Buckingham Palace barred ethnic minorities from jobs in the 1960s according to information discovered in royal household archive documents. In the documents unearthed by The Guardian newspaper, Lord Tryon, the keeper of the privy purse at the time spoke of minorities in the royal workforce.
In 1968, The Queen’s financial manager informed civil servants that “it was not, in fact, the practice to appoint coloured immigrants or foreigners” to clerical roles within the household. Although, there was an exception for minorities to work as domestic servants. During this time, the government negotiated with royal aides to make an exemption for The Queen, and the royal household from the legislation drafted to prevent racial discrimination.
A Whitehall official reports palace aides suggested The Queen’s household fell into “three different categories” during the 1960s. The A category was for senior posts, positions not filled by advertising. It was presumed the appointments would be accepted as outside the scope of the bill. In the B category, were clerical and other office posts which did not practice appointing coloured immigrants or foreigners. In the final category, the C category were ordinary domestic posts in which coloured applicants were freely considered.
In response to the recent unveiling of the documents, a Buckingham Palace spokesperson said: “The royal household and the sovereign comply with the provisions of the Equality Act, in principle and in practice. This is reflected in the diversity, inclusion and dignity at work policies, procedures and practices within the royal household.
“Any complaints that might be raised under the act follow a formal process that provides a means of hearing and remedying any complaint.”
Legislation was passed after an exemption was agreed upon meaning the Race Relations Board dealt with allegations of racial discrimination made by members of the royal household rather than the courts. The exemption still remains in place under the 2010 Equality Act which replaced the 1976 Race Relations Act, the 1975 Sex Discrimination Act, and the 1970 Equal Pay Act.
It is noted that records on representation were not kept at the palace before the 1990s making it unknown when minorities were first employed in clerical roles.