"It took me many, many years to realize it, especially then living a day or a week in my wife's shoes," Prince Harry said of understanding unconscious racial bias

Prince Harry says he only became aware of unconscious racial bias after "living a day" in the shoes of his wife, Meghan Markle.

“Unconscious bias, from my understanding, having the upbringing and the education that I had, I had no idea what it was. I had no idea it existed,” Harry said in an interview with Black Lives Matter activist Patrick Hutchinson for GQ magazine on Monday. “And then, sad as it is to say, it took me many, many years to realize it, especially then living a day or a week in my wife's shoes."

The Duke of Sussex spoke with Hutchinson over video chat from his new home in Montecito, California, as part of GQ’s Heroes conference. Hutchinson came to prominence for bravely going into the crowd at a Black Lives Matter protest in London in June and carrying a counter-protester to safety.

Hutchinson went to the protest with some friends to act as a kind of peacekeeper.

“To me, you seem a form of guardian angel, that you were there to protect everybody from that red mist that comes in when you're acting as a group against another group," Harry told him.

Prince Harry and Patrick Hutchinson discuss how to further anti-racism
Patrick Hutchinson and Prince Harry
| Credit: British GQ

Hutchinson, who is part of a new initiative to champion equality Utcai, for United To Change and Inspire, explained, “So it wasn't just us down there protecting the young black protesters. It was us protecting everybody and, as it turned out, somebody on the other side. Because at the end of the day, at that moment in time you forget [that people are] anything else and you just want to do what's right for that particular moment.”

Prince Harry and Patrick Hutchinson discuss how to further anti-racism
Credit: British GQ

“When adrenaline kicks in, there's no fear. The fact that we have to be in a situation where we have to protest about something so obvious in life? Yeah, it's frustrating. It just makes you wonder why people find it so hard to understand what we're all striving for: the equality side of things. And why they find it hard to understand. I just struggle with that," Hutchinson added.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle shot for the Time 100 event
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
| Credit: Matt Sayles

For Harry, much of the blame for unconscious bias continuing lies falls to “people within positions of power.”

“Whether it's politics or whether it's the media, where if you're not aware of your own bias and you're not aware of the culture within your system, then how are we ever going to progress? How are we ever going to get to that point where there is more fairness?” the Duke of Sussex said. “Because it's not a zero-sum game, right? Everyone benefits if the black community gets treated the way they should be treated.”

Prince Harry appears on the front cover of British GQ
Credit: Matt Sayles and Gavin Bond

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In the wide-ranging chat, the fitness trainer and father of four and the prince talked about mental health and the isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic on both sides of the Atlantic. And they chatted about their families too, with Harry, 36, saying that his son Archie “is keeping us very busy, but he's making us laugh every day, which is great.”

"Being a dad myself, the whole point in life, I guess, for me, is to try to leave the world in a better place than when you found it," Harry said. "It's going to take every single one of us to really change things and anyone that's pushing against it really needs to take a long, hard look at themselves in the mirror."

Hutchinson said his mother, who like him was a great admirer of Harry’s late mom Princess Diana, is “going to be bawling her eyes out” when she sees him talking with the prince – who sent virtual hugs to her.