On the 19th of May, Prince Harry married Meghan Markle in a lavish ceremony in Windsor Castle. It was, at the end of the day, a wedding. Weddings are lovely. It is hard to get annoyed at a wedding. Unless, however, that particular wedding has been taking up over 75% of your news feed for the past two weeks. It becomes even more frustrating when a significant chunk of that 75% is people, and the media, fawning over the inclusive nature of Harry and Meghan’s ceremony, and how lovely it was to see Britain taking such a significant step into the 21st century.
The ceremony was lovely, and diverse, and I think it is amazing that a black woman has married into the royal family. And I think it is even more amazing that the ceremony itself was so unapologetically black in parts; most notably with the Minister and the Gospel Choir, and guests such as Serena Williams, Oprah and Idris Elba. All these things were celebrated by the mainstream media, who seemed to champion Britain’s multiculturalism. And this is where it gets frustrating. The multiculturalism on show had a combined wealth of $21 billion. That $21 billion face covered the front cover of all national newspapers for days after the wedding.
On Monday the 21st of May the government’s Inquiry into the Grenfell tower tragedy was opened. Not a single national newspaper deemed the Grenfell Inquiry important enough to put on its front page. Still those front pages were adorned with Royal Wedding revellers and our self congratulatory and safe approach to a very British multiculturalism. After all, $21 billion worth of the elite celebrating their multiculturalism and inviting us to the periphery of it all to feast off the remains and believe that we are perhaps just like them is far more attractive than being invited to remember 71 dead poor people. 71 dead poor people whose lives were cut short as a result of, I am sure the Inquiry will find, systemic failures played out in the most ugly version of our political and corporate elites obsession with austerity.
I, of course, know that people can care about more than one thing at a time, and I know that we as a country can celebrate the diversity that Meghan Markle brings to the royal family, whilst also being angry about Grenfell, and the huge inequalities that exist in Britain. But we’re not. Every mention of diversity that was celebrated in Windsor Castle, was burned down in Grenfell tower. People camped on the streets of Windsor for days, and were given free food and coffees, and interviewed for international news; meanwhile people who sleep rough on those same streets of Windsor at any other time of year had been told to move as to not spoil the occasion. We as a collective people, and our media, do not care enough about people. We care about diversity if it wears a multibillion dollar price tag. We care about people sleeping on the streets if they’re draped in the Union Jack. There is nothing wrong with getting caught up with how the other half live, but we must stop turning a blind eye to how the other half die.
Up to 600 people are estimated to have lived in Grenfell tower. The same amount of people attended the royal wedding. Whereas the latter dined on £50,000 worth of desserts, and were protected by £30 million worth of security, funded by the taxpayer; many of the former are still waiting to be rehoused. Waiting to know why they and their loved ones weren’t worth fireproof cladding. Waiting on the funding that was promised to them by Theresa May. Waiting for the media to celebrate them, and their diversity, in the way they have celebrated Harry and Meghan’s.
[Sarah Kelly – @_xSarahKelly]