Why India must leave the Commonwealth

Representation image (Photo: Twitter | @KensingtonRoyal)

Was it Kate Middleton? Or Prince William? Or Prince Charles? Who asked about the colour of the skin of Archie, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s son? In this ongoing blood-feud between the two British royal sistersin- law, Kate and Meghan, Meghan seems to have drawn blood this round.

The British press is calling Megxit the biggest scandal to hit its royalty since the abdication of King Edward VIII a full eighty-five years ago. Harry and Meghan have leveled serious allegations of racism and neglect at the Palace. The Palace has responded, saying that it will conduct an investigation, while qualifying that there might be conflicting accounts. That just means to imply that Meghan’s revelations may not be exactly true. The Palace has further said the investigation will be a family affair, meaning that no one outside the family will get to know the result, barring leaks of course.

The Commonwealth was previously known as the British Commonwealth. It is an aggregation of nations, white and coloured, which were formerly under British rule. White nations like Australia and Canada were treated fairly by the British. Coloured nations like India and Kenya were raped and pillaged by them. India became a republic in 1950. That meant that its sovereign was no longer the British queen then. In a masterful act of British ingenuity, republics were allowed to enter the British Commonwealth. And the name of the body was changed to the more egalitarian Commonwealth.

In a sign of changing times, India has reportedly urged that the headship of the Commonwealth be rotated between its members. This suggestion has of course met with fierce resistance from the British. India has not pushed its case further and seems to have gracefully accepted that Charles, once he ascends the British throne, will automatically become the head of the Commonwealth. There is a moral authority vested in the head of the Commonwealth, that in a grouping so varied in colours and creeds and cultures, the head of the Commonwealth and his or her family will set an example for the group to follow.

Take the case of Charles. He cheated on his wife, Diana, who died in an accident. Then Charles made his mistress his wife. Take the case of the Duke of York, Prince Andrew. He first kept company of the former prime minister of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi, who was accused of being a paedophile. Now American authorities want to question Andrew for the role he might have played in the pedophiliac scandal enveloping the associates of the American financier, Jeffrey Epstein, who committed suicide.

The Palace refuses to make Andrew available to American authorities for questioning. Harry himself had a tumultuous youth. He is accused of making a racial slur against a Pakistani comrade and donning Nazi uniforms to parties. And Prince Philip himself, the queen’s husband no less, is known to often make disparaging comments against Bangladeshis and others. This then is the state of the British monarchy at its highest levels. With what moral authority is it going to lead the Commonwealth whose very members it disparages?

Gandhi fought against colour prejudice all his life, first in South Africa, and then in India, which he rescued from the white clutches of Britain. But now we seem to be condoning that very organization which appears to be practicing racism. Meghan might not have been altogether truthful in her interview to Oprah Winfrey, but there is no denying that her son Archie has been denied the title of prince while his cousins have received their titles.

Kate and William’s first-born, George, automatically got the title of prince because he’s directly in line of succession to the throne. George’s younger siblings, Charlotte and Louis, were not automatically conferred a title. The queen had to make an intervention in each case to make them a princess and a prince respectively. But Archie, Meghan and Harry’s kid, was denied a princely title because of the colour of his skin, Meghan now alleges. How despicable that is if it is true. The fact of the matter though is that the queen hasn’t made an intervention to make Archie a prince. That is an indisputable fact.

Fish rots from the top. The Commonwealth is rotting today because its head is rotting. Which other monarchy anywhere in the world makes as much drama as the British royalty? We made the British quit India in 1947 and got rid of their colour prejudice. Their colour prejudice is still alive and kicking. Why should we make ourselves subject to it? India must forthwith leave the Commonwealth.

The writer is an expert on energy and contributes regularly to publications in India and overseas.