As a deputy lord lieutenant, I am a personal representative of Her Majesty the Queen in the English county of Nottinghamshire. I am also an Islamic scholar and translator of the Quran. I am intensely proud of my Britishness, my faith, and my South Asian heritage.
In the 10 years I have spent representing the royal family, they have been nothing but respectful of my background. The notion that they are racist is simply out of touch with reality.
This is not to delegitimize Meghan Markle’s experience, or to belittle the inevitable difficulties of someone adapting to royal life — to an existence based on duty, not stardom.
But on many occasions, I, and other members of minority communities, have spent extended periods of time with the royals. If racism was in their DNA, I would have certainly smelt it.
The narrative being eagerly lapped up in parts of the US is that, as the heads of the ex-British empire, the royal family must be the last remaining representatives of colonialism and the ideology that underpins it.
But the royal family is committed to equality through one of the most equal and multicultural institutions in the world: the Commonwealth.
The experience of racism is not the same as racism. There are, for example, lots of innocent reasons to ask about a baby’s skin tone, eye color, or hair color (I’m sure someone will have asked if the baby was likely to be ginger; evidently Oprah Winfrey did not see this as newsworthy).
My faith requires me to have husn al-dhan — to give others the benefit of the doubt. It also instructs me to preserve familial relations, and respect others’ privacy. That’s why the interview was painful — and disappointing — viewing for me.
Airing a family’s dirty laundry (and I am not sure how much laundry there really is) so publicly will not only injure the sensibilities of many Brits, but could be seen as an attack on family values.
The first rule of family life is to support each other, and to air your grievances — however deeply felt — privately. That is true for the royals, and it is true in my own home.
I fear that all Ms. Markle’s actions will achieve is, ironically, to make the royals more cautious when dealing with outsiders. And that will be a loss to us all.
Dr. Musharraf Hussain OBE, DL, is Her Majesty the Queen’s deputy lord lieutenant in Nottinghamshire, and translator of “The Majestic Quran” — a plain English translation of the Quran.
Author: Musharraf Hussain