The Duchess of Sussex has addressed the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week in a powerful video message. Meghan recorded the six-minute clip for the graduation of the class of 2020 at her former high school, Immaculate Heart, in Los Angeles on Thursday.
Floyd, 46, died in police custody on May 25 after being arrested on suspicion of using counterfeit currency. Former police officer Derek Chauvin was filmed kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes as he lay on the floor in handcuffs.
All four officers present were fired following Floyd’s death, which has since sparked protests against police brutality across the United States and around the world. Chauvin was initially charged with third-degree murder, however this has since been upgraded to second-degree murder, while the three other ex-officers present have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder, and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.
“What is happening in our country and in our state and in our hometown of LA… I wasn’t sure what I could say to you. I wanted to say the right thing,” Meghan said in the video, as she directly addressed the teenage students.
“I realised the only wrong thing to say is to say nothing because George Floyd’s life mattered and Breonna Taylor’s life mattered and Philando Castile’s life mattered and Tamir Rice’s life mattered… and so did so many other people whose names we know and whose names we do not know.”
Meghan also discussed her own experience of the Los Angeles riots in 1992, remembering the sight and smell of ash and smoke in the air as a young schoolgirl.
However the duchess – who stepped back from her role as a senior royal earlier this year – went on say that she has also seen displays of solidarity and unity across the country in recent days. “We’re seeing that right now, from the sheriff in Michigan or the police chief in Virginia,” Meghan added. “We’re seeing people stand in solidarity, we are seeing communities come together and to uplift. You are going to be part of this movement.”
She went on: “With as diverse, vibrant and opened minded as I know the teachings are at Immaculate Heart, I know you know that Black lives matters. You’re going to use your voice in a stronger way than you have ever been able to because most of you are 18 – or you’re turning 18 — so you’re going to vote.You’re going to have empathy for those who don’t see the world through the same lens that you do. You’re ready. We need you and you’re prepared.”
A spokesperson for the Sussexes told royal reporter Omid Scobie that the duchess “felt compelled to directly address what’s happening in this country right now around the killing of George Floyd – as well as what’s been happening over many, many years and many, many generations to countless other black Americans”.
Many people commented on the video and praised the duchess for speaking out. One person wrote: “Meghan’s speech was eloquent and heart felt. Felt her sadness for the past and her hope for the future. The determination to do right & be the change she wants to see in the world.” Another wrote: “THIS is what Royalty should be about. Love her.”
While another supported commented: “Our Duchess is brilliant, flawless, eloquent and much more. I knew she would deliver & she sure did.”
Meghan wrapped up the video – which appears to have been filmed in the LA mansion where she is currently living with husband Prince Harry and their one-year-old son Archie – by telling the graduating students that she was “so proud” to call them fellow alumni.
“You are equipped, you are ready, we need you and you are prepared. I am so proud to call each of you a fellow alumni, and I’m so eager to see what you’re going to do,” she said.
“Please know that I am cheering you on all along the way, I am exceptionally proud of you, and I’m wishing you a huge congratulations on today, the start of all the impact you’re going to make in the world as leaders that we all so deeply crave. Congratulations ladies, and thank you in advance.”