The Queen has broken her silence on Harry and Meghan’s bombshell interview to say that ‘while some recollections may vary’ the ‘whole family is saddened’ to hear of the couple’s ‘challenging few years’.
Her Majesty said in a statement an alleged racist comment made about what colour the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s baby Archie would be was ‘concerning’ and will be ‘addressed by the family privately’.
She added the couple and their son ‘will always be much loved family members’.
Her statement said: ‘The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan.
‘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.’
It is understood the Queen waited until Tuesday to comment on the tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey so Britons had the chance to watch it first – but they will not be commenting further.
It comes after senior royals broke cover today amid claims the palace is paralysed with fear that Harry and Meghan could out the figure accused of commenting on Archie’s skin colour if it denies the Royal Family is institutionally racist.
Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, were out and about visiting several vaccination centres as part of their official duties, while the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were seen driving around London on personal errands.
Buckingham Palace is under intense pressure to issue its response to a cascade of extraordinary and damaging claims made in the Oprah interview on Sunday night.
A senior palace source today claimed the delay is partly down to a lack of ‘trust’ between the Windsors and the Sussexes, with fears a denial without fully investigating the claims could lead to Harry and Meghan naming the person they accuse of making the comment.
The Duchess of Sussex’s allegation that a senior royal asked Harry how ‘dark’ Archie’s skin would be and the claim the one-year-old was denied the title of prince because he is mixed-race – rather than because of protocol – are the most damaging to the royals.
‘A denial could lead the Sussexes breaking their vow and naming the member of the royal family who discussed their son’s skin colour. There is a lack of trust,’ an insider told the Evening Standard.
The source added: ‘It could lead to the Sussexes naming names and it blowing up again.’
It came as Prince Charles smiled but stayed silent as he was quizzed about the interview on the first official engagement by a royal since it aired – as he told a nurse ‘I can imagine how exhausting it is’ as she described her work handing out vaccines.
The Prince of Wales – who is said to be ‘absolutely devastated’ at Harry’s claims he cut him off, put on a brave face as he spoke to medics, clerics and patients at Jesus House church near Brent Cross in London, following the deluge of personal attacks in front of a TV audience of 28million in the UK and US alone.
He was alone for that visit, although Camilla joined him later for trips to a vaccination centre in Elephant and Castle, south London, and the headquarters of NHS England.
One parishioner at Jesus House, who only gave her first name, Grace, highlighted that Charles had visited a ‘black church’, adding: ‘All that effort and someone turns around and says there’s racism, I don’t believe that’.
Harry – through back-stage comments to Oprah – has ruled out the Queen and Prince Philip as having made the comments about Archie but left other royals under suspicion.
Charles is said to be ‘deeply’ concerned over the racism claims, with a source saying: ‘It goes against everything the Prince of Wales believes in. He believes diversity is the strength of our society.’
This morning’s visit is understood to have been in the palace diary for some time, although the royals may have had a suspicion about what could be discussed in the Oprah interview in advance of it airing.
Charles seemed at ease as he chatted with people waiting for their vaccinations, including one woman who said she was from Nigeria.
The prince – who previously visited the church in 2007 – replied: ‘Oh fantastic, yes, I’ve been there. Lots of different ethnic groups. Do give them my kind regards next time you speak to them.’
As Charles left the church, a reporter asked, ‘Sir, what did you think of the interview?’, and after turning to see who had called out, he smiled and carried on walking.
In the Oprah interview, Charles was personally referenced by Prince Harry, who said he felt ‘really let down’ by his father after he allegedly refused to answer his calls during his time in Canada.
Harry also claimed his family had cut him off financially and suggested the Queen had been badly advised and had cancelled a meeting scheduled at Sandringham.
Discussing his father, Harry said: ‘I feel really let down because he’s been through something similar. He knows what pain feels like. I will always love him, but there’s a lot of hurt that’s happened. And I will continue to make it one of my priorities to try and heal that relationship.’
Royal insiders have rubbished the claims and said Charles feels ‘let down’ by his son’s comments.
‘The Prince of Wales went out of his way to make sure his son and daughter in law were financially supported,’ a senior source told the Standard.
Harry’s remarks raised eyebrows as the couple had themselves made clear their express wish to be ‘financially independent’ when announcing their decision to quit in January 2020.
Meanwhile, another source close to the heir to the throne told the Telegraph Charles will be left ‘absolutely devastated’ by what his youngest son had said about him.
