Tuesday, June 6, 2023
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Colleen Harris, the first black member of the royal family, recalls her time with King Charles III

Funny looking back now, the first time I met His Majesty Charles III, then the Prince of Wales, was at the echoed Piccadilly outpost of the British Museum, I was in while there as press officers. He loves anthropology, having studied it at Cambridge, and he came to see the Asante gold mines on a private visit. Many years later, in a twist of fate, after a nervous full interview in a very luxurious room at St James’s Palace, His Royal Highness would hire me as his press secretary – the first black member of the royal family . Spilling the tea all over, Prince Charles politely ignored it. In fact, I hope he finds it funny. During the five years of working with him, he often laughed with me about such “mistakes” that I and others made.

To be honest, I joined his team at a difficult time. Diana, Princess of Wales, died last year and the public was furious with him no matter what he did. The Prince of Wales, who has no clear constitutional role, is aware that there are decades before he becomes king, and he insists on using those decades effectively. He is already passionate about topics considered niche in 2023 and essential in 2023, including sustainability and Diversity, and addressing these issues—whether that means increasing organic crops on his Highgrove estate, or youth outreach through The Prince’s Trust. He also cares deeply about Prince William and Prince Harry. You hear that the royals are not the same – their parenting style is cold and distant – but I have witnessed first hand the affection and affection between His Royal Highness and his sons.

In many ways, it reminds me of my childhood. I come from a different background than the aristocratic young lady who worked for me at the palace, the girls had Horse & Hound and Country Life Subscribers who have been in this world much longer than I have. While my presence at St James’s angered some people, I never questioned my right to be there. My parents immigrated from ex-colonial Guyana to work in the NHS in the 50’s and they were both very proud of their Queen. Most Brits can remember a verse from the national anthem – and in the Caribbean, most people can sing it. I still have the souvenirs my mother bought in honor of Charles and Diana’s wedding on 1981. My family has instilled in me a sense of responsibility to do my part for my country – and, crucially, the UK will support me in return.




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