The French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo has sparked yet another controversy, this time by running a front-page cartoon of an evil-looking Queen Elizabeth kneeling on the neck of a battered Meghan Markle.
“Why Meghan Quit Buckingham,” reads the headline of the issue out Saturday. The figure meant to depict Meghan responds, “Because I couldn’t breathe anymore!”
The scene is pointedly evocative of the death of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed last summer by a Minneapolis police officer who kneeled on his neck. “I can’t breathe,” Floyd said repeatedly, as police refused to let him up.
The provocative cartoon was Charlie Hebdo’s response to Meghan and Prince Harry’s interview with Oprah Winfrey last week, which revealed that there were conversations in the royal family before their son was born about “how dark” his skin might be.
The couple didn’t reveal who made the remarks, but Winfrey later clarified that it wasn’t the queen or Prince Philip.
In a statement on behalf of the queen following the interview, Buckingham Palace said that allegations of racism made by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were “concerning” and being “taken very seriously.” Prince William told a reporter on Thursday that “we’re very much not a racist family.”
Meghan also revealed in the interview that life as a royal was so isolating that she contemplated suicide.
Response to the Charlie Hebdo issue was extremely varied.
Many defended the magazine’s right to print the cartoon as a matter of free speech. Others bashed the magazine for attacking the queen (while some praised it for doing just that).
The comparison between Meghan and Floyd did not sit well with many people: Though Markle experienced racism, she didn’t lose her life. Others saw that to be the exact point of the cartoon, arguing that Markle’s experiences aren’t comparable to Floyd’s death, yet the world seems to be far more transfixed by them.
There was no immediate comment from Buckingham Palace — or from the Sussexes — about the cartoon.
The 50-year-old Paris-based weekly is known for its incendiary covers and boundary-pushing positions.
In 2015, Muslim brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi opened fire at Charlie Hebdo’s offices, killing 12 staffers and wounding 11, after the magazine published satirical cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.