Residents of one London neighborhood have expressed a mix of skepticism and delight at news of an upcoming visit from Prince Harry and his fiancee, Meghan Markle.
As NBC News reports, Harry and Markle will be paying a visit to a radio station in Brixton, which has been referred to as “London’s Harlem.” The couple will stop by Reprezent, an underground-music radio station that was originally founded as a “monthlong broadcast focusing on raising awareness around gun and knife crime.” The station has since become a full FM station that focuses on promoting new artists.
According to NBC News, Kensington Palace said in a statement that the couple would learn more about Reprezent’s “model of using music, radio and media for social impact” during their upcoming trip.
Some Brixton locals were warm to the idea of the royal couple passing through. Here’s a sampling of comments by people who were eager to welcome Harry and Meghan to the neighborhood, according to NBC:
“I absolutely love the royals, it’s ridiculous,” said Henrie Kwushue, 22, who presents a morning rap show at the station. “The fact they’re coming here, they’re interested in diversity, they’re interested in what we have to say.”
C.D. Leroy, who was selling Jamaican clothing at a market stall, said, “It’s not OK, it’s wonderful” for Harry and Markle to visit.
“I like them all but Harry is my favorite,” Leroy added. “Harry is colorblind and he loves mankind.”
“She’s the first diverse royal, reflecting for the first time the demographics of England,” said Dennise Hilliman, while getting her hair done in a local salon. “All the royals are very white, but when you look at England, and especially, London, you have so many ethnicities.”
But others were more skeptical of the couple’s visit and its message.
“It’s a stunt for the royal family,” said Mike Eweje, who works at Budget Carpets, a store in one of Brixton’s famous railway arches.
“Did Will come here with his missus?” he asked, referring to Harry’s older brother, Prince William, and his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge. “I don’t think so. It’s like, ‘Look at us, we’ve got a black person with us now.’”
Mo Jason, 18, who was skateboarding outside the Brixton library, said it did seem as if the royals had an agenda.
“They’re trying to be cultural by coming down here,” he said.
“She’s hardly Serena Williams,” said Anita Thorpe, who owns a lifestyle store called Diverse. “She’s not going to make any dents or any ripples. It’s not going to make a massive difference.”
“They think it’s a good fit coming to Brixton,” she said. “It’s a bit of a cliché, but I guess also something quite positive.”
She’s. Hardly. Serena. Williams. Pearls, clutched.
The skepticism is well-earned. Like Harlem and other predominantly black and immigrant neighborhoods in the U.S., Brixton has been hit with “large-scale gentrification and soaring rent prices,” according to NBC. Many longtime Brixton residents welcome some of the changes—like a decline in crime rates—while feeling shut out from the new resources and services meant to attract outsiders to the neighborhood.
The visit will mark Harry and Meghan’s second official outing together.