‘Coloured immigrants' banned from senior royal roles

Buckingham Palace banned ‘coloured immigrants or foreigners’ from senior roles, reveals historical documents
2 min read
03 June, 2021
'Coloured immigrants or foreigners' were banned from serving in senior roles until at least the 1960s, documents reveal, once again reigniting debates about the royal's controversial relationship with race and racism.
The documents also reveal that the Queen has been personally exempt from racial equality laws for more than four decades [LightRocket via Getty]

The Queen’s courtiers banned "coloured immigrants or foreigners'' from serving in clerical roles in the royal household until at least the late 1960s, documents from The National Archives have revealed.

Excluded from more senior and higher paying roles, ethnic minority communities were employed as domestic workers during this period.

The documents add to ongoing debates about the British royal family's historical and contemporary relationship with race and racism.

"It was not, in fact, the practice to appoint coloured immigrants or foreigners" to clerical and other office posts, said the Queen’s chief financial manager to government officials in 1968 according to the archived papers. "Coloured applicants" were considered only for "ordinary domestic posts", it read.

Buckingham Palace refused to answer questions about the ban and when it was revoked, according to The Guardian’s report released on Wednesday.

The Palace said its records show people from ethnic minority backgrounds were employed in the 1990s. Before this, it did not keep records on staff's racial backgrounds.

The documents also reveal that the Queen has been personally exempt from racial equality laws for more than four decades. "The exemption," according to The Guardian, "has made it impossible for women or people from ethnic minorities working for her household to complain to the courts if they believe they have been discriminated against."

The Queen’s exemption came into force in the 1970s, when a series of racial and sexual equality laws were implemented with the aim of eradicating discrimination in the UK.

The archived documents express concern from the royal household that "the proposed legislation... would for the first time make it legally possible to criticise the [Queen’s] Household. It would not be possible for the Household to reply publicly to such criticism". The exemption still exists today.

The story has sparked a flurry of comments on social media, many referring to Harry and Meghan's interview with Oprah Winfrey in March when the couple accused the royal household of racist comments.

Meghan, the first mixed-race member of the British royal family, made allegations that other royal family members were concerned over the skin colour of her unborn child.