Monday, March 26, 2018

John Malveaux: First bi-racial Queen supported classical composers

A Thomas Gainsborough painting 
of Queen Charlotte 
(Ivy Close Images / Alamy Stock Photo)

John Malveaux of 

he news of American actress and philanthropist Meghan Markle’s engagement to Britain’s Prince Harry is sure to paper the headlines for the foreseeable future. Exhaustive coverage promises to address every possible take on the life and times of the bride-to-be—from why she’ll be given military training before she joins the royal family to the cocktails that have already been inspired by her engagement.

But since the story broke that Markle said yes to the prince’s proposal earlier this month, the press has especially fixated on Markle’s racial identity. That’s because, as the Los Angeles native wrote in a July 2015 ELLE magazine piece, she identifies as biracial; her father is white, and her mother is black.

The historical significance of Markle’s entrance into the House of Windsor is clear, especially because as DeNeen L. Brown of the Washington Post pointed out earlier this week, it opens up the question: is Markle the first biracial woman to marry into the British royal family?

As Brown explains, the answer is complicated. In an interview with African diaspora historian Mario De Valdes y Cocom, the scholar tells Brown that her research points not to Markle but rather the late 18th-century royal Queen Sophia Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz as being England’s first biracial queen.

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