Queen Camilla’s ‘awkward’ interaction with small child sparks race debate

A video clip of Queen Camilla’s interaction with a young black sparked an online race debate on Thursday, as members of the royal family come under increasing scrutiny over allegations of racism made in recent years.

Participating in an engagement, Camilla visited Barnardo’s Nursery in Bow to hand out a number of Paddington Bear stuffed animals left behind in tribute to Queen Elizabeth II after her death in September.

The new queen consort, who has been a patron of Barnardo’s since 2016, organized for the bears to be professionally cleaned and donated to the charity’s vulnerable children. That process started on Thursday.

Queen Camilla Race Debate After Charity Visit
Queen Camilla photographed the handing out of Teddy Bear stuffed animals at Barnardo’s Nursery in Bow, London, 24 November 2022. A video clip has sparked an online debate over race.
Arthur Edwards – WPA Pool/Getty Images

Press footage from the event shows Camilla meeting the charity’s preschoolers. One particular exchange between the royal family and a young black child has sparked comment, with some questioning whether the “awkward” encounter had anything to do with the child’s skin color.

In the clip, widely shared on Twitter, Camilla is shown grabbing the young girl’s arm by the sleeve of her shirt instead of her wrist.

“Watch Camilla do her best not to touch a black baby,” one user wrote. “Don’t let them do this to your kids again for pr. #RacistRoyalFamily”

“Camilla struggles to touch a black kid (and the kids obviously look uncomfortable around her),” wrote another. “The Real Face of the British Monarchy: PR Stunts and Photo Ops.”

An earlier clip that has since been deleted was shared by author and activist Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, who tweeted, “The way Camilla is holding this child’s hand is very disturbing. I have a strong itch to knock her hand off. Who cares she thought she was doing this black kid?

The story seemed to develop as more footage of the exchange was shared, showing the royal family complimenting the child on her “beautiful” bracelet, which could explain her gesture with the sleeve.

A Twitter user who shared the earlier video deleted it and posted a clarification, stating that while it may not have been as bad as first thought, it was still an awkward moment.

“I’ve removed the shorter music video to watch this slightly longer one,” they wrote. “Still an awkward moment for Camilla, but not as disturbing as I originally thought. At the risk of sounding stilted, she tried not to intimidate.”

In response to the video, some users defended the royal family, with a response reading, “You’re projecting. She doesn’t look uncomfortable with the kid at all. I’m not a fan of Camilla, but you’re reading things that aren’t there.”

“Many of the Barnardo’s children have already suffered, heartbreakingly, abuse, trauma and loss around adults,” said another. “Camilla did 100% the right thing – she was hesitant and gave the child autonomy in their interaction. In the end, she DID get the hand. Bravo Camilla, you did a great job.”

When contacted by News week Buckingham Palace declined to comment.

Queen Camilla meets children at Bernardo's Charity
Queen Camilla photographed with a child in Barnardo’s nursery in Bow, London, 24 November 2022. There is a racial debate going on around the royals.
Arthur Edwards – WPA Pool/Getty Images

This isn’t the first time Camilla has come under scrutiny for race. In 2021, during her groundbreaking interview with Oprah Winfrey, Meghan Markle spoke about the racism she faced in the British media while a working member of the royal family.

While discussing race with the TV presenter, the Duchess also revealed that an unnamed member of the royal family had made racially insensitive comments about the possible skin color of her future children with Prince Harry, an incident the Prince himself later admitted in the interview referred to.

The allegation sparked widespread condemnation from the royals, and in the following days Prince William gave a rare reply to a journalist who asked if the royals were racist. “We are not a racist family at all,” he said.

The allegations led many to speculate that Camilla was the unnamed royal behind the comment.

In 2022, author Tom Bower wrote in his biography Revenge: Meghan, Harry and the war between the Windsors that the comments may indeed have come from the Duchess.

“According to Harry, someone was speculating what his future child would look like,” he wrote of the allegations he repeated against Winfrey.

“In one version, Camilla remarked, ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if your kid had red afro hair?’ Harry laughed. Then Meghan’s reaction to that conversation turned Harry’s amusement into anger.”

At the time, Clarence House, who handled communications from the then Duchess, declined to comment on the book.

William and Kate Caribbean Tour photo controversy
Prince William and Kate Middleton photographed a meeting with well-wishers in Jamaica on March 22, 2022. The pair faced backlash over the ill-chosen photo opportunity.
Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage

Since Harry and Meghan’s allegations, the royals have come under increasing scrutiny for their interactions with black people. Kate Middleton and Prince William faced a wave of backlash in March after they were photographed through a chain-link fence while shaking hands with members of the public during their Caribbean tour.

King Charles also recently faced a similar PR storm after video footage appeared to show him neglecting to shake hands with a black member of the crowd waiting to see Queen Elizabeth II laid in state.

Do you have a question about King Charles III, William and Kate, Meghan and Harry or their families that you would like our experienced royal correspondents to answer? Email [email protected] We’d love to hear from you.

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