By Sarah E. Gaither
March 9, 2021
I like to think that I have something of a cosmic connection to Meghan Markle, the former actor who married Prince Harry, of the British royal family. I too am a biracial Black-white woman who married a white man. My first child is also named Archie (well, mine is a pit bull mix, but still a coincidence), and I also sit here pregnant (expecting twins!), with a summer due date. And, like Markle, the question of “what my kids might look like” has been asked of me time and time again.
It can sometimes feel as if it’s up to biracial people, or people in interracial relationships, to make white people feel comfortable about skin color. I know this not only personally, but as a psychologist and researcher who studies multiracial people.
Markle revealed in her bombshell interview with Oprah Sunday night that after announcing her pregnancy to the royal family, there were “concerns and conversations about how dark [Archie’s] skin was going to be when he was born.” Despite Oprah’s shocked reaction, it’s hard for me to believe that she’s really surprised.
Considering the racialized history of the British royal family — including the queen’s distant relative, Elizabeth I, who played a key role in the British slave trade — it feels totally expected that the royal family was “concerned” that their unborn grandchild might appear Black. Markle was the first modern-day Black-identified person to be considered a member of that family, which was by itself a revolutionary moment in the history of the royals. But she herself is very light-skinned, which I believe made her entry into the royal family much easier than it would have been if she were darker.
Markle’s level of Blackness may have been somewhat tolerated by the royals, but the actual royal bloodline being “tainted” by her Blackness would need some reassurance. Thus, the ambiguity of what her son Archie might look like, if his appearance would “color” the royal family further, was a source of contention.