A German television station is under fire for its royal wedding coverage.
The public broadcast network ZDF used some loaded language to describe Meghan Markle, duchess of Sussex. In one instance, a host asked, “Are those dreadlocks on Meghan’s mother?” Another replied: “It’s curly hair that’s been somewhat de-curled, same as Meghan probably does all the time.”
At another point, a host commented: “Meghan always wanted a Barbie doll family. But there were only white and black Barbie families.”
Hosts repeatedly referred to Markle and her black guests as “exotic” and said the gospel choir that performed “Stand by Me” sang “beautifully black.”
They also compared Markle to Amal Clooney and Victoria Beckham because all three had successful careers before they married. And at one point, they mocked Beckham, saying she looked like a member of the Addams Family.
Viewers reacted on social media with outrage, accusing the station of perpetuating racist stereotypes. On Twitter, comedian Aurel Mertz wrote: “Expert on @ZDF: ‘Meghan radiates Afro-American spirit’ — Officially the whitest sentence ever said #RoyalWedding.”
Others objected to the station’s constant references to Markle's race. “The station never tires of emphasizing that Meghan Markle … is black,” Lennart Pfahler and Josh Groeneveld wrote in the HuffPost. “Black, black, black. Can we please talk about hats again?”
In a column, Nicola Erdmann accused ZDF of being disrespectful. “Airtime was filled with questionable remarks about Meghan’s origins, macho-language and cliches,” she wrote. “There was no respect for spectators and people who were involved.”
Germany has long struggled with issues of xenophobia. In the past year, there have been several incidents of racially motivated violence. Alternative for Germany, the country's far-right party, has more than 3 million followers online. According to DW, the party disseminated racist slogans online to its followers.
ZDF acknowledged receiving complaints via phone and email. In a statement, the outlet promised to “take the criticism of our viewers seriously” but stopped short of apologizing.