Buckingham Palace has broken its silence about allegations of racism raised by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and promised to address the issue privately within the Royal Family.
“The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan,” said a statement released by the palace late Tuesday on behalf of the Queen. “The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning. While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately. Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved family members.”
The brief statement came nearly two days after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex made a series of damning allegations about the Royal Family during a television interview in California with Oprah Winfrey. The interview was broadcast in the United States and Canada on Sunday, and in Britain on Monday.
Ms. Markle talked to Ms. Winfrey about having suicidal thoughts and Harry said an unnamed relative expressed concern about how dark their baby’s skin would be. Both said they’d received minimal support from the palace and Harry spoke about the fractured relationship with his father, Prince Charles, who stopped accepting his phone calls.
“I was trapped but I didn’t know I was trapped,” Harry said. “Like the rest of my family are. My father and my brother, they are trapped.”
It’s unlikely the Queen’s comments will quell the uproar caused by the two-hour interview. The Duke and Duchess have long struggled with life inside the Royal Family and the unrelenting coverage by the British press, but the revelations were far more serious than many expected. They’ve prompted calls for an investigation into the allegations of racism and raised questions about the palace’s commitment to addressing mental health issues.
“There has got to be a very serious reflection,” Labour MP Diane Abbott told the BBC on Tuesday. “They need to look at some of the people that work at Buckingham Palace. They also need to reflect on, have they learned anything over the last 25 years since what happened to Princess Diana? It does not look as if they have.”
Ms. Abbott, Britain’s first Black female Member of Parliament, was among 72 MPs who signed a letter in 2019 condemning the media’s treatment of Ms. Markle, saying it featured “outdated, colonial undertones.” During the interview with Ms. Winfrey, Harry referenced the letter and added: “Yet no one from my family ever said anything over those three years. That hurts.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has declined to comment on the allegations but some cabinet ministers have spoken out. Zac Goldsmith, Minister of State for Pacific and the Environment, slammed Harry for disparaging his father. “Harry is blowing up his family,” Lord Goldsmith said on Twitter. “What Meghan wants, Meghan gets.”
Another fierce critic of the couple, popular television host Piers Morgan, is out of a job after a series of disparaging comments about Ms. Markle on Tuesday. Mr. Morgan, a former tabloid newspaper editor who also worked at CNN, co-hosted ITV’s Good Morning Britain program. During Monday’s show, Mr. Morgan challenged Ms. Markle’s comment that she received no support from the palace when she had suicidal thoughts. “I’m sorry, I don’t believe a word she said,” Mr. Morgan said during the show. “I wouldn’t believe it if she read me a weather report.” On Tuesday, Mr. Morgan got into an on-air argument with another host about Ms. Markle and walked off the set.
His comment caused an outcry and Britain’s television regulator launched an investigation. In a statement late Tuesday, ITV said that Mr. Morgan “decided now is the time to leave Good Morning Britain.”
As the controversy raged, the fathers of Harry and Ms. Markle both made public appearances on Tuesday.
Prince Charles visited a vaccination centre in London and met briefly with doctors, nurses and volunteers. When asked about the interview, he smiled and declined to comment.
Thomas Markle appeared on Good Morning Britain and refuted some of Ms. Markle’s comments about his behaviour before the couple’s wedding in May, 2018. During the Oprah interview Ms. Markle said she felt betrayed by her father for secretly co-operating with tabloid photographers. “I genuinely can’t imagine doing anything to intentionally cause pain to my child,” she said.
Mr. Markle said he’d apologized for his behaviour “at least 100 times or so” and added: “The bottom line is I’ve never heard back from Meghan or Harry in any way shape or form.” He also said the couple “went way over the top” in the interview and that he did not believe Britain was any more racist than California.
Reaction to the interview has differed widely between the United States and Britain. The Duke and Duchess have been largely praised in the U.S. for speaking out about their struggles and White House officials said President Joe Biden was especially impressed that Ms. Markle addressed her mental health issues.
There has been far less support in Britain. A YouGov poll of 2,111 people released on Tuesday found that 56 per cent of those surveyed had little or no sympathy for the couple and 47 per cent thought the interview was inappropriate. However, the same poll also found that 45 per cent had little or no sympathy for senior members of the Royal Family.
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