A cartoon on the front cover of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo has sparked online outrage, which shows Queen Elizabeth kneeling on the neck of Meghan Markle, an apparent recreation of George Floyd's death. The cartoon was published days after the Duchess of Sussex, and her husband, Prince Harry, alleged racism within the royal family during a tell-all interview with iconic talk show host Oprah Winfrey.
In the cartoon titled 'Why Meghan left Buckingham Palace', the Duchess of Sussex, with the Queen kneeling on her neck, is depicted saying, "Because I couldn't breathe any more". Last year, Floyd, a Black man, had uttered "I can't breathe" more than 20 times and was told by a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, who was kneeling on his neck, to stop "yelling", according to the transcript of the minutes leading to his death.
Floyd's final words heard in a video captured by a bystander became a rallying cry at Black Lives Matter protests and triggered discussions around systemic racism across the globe. Markle's interview has also prompted discussions on institutional racism and some even questioned the relevance of monarchy in Britain.
But critics have found Charlie Hebdo's cartoon depiction problematic and some Twitter users said that it was "plain racist". Dr Halima Begum, the chief executive of the Runnymede Trust, the UK's race equality thinktank, said that the cartoon was "wrong on every level". Sharing the cartoon on Twitter, Begum said it not only "demeans the issues" but causes offence across the board.
"#CharlieHebdo, this is wrong on every level. The Queen as #GeorgeFloyd's murderer crushing Meghan's neck? #Meghan saying she's unable to breathe? This doesnt push boundaries, make anyone laugh or challenge #racism. It demeans the issues & causes offence, across the board," she tweeted.
"Satire is when you're mocking the oppressors btw, not the oppressed and already marginalised. Charlie Hebdo has always been disgusting," tweeted another user.
Charlie Hebdo is known for its cartoons which many deem provocative and offensive. Last year, the magazine republished the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad on the eve of the trial of alleged accomplices in the 2015 terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo's Paris headquarters that claimed 11 lives. Four days after the attack, a friend of those terrorists took hostages and killed four people at a kosher supermarket in Paris.