They insist that the generational gap between Charlotte and her assumed African forebear is so vast as to make the notion ridiculous. Others argue that even the evidence that Madragana was black is itself sketchy.
David Williamson, the late co-editor of Debrett’s Peerage, once opined: “It really is so remote. In any case, all European royal families somewhere are linked to the kings of Castile. There is a lot of Moorish blood in the Portuguese royal family and it has diffused over the rest of Europe. The question is, who cares?”
The answer, of course, is rather a lot of people. As historian Professor Kate Williams has noted: “If she was black, this raises a lot of important suggestions about not only our royal family, but those of most of Europe, considering that Queen Victoria’s descendants are spread across most of the royal families of Europe and beyond. If we class Charlotte as black, then ergo Queen Victoria and our entire royal family, [down] to Prince Harry, are also black… a very interesting concept.”
If we use that one drop rule, where octoroons were still slaves, does this mean that Caroline herself, or any descendants, were or are “black”. This not, of course, being anything close to what we, in England, have traditionally used as a definition of “black”. Probably, precisely because we didn’t have slavery here as a race based institution. Therefore the idea of having to have some strict dividing line wasn’t relevant.
The American definition is of that one drop kind. Which is why someone like Meghan, who we English wouldn’t describe as black, seems to think of herself as being so.
To use an analogy. Between my father and I we could – without considering that little talent bar – have played rugby for any of the four home nations, soccer for any of the five, all based on the grandparent rule. No one at all would ever describe either of us as other than English. Or to go further back, one g g granny was a bit of a goer. Couple of marriages, at least one divorce, the birth certificate for one child has marginalia “born 11 months after husband’s death” and hell, much of this was in 19th century Oz. G granny from this source was born in Callao, Peru. Possibly of the husband (English) of the time, possibly of the mestizo (Spanish/Amerind) known to be hanging around.
Anyone therefore going to call me First Nations or summat? Lizzie Warren stylee? No, clearly and obviously not. So all this about Charlotte is bollocks in this English sense then, isn’t it?