All eyes were on Meghan Markle (and her already sold-out black-and-white dress) as she made her way to the Queen’s annual Christmas lunch on Wednesday, but now one of her new royal neighbors is under fire for a controversial accessory she wore to the festive event.
Princess Michael of Kent, the wife of Prince Michael of Kent, the Queen’s first cousin, was pictured arriving at Buckingham Palace wearing a brooch on her left shoulder which appeared to be “blackamoor” jewelry, depicting the bust of a black person with a gold crown and colorful crystals.
The brooch has drawn further criticism due to Meghan’s biracial background (her mother is Black and her father is white) — and the fact that Princess Michael chose to wear it on the day Meghan was being introduced to many extended royal family members for the first time.
“Blackamoor” is a genre of art or jewelry originating in 16th century Venice that has been criticized for promoting imagery that is considered racist. Many blackamoor figures portray exoticized images of servants and slaves of African descent.
A representative for Princess Michael declined PEOPLE’s request for comment.
“It’s disheartening,” Meghan told the BBC when asked about racist responses to the couple’s relationship. “You know it’s a shame that that is the climate in this world to focus that much on that or that that would be discriminatory in that sense, but I think…at the end of the day I’m really just proud of who I am and where I come from, and we have never put any focus on that. We’ve just focused on who we are as a couple.”
Princess Michael has been accused of racism before. While at a New York restaurant in 2004, she was said to have told a group of African American diners to “go back to the colonies.” Following the incident, she attempted to repair her reputation in an interview that only furthered the controversy.
“I even pretended years ago to be an African, a half-caste African, but because of my light eyes I did not get away with it, but I dyed my hair black,” she told ITV.
“I traveled on African buses. I wanted to be a writer. I wanted experiences from Cape Town to right up in northern Mozambique,” she added. “I had this adventure with these absolutely adorable, special people and to call me racist: it’s a knife through the heart because I really love these people.”
Last year, Harry released a rare statement coming to Meghan’s defense and slamming what he called the racist and sexist abuse she has endured since their relationship was revealed. He specifically called out the “racial undertones of comment pieces” and the “outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments.”