(AP) — Following the Duke and Duchess of Sussex
's allegations of racism
in the royal family
, Buckingham Palace
has released figures on the ethnic makeup of its staff for the first time.
The Royal Household
said Thursday that ethnic minorities make up 8.5% of its workforce, compared to a target of 10% by next year, despite the fact that ethnic minorities account for about 13% of the U.K. population, according to the most recent census data.
According to a senior palace source, publishing the figures was part of an effort to ensure greater accountability because there would be "no place to hide" if diversity
goals were not met, though the source acknowledged that much more work was needed.
“We are not where we would like to be despite our efforts,” the source said on the condition of anonymity, as is customary for royal officials. “It is not that we have not been progressing diversity and inclusion initiatives during this period; it is simply that the results have not been what we would like.”
Buckingham Palace struggled to quell criticism following comments made by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, also known as Prince Harry
and Meghan, during a March interview
with Oprah Winfrey
, the couple's most significant since stepping away from royal duties and relocating to California
Meghan, who is biracial, claimed that an unidentified member of the royal family expressed "concerns" about the color of her baby's skin before she gave birth to her first child
, and that she was subjected to inhumane treatment while working for the royal family.
The palace responded at the time by saying the allegations about race were "particularly concerning" and would be "addressed privately by the family." However, critics dubbed the 61-word statement issued on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II
"too little, too late."
During a visit to an East London school, Prince William
, Harry's older brother, was forced to respond after reporters shouted at him for comment.
“We are not a racist
family,” William stated as his wife, Kate, walked alongside him.
The ethnic minority figures were released alongside data on employment at the palace. As of March 31, public funds paid the salaries of 556 crown employees, down from 580 a year earlier. While the total staff was evenly split along gender
lines, men dominated the senior ranks, with 25 of 34 senior employees being men.
The figures were included in the annual report and accounts for the Sovereign Grant, the public financing mechanism that supports the queen and her family's public activities.
According to the report, Harry and Meghan paid the crown 2.4 million pounds ($3.35 million) to reimburse the crown for the refurbishment of their home near Windsor Palace, which was paid for with public funds when they were working members of the Royal Family, and they were required to repay the money
when they decided to step away from royal duties.
Last year, the Queen's official expenditures increased 26% to 87.5 million pounds ($122 million), including 31.6 million pounds for the repair and remodeling of Buckingham Palace, nearly doubling the previous year's figure. Work on the 10-year, 369-million-pound ($515 million) project was accelerated because most public events were canceled due to COVID-19
The Sovereign Grant is public money that funds the royal family's official work. It is calculated as a percentage of the profit generated by the Crown Estate, which is owned by the queen as part of her role as monarch and must be passed on to her successor. In exchange for the grant, the Crown Estate's profits are turned over to the national treasury.
According to current rules, the grant is equal to 25% of the estate's profit from two years ago, with three-fifths of the money going toward basic expenses and two-fifths going toward the Buckingham Palace project.
Last year, the Sovereign Grant increased by 4.2% to 85.9 million pounds, and the crown drew 1.6 million pounds from reserves.