An African in Buckingham Palace? With so much focus on immigration in Europe, it was interesting to see two very different approaches to foreigners in Britain recently.

Author:Goodwin, Clayton
Position:LETTER FROM LONDON - Column
 
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The UK knows how to treat certain immigrants well. There was a wholesome welcome from the press and public; photographs aplenty and kind words everywhere; and a big day ahead--the biggest of the year for the country.

It certainly helped that this particular immigrant was about to marry Prince Harry, the son of the heir to the English throne, Prince Charles. Meghan Markle (pictured, right), has been given the big 'write-up'--deservedly so, because she appears to be a lovely lady.

Her reception by the English establishment is much warmer than that accorded to the last American divorcee who married into the highest echelons of society. Wallis Simpson's involvement lost her husband, King Edward VIII, his throne and her the chance to add HRH (Her Royal Highness) to the title of Duchess of Windsor. Times have changed, and in this respect, for the better.

Commentators have waxed enthusiastic that race relations here will never be the same now that somebody with African blood in her veins can sit at the highest table in the land. It is now impossible, by this reasoning, for those with even a modicum of a similar background to be treated with any less respect.

I remain to be convinced. It isn't only that I am old enough to remember how the Princess Diana fairy-tale worked out--or that of Princess Margaret before that. The system has previous form in laying out the tinsel and the baubles until it has become tawdry.

Nevertheless, Prince Harry's reported wish for Barack and Michelle Obama to be guests at the wedding, whatever the diplomatic protocol, and the couple's early official visit to an inner-city radio station in Brixton, speak well of his character. It would be churlish not to wish the couple all the best for their impending marriage.

It would be thoughtless, too, not to wish a similar acceptance to all immigrants. If only that were so ...

About the time that the royal engagement was announced, there was a different sort of press report. Paulette Wilson, it was said, had to call in at the Home Office following a letter she had received from them. In that, Ms Wilson was told that as an illegal immigrant she was going to be removed from this country and sent back to Jamaica, the country she had left half-a-century ago at the age of 10 and has not visited since.

The other side of the coin Paulette was taken into Yarl's Wood detention centre for a week, before being sent to the immigrant removal centre at Heathrow. Only the last-minute...

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