- In October Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were named recipients of a prestigious human rights award.
- The couple will receive the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights’ Ripple of Hope award on December 6.
- The nonprofit’s president now says Harry and Meghan are being recognized for standing up to racism.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are receiving a Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights award because of their “courage” to stand up to racism within the royal institution, according to Kerry Kennedy.
Kennedy, one of the former US Attorney-General’s surviving children, is the president of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, a nonprofit that gives out an array of awards to individuals “for their transformative work in the pursuit of a more just and peaceful world.”
In October, the organization announced the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were among those receiving the Ripple of Hope award on December 6. Other recipients include Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Bill Russel, a former professional basketball player and civil rights figurehead.
But Kennedy has now specified that Harry and Meghan’s “moral courage” is why they are among the 2022 recipients in a recent interview with Spanish publication El Confidencial.
“They went to the oldest institution in UK history and told them what they were doing wrong, that they couldn’t have structural racism within the institution; that they could not maintain a misunderstanding about mental health,” said Kennedy, who is also human rights lawyer.
“They knew that if they did this there would be consequences, that they would be ostracized, they would lose their family, their position within this structure, and that people would blame them for it,” she added. “They have done it anyway because they believed they couldn’t live with themselves if they didn’t question this authority.”
Kennedy compared the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to her father, whom she said went to South Africa during apartheid in the 1960s to speak about racial justice. “He also spoke of moral courage, saying that few would have the courage to question their colleagues, family and community about the power structure they maintained,” she said. “This is what Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have done.”
What Meghan and Harry have said about racism within the royal institution
The couple gradually began discussing their experience of racism within the royal institution after they stepped back from royal life in January 2020.
During their interview with Oprah Winfrey in March 2021, Harry said racism in the British press and within the royal institution played a big part in their reason to leave their positions as working royals.
Meghan, who is biracial, also shared intimate details of her experience as a woman of color in an otherwise white institution during the interview. For example, she revealed that there had been “concerns and conversations” among the royal family about Archie’s potential skin color while she was pregnant.
The couple refused to name anyone involved in the discussions, though Winfrey later said it was not the Queen or Prince Philip.
Buckingham Palace later issued a short statement saying the royal family was “saddened to learn” of the extent of the couple’s challenges during their time in the institution.
“The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning,” read the statement, made on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II. “While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately. Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much-loved family members.”
The Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights nonprofit, Buckingham Palace, and representatives for Meghan and Harry did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.