As senior officials tried to work out how to respond:
- GMB’s Alex Beresford doubles down by tweeting dig at Piers Morgan after their blazing row over Meghan Markle saw host storm off set;
- Meghan says everyone should have ‘basic right to privacy’ in the latest unseen Oprah clip amid ‘hypocrisy’ claims;
- Hillary Clinton says the ‘cruelty’ the British press showed to Meghan was ‘outrageous’ and slams the Royals for ‘not supporting’ a ‘young woman who was just trying to live her life’;
- The Prime Minister’s official spokesman says Boris Johnson watched the interview but would not be commenting on it, despite White House giving its verdict;
- YouGov survey found Britons are standing by the Queen, with 36% having sympathy for Her Majesty compared to 22% for couple;
- Labour’s Diane Abbott slams Royal Family ‘racism’ and says Palace aides did not ‘adjust well’ to Harry marrying a ‘mixed race woman’;
- Figures show more than a million viewers turned off Harry and Meghan interview on ITV, with an average audience of 11.1m;
- Meghan’s father Thomas Markle takes swipe at ‘snotty’ Prince Harry for ‘dressing up like Hitler’;
- Nearly half of Britons believe Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah was ‘inappropriate’, snap poll fines;
- Meghan’s half-sister Samantha slams her Oprah interview, accusing Duchess of using ‘depression as an excuse to treat people like dishrags’.
Today, the Prince of Wales was praised for visiting the NHS pop-up vaccine clinic in spite of ongoing ‘family drama’. One woman, who only gave her name as Grace, claimed she briefly spoke to the heir to the throne.
‘He was quite interactive with the people in there in spite of all the drama going on,’ the 50-year-old said. ‘He took the time to come out here. I’m very happy he came out to encourage us to take the vaccine as well.’
A source close to the Sussexes suggested yesterday the couple were so concerned about Archie’s security because of his mixed race heritage that they wanted him to become a prince so he would be afforded suitable security.
But insiders say there was never any doubt that the Queen’s great-grandson would be protected and although the Prince of Wales has made no secret of his desire to have a slimmed-down monarch, Harry and his family were always part of his plan.
There was no comment, however, on Meghan’s astonishing accusation that Kate had reduced her to tears ahead of the 2018 royal wedding over a bridesmaid dress fitting with her daughter, Princess Charlotte.
She even claimed her future sister-in-law ‘owned’ her mistake, apologised and bought her flowers, contrary to claims that it was she who had made Kate cry with her unrealistic demands.
‘She did what I would do if I hurt someone. Just take accountability for it,’ Meghan said.
The Duchess of Cambridge was yesterday seen driving, stony faced, near Kensington Palace as her office released a video of conducting a call to mark International Women’s Day by speaking to the youngest woman to row solo across an ocean.
The picture of strain was a stark contrast to a new image of Harry and Meghan, pregnant and cuddling Archie, in the garden of their home in California released by her friend, Misan Hariman, to also mark IWD.
The black and white portrait emerged on social media just hours after their interview – in which the couple revealed the second baby they were expecting was a girl – had aired.
A message read: ‘Welcome to the girldad club H!’
The Prime Minister refused yesterday to comment on the details of the Sussexes’ allegations – even when asked whether he believed members of the Royal Family might be racist.
But the White House backed the couple’s decision to speak out, a spokesman saying it took ‘courage’ for Meghan to open up about struggles with mental health problems.
And Labour called on the Palace to launch an investigation into the couple’s claims of racism.
Party leader Sir Keir Starmer said it was ‘really sad to see the family in turmoil like this’ and that the allegations made by the duchess must be taken seriously.
He added: ‘The issues that Meghan has raised of racism and mental health are really serious issues.
‘It is a reminder that too many people experience racism in 21st century Britain.
‘We have to take that very, very seriously.
‘Nobody, but nobody, should be prejudiced (against) because of the colour of their skin or because of their mental health issues.’
Labour education spokesman Kate Green went further, saying the duchess’s claims should be ‘fully investigated’ by the Palace.
But Tory MP Michael Fabricant accused Labour of trying to ‘politicise’ the row.
He told the Mail: ‘Labour are wrong to politicise this. They know full well that there will be inquiries going on.
‘They really do trying to be desperately insert themselves into the story to get attention.’
Mr Fabricant said: ‘Every family is dysfunctional one way or another.
‘The holder of every high position will have personal little secrets they want hidden. We are all human.’