past."

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex spoke out against institutional racism and unconscious bias in a conference call with the Queen's Commonwealth Trust.

Queen Elizabeth II has not spoken out about Black Lives Matter and has never apologized for the crimes of the British Empire.

Nearly all of the Commonwealth's 54 member states were part of the British Empire.

Prince Harry said: "When you look across the Commonwealth, there is no way that we can move forward unless we acknowledge the past."

Meghan said: "It's not just in the big moments, it's in the quiet moments where racism and unconscious bias lies and hides and thrives.

"It makes it confusing for a lot of people to understand the role that they play in that, both passively and actively."

She added: "We're going to have to be a little uncomfortable right now because it's only in pushing through that discomfort that we get to the other side of this and find the place where a high tide raises all ships.

"Equality does not put anyone on the back foot, it puts us all on the same footing—which is a fundamental human right."

The discussion, on July 1 last week, involved "young leaders" from the Trust's network and was part of a weekly discussion launched in response to the Black Lives Matter movement.

The organization says it "exists to champion, fund and connect young leaders around the world."

Meghan Markle backed Black Lives Matter in a moving speech last month for graduating students of her former Los Angeles school Immaculate Heart.

And Prince Harry spoke out last week on institutional racism, saying it is "endemic" in society.

However, Queen Elizabeth II, head of the Commonwealth, has never publicly acknowledged the past crimes of empire or apologized for the slave trade, despite calls from campaigners.

Her son Prince Charles acknowledged slavery was an "appalling atrocity" on a visit to Ghana in 2018.

Meghan said: "So we look at the Commonwealth, and I know part of the conversation we're going to explore later on is looking at the history of that, you start looking on that macro-level you also have to start looking on the more micro level.

"Each of us, individually, what have we done in our past that we can put our hand up and I think this is a moment of reckoning where so many people are saying, you know what, I need to own that."

Prince Harry added: "We can't deny or ignore the fact that all of us have been educated to see the world differently.

"However, once you start to realize that there is that bias there, then you need to acknowledge it, you need to do the work to become more aware... so that you can help stand up for something that is so wrong and should not be acceptable in our society today."

Correction 10:04 a.m. 7/6/2020: This story was updated to reflect the fact Prince Charles spoke out about slavery in 2018.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Trooping
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle ride by carriage down the Mall during Trooping The Colour, the Queen's annual birthday parade, on June 08, 2019 in London, England. Samir Hussein/Getty