Asked by a reporter during a visit to a school in east London if the royals were a “racist family,” the Duke of Cambridge said, “We’re very much not a racist family.”
Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, made a series of damning accusations against the royal family in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, which aired in the UK on Monday night.
In response to a question on whether he had spoken to his brother since the interview with Oprah Winfrey, Prince William said, “I haven’t spoken to him yet but I will do.”
Harry and Meghan’s interview has sent Buckingham Palace into a tailspin and triggered a nationwide debate on the royals, race and the role of the media in perpetuating xenophobia.
In the interview, Meghan said that the skin tone of the couple’s child, Archie, was discussed as a potential issue before he was born. The couple would not reveal who had made the remarks, but said it wasn’t Queen Elizabeth II or her husband, Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.
The palace broke its silence on Tuesday evening, saying in a statement on behalf of the Queen that the allegations of racism were concerning and were being “taken very seriously.”
“The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan,” the statement read.
“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.”
CNN correspondent Max Foster said Prince William’s remarks were unusual and a sign of how rigid systems surrounding the monarchy were breaking down following the interview.
Foster noted that the Duke of Cambridge “decided to speak back” to the reporter, despite the Queen’s stated preference to handle the matter privately.
“This was a reporter at a major network, breaking a protocol which is not to throw questions out at senior royals in this way. So … that’s something that’s broken down,” he said Thursday.
“We’ve got to this point in the story where a senior royal is asked if his family is racist, which is just quite extraordinary.”
Couple cite lack of support
In the interview, Meghan described having regular suicidal thoughts during her pregnancy and brief time as a working royal, and the couple said the palace had offered Meghan and Archie inadequate security and protection.
The couple cited a lack of support over invasive press coverage and the royal institution’s decision not to give their son Archie a title – and with it his eligibility for protection – as the basis for their decision to relocate from the UK.
The interview has also had consequences for the British press, whose tabloids are infamous for invading the privacy of royals and celebrities, and are regularly embroiled in legal battles for defamation.
High-profile TV personality Piers Morgan stepped down from his role as presenter of ITV’s “Good Morning Britain,” a day after questioning whether the Duchess was being truthful about having suicidal thoughts. Morgan stormed of the set live on TV as his own co-host, Alex Beresford, admonished him in a scathing rebuke of his remarks.
The Duchess of Sussex had complained about Morgan’s remarks to the television station.
The executive director of the UK’s Society of Editors, Ian Murray, resigned Wednesday after appearing in an interview in which he refused to acknowledge racist media coverage in the country.
Prince Charles – who is William and Harry’s father, and heir to the throne – appeared in public earlier on Tuesday for the first time and did not respond to a question on the furor surrounding his family.
Harry had told Winfrey that his father had briefly stopped taking his calls after the couple announced they were stepping back from the royal family last January. He added that they were now speaking again.
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