On Wednesday, The Queen hosted around 50 members of her family at Buckingham Palace for her annual pre-Christmas lunch before she and Prince Philip set off to Sandringham until mid-February.
This year, an extra buzz was in the air as the bride-to-be, Meghan Markle joined Prince Harry at the dinner table. It was the first time she was to meet many of who will soon be her family, and as such, she was probably nervous to make a good impression on them, they were excited to welcome her.
However, tensions may have been raised after Princess Michael of Kent showed up wearing an offensive piece of jewellery. The royal, who is married to The Queen’s cousin Prince Michael of Kent, had on display a blackamoor brooch which “fetishise slavery” according to Harpers Bazaar.
The consensus today is that blackamoor art is offensive and has many negative connotations. People have expressed their shock and concern on social media about Princess Michael wearing the brooch.
One user wrote: “Princess Michael of Kent isn’t exactly known for her tact but her choice of brooch yesterday for the Queen’s Christmas lunch can’t have been a coincidence and it was disgusting.”
Another wrote: “Has no-one noticed the blackamoor pin that Princess Michael of Kent is wearing.? Really? Meghan Markle official meets the family and is greeted by THIS?”
Blackamoor rose to popularity in the 18th century during the Early Modern Period. They are often African males depicting a servant. Full body depictions involve them in an unrealistic pose to hold for any length of time.
In both 2012 and 2013, fashion house Dolce & Gabanna caused an uproar as they used the art in two separate collections. First earrings and then on a fabric print.
Princess Michael has a history of making allegedly racist remarks, including an instance in 2004 where she apparently told a group of black diners to ‘go back to the colonies’ during a row.
Her Royal Highness strongly denied the allegations, claiming she actually said that she would be ‘ready to go back to the colonies.’
Since then, she has made some cringe-worthy comments including during an interview about her time in Africa.
She said: “I even pretended years ago to be an African, a half-caste African, but because of my light eyes I did not get away with it, but I dyed my hair black.
“I travelled on African buses. I wanted to be a writer. I wanted experiences from Cape Town to right up in northern Mozambique. I had this adventure with these absolutely adorable, special people and to call me racist: it’s a knife through the heart because I really love these people.”
It has been reported the Ms Markle spoke with Princess Michael of Kent during the lunch, but as the brooch was on her jacket, it would be likely that Meghan may have not even seen it.
An article by NYU Stories did a story on the blackamoor collection in 2015 interviewing Awam Amkpa, curator and NYU professor of Africana studies who at the time had an exhibit of the largest collection of the art in North America.
Speaking of the art and its depiction, he explained the issue as its “to say that Africans are more acceptable as pieces of art than as fellow citizens.”
Ampka was asked by Dolce & Gabanna to work with them on their collection to which he refused. As for the earrings which the designers produced, he was worried about them playing off the “fetish” side of the blackamoor history.