Prince Harry has admitted he did not know unconscious racist bias existed until he was ‘living a day or a week in my wife’s shoes’ following his marriage to Meghan Markle.
The Duke of Sussex, 36, spoke about racism in an interview with Black Lives Matter activist Patrick Hutchinson for GQ magazine and admitted his ‘upbringing and education’ did not equip him to understand the issue.
Harry said: ‘Once you realise or you feel a little bit uncomfortable, then the onus is on you to go out and educate yourself, because ignorance is no longer an excuse.
‘And unconscious bias, from my understanding, having the upbringing and the education that I had, I had no idea what it was. I had no idea it existed. And then, sad as it is to say, it took me many, many years to realise it, especially then living a day or a week in my wife’s shoes.’
Harry spoke from his £11million home in Montecito, California, during a candid chat with activist Mr Hutchinson for the GQ Heroes conference, which runs this week.
The image of ‘superhero’ father Mr Hutchinson rescuing suspected far-Right protester Bryn Male during London race violence in June became an iconic photograph during the BLM demonstrations.
In the interview, Harry also said:
- Men have ‘especially’ been suffering from isolation during the coronavirus pandemic this year;
- Admitted ‘everyone gets themselves into trouble at some point’ but ‘it’s how you learn from it’ that matters;
- Said ‘not everyone’s going to get it right’ when asked how white people are scared of ‘saying the wrong thing’.
Prince Harry reveals the ‘upbringing and education’ that he had meant he had no idea about unconscious bias and that walking a week in Meghan Markle’s shoes helped him understand
The Duke also spoke about the struggle of lockdown especially for men, saying: ‘For so many people, but men especially, I guess, everyone’s been suffering from some form of isolation over the last eight, nine months.
‘But for men who are isolated by themselves this can be a really dark place, unless you know the different solutions or different distractions that you can put into your life: whether it’s going for a great walk or a run or just doing something that keeps you mentally and physically fit. So I love that.’
Prince Harry on racism, Black Lives Matter and the coronavirus lockdown
- On doing things wrong in life: ‘Everyone gets themselves into trouble at some point. It’s how you learn from it’
- On the coronavirus lockdown: ‘For so many people, but men especially, I guess, everyone’s been suffering from some form of isolation over the last eight, nine months.’
- On Black Lives Matter demonstrations: ‘The actual fundamental purpose of the protests was, and still remains, an incredibly important global movement.’
- On unconscious bias: ‘Once you realise or you feel a little bit uncomfortable, then the onus is on you to go out and educate yourself, because ignorance is no longer an excuse.’
- On Meghan: ‘Sad as it is to say, it took me many, many years to realise it (unconscious bias), especially then living a day or a week in my wife’s shoes.
- On the diversity of BLM activists: ‘This isn’t black versus white. Now in 2020 we have protestors of every colour, every background, every religion, every age.’
- On racism in society: ‘If there are many people that don’t feel as though things are progressing as fast as they should be, then we need to take a long, hard look at ourselves.’
- On white people ‘saying the wrong thing’: ‘People are desperately trying to get it right – and even when trying to get it right, get it massively wrong.’
- On BLM activist Patrick Hutchinson: ‘I think you are a shining example of how every single human being should operate and work and function.’
Also in the interview, Mr Hutchinson admitted he ‘got into a few scrapes with some of my friends’, and Harry replied: ‘Everyone gets themselves into trouble at some point. It’s how you learn from it.’
Harry also gave his thoughts about ‘saying the wrong thing’ after Mr Hutchinson told him: ‘Everything is up for discussion, because there’s so much to talk about and people need to not be afraid. I think that can be a part of it. For some white people, I think they can be afraid. They’re scared of saying the wrong thing, possibly.’
The Duke said: ‘Not everyone’s going to get it right. And from what I’ve seen, people are desperately trying to get it right – and even when trying to get it right, get it massively wrong.
‘And as long as everyone comes at it with an element of, as you say, compassion, because it is scary for people, and it is the case that you’re probably going to get it wrong, you just jump in both feet first.
‘And you may still get it wrong, but I guarantee you there’ll be the right support structure and people around to go, “You know what? A word of warning: maybe do this and don’t say that.”’
The interview was carried out last Monday, six weeks after GQ approached Harry to ask him if he wanted to chat with Mr Hutchinson as part of the magazine’s coverage supporting Black History Month.
The image of ‘superhero’ father Mr Hutchinson rescuing suspected far-Right protester Bryn Male during London race violence in June went viral around the world.
Mr Male, a former policeman from Basingstoke, Hampshire, was hurt in a brawl during the protest that saw him join thousands of pound thronging the capital to ‘defend’ statues.
Some far-Right thugs attacked police and made Nazi salutes and monkey gestures at anti-racism protesters. Rival activists then began looking for revenge.
Mr Male, wearing a Millwall football shirt and said to be swaying, was confronted near Waterloo Station and was heard telling activists: ‘F*** Black Lives Matter.’
He was slapped, he fell over, then was picked up and helped by a 26-year-old musicican known as Tichmatic. But someone else sent Mr Male flying with a kick.
Pictures showed Tichmatic escorting Mr Male down a set of stairs on London’s South Bank when a member of the mob sent the former police officer hurtling by kicking him in the back.
Mr Hutchinson, a 6ft 1in personal trainer from Croydon, South London, then rescued the man as he was being set upon by the angry crowd.
The iconic photograph of ‘superhero’ father Mr Hutchinson rescuing protester Bryn Male during London race violence in June
He was described as representing ‘the best of human behaviour’ by MPs, and his daughters said his actions will help to create a brighter future.
Prince Harry was opening the GQ Heroes conference, and his full interview with Patrick Hutchinson is in GQ magazine
Mr Hutchinson had travelled to London with four friends with the aim of stopping young anti-racism protesters from being drawn into confrontations with far-Right thugs.
The former IT analyst had been due to babysit but answered a call from a friend assembling a team to help ‘keep the peace’ on the capital’s streets.
Asked about his actions, Mr Hutchinson told Harry: ‘We were pleased that we’d been able to avert a serious, serious situation. Yeah, I would do it for anybody and I would do it time and time again.
‘It’s just not something you think about. I know you’ve been in the armed forces and I know you’ve seen some things that lots of us haven’t seen, so for me, I don’t know, it’s just a mentality. It’s something you just have within you.
‘You don’t worry about your own personal self or wellbeing. You just go in and do what you have to do and then afterwards you think, “Oh, my gosh. How did I do that?” But when adrenaline kicks in, there’s no fear.’
Mr Hutchinson, who was born in Coventry but raised in London’s Battersea, has four children aged eight, 11, 25 and 30, as well as four grandchildren.
Harry and Mr Hutchinson also spoke about the 1972 ITV sitcom Love Thy Neighbour which has faced much criticism for its handling of race issues.
Mr Hutchinson said: ‘If I sat and watched that now, I’d absolutely be horrified. But I watched that, you know, not so long ago. I sat and watched that, even enjoyed it in parts.
‘So that tells you that we will make progress and we do make progress and ten years from now there will be progress.’
Prince Harry was opening the GQ Heroes conference in conversation with Patrick Hutchinson, and the full interview features in GQ magazine