Court officials banned “immigrants of color and foreigners” from holding religious positions in the royal house until at least the 1960s, the Guardian reports, based on newly unearthed documents that have reignited the debate over racism within the British royal family.
The documents also revealed how the palace negotiated controversial provisions in British laws – still in force today – that give the royal family immunity from any responsibility related to racial and sexual discrimination. The documents were discovered in the National Archives during a Guardian investigation into a secret royal family procedure known as the Queen’s Consent, which affects the content of British law.
These documents reveal how Casa Real’s chief financial officer reported, in 1968, that “it was not customary to appoint ‘coloured’ or foreigners” to clerical jobs at Casa Real, although they were “allowed to work as domestic servants”.
The British newspaper writes that it is not clear when the practice stopped working. The palace refused to answer reporters’ questions about the ban and when it was repealed, it said only that there was a record of ethnic minorities employed in the 1990s, but prior to this decade, there are no records on the ethnic origins of employees. .
In the 1960s, the government passed laws making it illegal to refuse to hire anyone on the basis of race or ethnicity. However, the Queen has enjoyed immunity status in this legislation for more than four decades. This situation made it impossible for women or people from ethnic minorities who worked with the royal family to claim court if they faced discrimination.