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'Why are royals so white?' BBC show Talkback's astonishing tweet sparks angry public backlash

By Deborah McAleese

Published 28/07/2016

Prince George
Prince George
A tweet from the BBC Talkback Twitter account
Some of the reaction to it
Angela Gibbins of the British Council

BBC Talkback has sparked a furious row after posting a tweet asking why the royal family is "so white".

The Radio Ulster programme's Twitter account was bombarded with angry comments from the public.

One described the tweet as one of the "most pathetic" they had ever seen.

On Tuesday the popular radio show hosted a debate on the issue.

The discussion arose from social media comments made by an employee of the British Council who criticised three-year-old Prince George, third in line to the throne, for living a life free of hardship and benefiting from "white privilege".

To highlight the discussion Talkback tweeted: "Why are the Royal Family so 'white', given UK society is so ethnically-diverse these days?"

The BBC has defended the tweet.

During the debate Talkback host William Crawley asked how we could have a monarchy that wasn't as brown as the UK itself.

"In modern Britain, we're a very diverse society," he said.

"The royals don't look like us anymore."

Guest Frank Shivers said it was ridiculous to attack the Windsors for their racial make-up.

"I don't have any black people in (my) family, does that make me a racist?" the DUP man said.

One caller said: "We should get rid of the royal family and elect a president."

The tweet advertising the debate invoked a heated reaction online.

Several commentators described it as "incredibly stupid" and "pathetic".

In defence, the BBC said: "Talkback highlighted an issue being discussed by using the phraseology at the centre of this story. Our tweets directed audiences to the comments that had been made by a member of British Council staff and were a legitimate subject of debate."

Reacting to the Talkback tweet, one Twitter user wrote: "What's wrong with being 'white', you make out it's some kind of crime to be 'white'."

The response was 'liked' more than 1,000 times.

Another wrote: "What an incredibly stupid statement."

And somebody else asked: "What are you suggesting we do? Paint them?"

Other comments included: "This has to be the most pathetic tweet I've ever seen." "Is it a crime now for being white?" And "didn't realise being white was a mark against someone".

One woman said she initially thought the Talkback Twitter page was a joke account.

"I thought it must be satire. Had hoped choice of royal spouses was (finally) about sentiment rather than politics," she wrote.

Another posted: "I cannot believe my eyes!!! Is this tweet a joke?!"

Ukip member Mike Green from Burton joined in and said: "Have I slipped in to a parallel universe?"

While another Twitter user wrote: "What did I just read... Stop the planet, I want to get off."

Dozens of critical posts were 'liked' and retweeted several hundred times.

Some were endorsed more than 1,000 times.

However, one commentator said: "Seems obvious it's about the royals being unrepresentative and elitist. Listen to the actual debate before judging."

The radio debate was sparked by newspaper reports of comments made on a social media account about Prince George by Angela Gibbins, a manager at the British Council.

Posting a message beneath a picture of the young prince, she wrote: "White privilege. That cheeky grin is the innate knowledge he's royal, rich and will never know any difficulties or hardships in life."

She added: "Let's find photos of 3 (year-old) Syrian refugee children and see if they look alike, eh?"

She also used an expletive to describe the toddler's facial expression in the picture, which was taken for a series of stamps commemorating the Queen's 90th birthday.

When she was criticised by other Facebook users, Ms Gibbins is said to have responded: "I'm sound in my socialist, atheist and republican opinions.

"I don't believe the royal family have any place in a modern democracy, least of all when they live on public money. That's privilege and it needs to end."

The British Council is to investigate, and said the comments were not representative of the organisation's views.

Belfast Telegraph

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