The Duke of Sussex has said his upbringing as a privileged member of the royal family resulted in him having no understanding of unconscious racial bias, and called for others in a similar situation to “educate themselves”.
Prince Harry made the comments during a conversation with Patrick Hutchinson, the south London personal trainer who was photographed carrying a far-right protester to safety during unrest at an anti-Black Lives Matter rally this summer.
The prince spoke with Hutchinson via a video call from his home in Santa Barbara, California, and said it was only through witnessing the experiences of his wife, Meghan, that he had gained a sense of how pernicious unconscious bias is.
The prince said that during his childhood he had “no idea it existed” and it was only after “living a day or a week in [his] wife’s shoes” that he began to understand it.
Harry added: “No one’s pointing the fingers. You can’t really point fingers, especially when it comes to unconscious bias. But once you realise or you feel a little bit uncomfortable, then the onus is on you to go out and educate yourself, because ignorance is no longer an excuse.”
The two men were talking during the GQ Heroes festival, the men’s magazine’s annual summit of ideas and culture, and Hutchinson explained what happened on the day that led to his image being published on newspaper front pages in the UK.
Hutchinson went to a counter-demonstration against the far right with some friends in June to protect young Black Lives Matter activists. They spotted a far-right protester being dragged through a crowd near the Royal Festival Hall, and the personal trainer intervened and carried him to safety.
Hutchinson said he was “pleased that we’d been able to avert a serious, serious situation”, that he “would do it for anybody” and would happily do it again.
Speaking about the global anti-racism protests, he said: “It just makes you wonder why people find it so hard to understand what we’re all striving for: the equality side of things. And why they find it hard to understand. I just struggle with that.”
The prince praised Hutchinson, saying he was “a shining example of how every single human being should operate and work and function”.
“Even at a time when you have two groups that are at each other on such a visceral level, all that aside, no red mist in you, you just came in, you did what was necessary and you saved a life,” he said.
The prince’s comments came after the Duchess of Sussex said she was unaware the UK had its own Black History Month and helped launch a campaign to celebrate black British “trailblazers” with the Evening Standard.
The campaign recognised a number “of notable leaders whose influence is making a positive and lasting impact on British culture”, including the disability campaigner Danielle Oreoluwa Jinadu and Liv Little, the founder of gal-dem magazine.