The wife of the Queen’s cousin was joining other members of the Royal Family and meeting Prince Harry’s fiancee Meghan Markle for the first time, at the annual gathering on Wednesday when she was spotted wearing the accessory.
Blackamoor sculptures and jewellery usually depict an African or non-European male, as a servant. They have a complex history as they were once considered to be a tribute to the people they represented.
The Princess’ brooch appears to be the bust of an African person, wearing a crown and jewels. It has sparked particular outrage because of Ms Markle’s mixed heritage.
A spokesman for the Princess said: “The brooch was a gift and has been worn many times before. Princess Michael is very sorry and distressed that it has caused offence.”
According to the Telegraph, a source added there was “no malice” intended in wearing the piece.
Ms Markle has spoken openly on many occasions about being the daughter of a white father and a black mother and her engagement to Prince Harry has been seen as a huge marker for progress in the Royal Family.
The connection did not go unnoticed on social media
One Twitter user commented that the piece belonged in a museum, rather than on the Princess’ lapel, while another called her an “embarrassment” to the Royal Family. Some defended her saying the pieces are not racist.
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Ms Markle was invited to attend the Queen’s annual lunch on 20 December at Buckingham Palace after the couple announced their engagement at the end of November.
Although they are not yet married, she will also be spending Christmas itself with the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, an invitation the now Duchess of Cambridge did not receive until she and Prince William tied the knot.