The first International Day of Nelson Mandela held at the United Nations General Assembly was in 2010. I understand that this event takes place annually and that, 12 years later, the list of speaker options may have dwindled. But how the UN concluded that the best choice for the keynote address in 2022 was Prince Harry is mind boggling.
The royal family seems to have a distorted sense of reality in which they give themselves a pat on the back for their ability to rule in countries that did not need their guidance.
Of course, he has quite a connection with the late civil rights leader. In his speech on Monday, Harry recalled the meeting his mother, Princess Diana, had with Mandela in Cape Town in 1997, when he was 12, and noted that the photo of his mother and the South African president from that occasion still stands to this day. his wall hangs.
Sarcasm aside, the inappropriateness of Harry’s selection as an honored speaker lies not in his pseudo connection, but in the role the country he represents played in South African history. Harry referred Monday to Mandela’s “vision of a freer, more peaceful world” – but the UK has never given its colonies that vision.
Although South Africa was originally colonized by the Dutch in the 17th century, the British occupied the country in the 1790s and officially took over in the early 1800s. After that, South Africa was under British rule for well over a century, fighting uprisings from both the Dutch-descended Afrikaners and the native Zulus. While the British were not in charge of the country’s internal affairs when the Afrikaner-dominated government instituted apartheid in 1948, the British government’s passive stance allowed it to take advantage of South Africa’s resources (such as gold). .
While it’s questionable whether the royal family supported apartheid, former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (and thus the country’s elected government) said strongly opposed to sanctions against South Africa, which much of the world united behind in the 1980s and are believed to have been pivotal in ending apartheid. It is well known that Mandela’s work against apartheid led him to in prison for 27 yearsso the idea that a British royal should celebrate him in front of the UN now smacks of stupidity at best.
It’s not the first time in recent months that the British monarchy has shown how much it doesn’t understand the damage of its history. Prince William and Kate Middleton faced ridicule and protests during their Caribbean tour this spring over the UK’s role in slavery and the desire of the people there to no longer be associated with the country.
Jamaica stated it would try to break away from the British monarchy while the heir to the British throne visited in March, and the couple’s planned visit to the Commonwealth country of Belize was canceled entirely due to demonstrations. The royal family seems to have a distorted sense of reality in which they give themselves a pat on the back for their ability to rule in countries that did not need their guidance.
When Harry spoke on Monday, I believe his intentions were pure. Britain’s past does not negate its apparent attempts to model himself after his late mother, who was more recognizable than other royals and devoted to charitable work, rather than his father Prince Charles. Elsewhere, he has spoken of his privilege, that his biracial wife has helped him appreciate, and how it has cut him off from the suffering of others. However, alliance sometimes means stepping aside to let other voices be heard.
Although Harry no longer holds an official royal position, the benefits still follow him and he can access any stage he wants to be. The UN didn’t have to be its newest platform. Instead, it should support future Mandela’s and give them the recognition that could one day bring about global change as the great South African leader did, and still does.