Queen Elizabeth is making history.
Just before Prince Philip retires from his royal engagements this fall, the queen has hired a new equerry: Ghanaian-born Household Cavalry officer Major Nana Kofi Twumasi-Ankrah, who is believed to be the first black equerry in the palace’s history. The equerry, as Elle reports, is a position of esteem and importance in the royal household.
Twumasi-Ankrah is a 48-year-old Afghanistan veteran, and his position will require that he closely assist the queen at royal engagements and at home. The position of equerry was traditionally meant for looking after the cavalry’s horses, but in modern times, it’s more of an assistant/security guard for the queen, required to be publicly visible and at the queen’s side at nearly all times.
“I would have never imagined that one day I’d command the regiment which I’d fallen in love with,” Twumasi-Ankrah told the Sunday Times. “From what I’ve seen in the UK, our cultures really do mix and if I’m not a good example of that I really don’t know what is.”
Twumasi-Ankrah already has a long history with the royal family. He studied at the Royal Military Academy before acting as an escort commander at Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding in 2011. He has also commended the Blues and Royals at the queen’s annual birthday parade. The Sunday Times reports that Twumasi-Ankrah was personally picked by the queen from a pool of candidates.
The move is a welcome change for the palace, which has been accused of racial discrimination in the past. For example, one incident in 2001 reportedly involved Elizabeth Burgess, a former secretary to Prince Charles. She told officials that she had been subject to harassment based on her race while she was employed by the palace. “There were always black jokes and names going round because it is the royal family and it is still very protected,” she said.
This news is something that will hopefully keep those more unkind incidents in the past. In fact, this occasion is all the more reason to see Twumasi-Ankrah’s hiring as what it is: an important step forward for the royal family.