If there’s anything the British royals are better at than colonizing and bleeding their country’s taxpayers dry—while offering no political or policy benefit in return—it’s the inability to completely misread a room. Case in point, check out what happened when earlier this week a reporter asked Boston Celtics’ swingman Jaylen Brown and head coach Joe Mazzulla how they felt playing in front of Prince William and Princess Kate, the couple formerly known as Harry and Meghan’s siblings/in-laws.
“Um, I know you guys have played in front of a lot of celebrities,” the unseen reporter says. “But what was it like to play in front of royalty tonight? The Prince and Princess of Wales were in the building.”
“It was just a regular game to me,” Brown deadpanned.
Mazulla did him one better after being asked if he got a chance to meet “the royal family” and what it was like to play with them in the building.
“Jesus, Mary and Joseph?” he shot back. “I did not. I’m only familiar with one royal family. I don’t know too much about that one.”
I’m not sure which is funnier: Mazzulla asking if the reporter meant the cast of the Immaculate Conception when she referenced a royal family or the idea that in 2022, Black athletes might feel somehow honored by the presence of OG colonizers at courtside.
In fairness, it wasn’t William and Kate querying Brown and Mazzulla about how important their appearance was at the game. But that the royals continue traveling the world as emissaries for a country where they hold no actual political power and on behalf of a family that’s caused incalculable harm to marginalized people—a family that in many ways is responsible for those people’s marginalization—screams out the need for a reality check.
In nearly every part of the world outside of England, the House of Windsor’s influence is in decline—and the evidence of that is no more clear than among Black folks descended from or living in places where the legacy of British colonialism is still in play. The prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda announced in September that the country plans to remove King Charles as its head of state. Barbados did the same earlier this year, electing the country’s first president and removing Charles’ mother, the late Queen Elizabeth, as head of state.
Across the Caribbean, William and Kate were met with protests this spring and summer as they toured majority-Black former British colonies that have since gained their independence in an attempt to “celebrate” Queen Elizabeth’s 70th (and as it turns out, last) year on the throne. Those protests came to head in Jamaica in March when more than 100 political activists published an open letter demanding reparations from the Windsors for their roles in the Atlantic slave trade and repressive colonialism afterward.
I can’t say for sure if Mazulla or Brown spent any time thinking through the political and economic damage the British royals have done, specifically to people of color around the world throughout history. But it’s hard to imagine that how they responded to being asked about William and Kate’s presence at their game, while others—including Celtics owners Wyc Grousbeck and Steve Pagliuca—fawned over them, didn’t stem from some of the same sentiments that have the formerly colonized Caribbean sending William, Kate and their family’s history packing.