A day after it hit televisions in the UK, the royal family issued a statement about Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. As the 17 million people who watched the deeply personal and shocking interview on Sunday night can attest, there were some serious accusations and allegations lobbed at the monarchy by the former senior working royals.
Meghan and Harry have largely remained silent on their time as senior members of the royal family since announcing their plans to step back in January 2020. They have stayed quiet even in the face of overwhelming criticism in the British tabloids throughout their transition, and even before. But in their first sit-down interview since their engagement in 2017, the couple spoke at length with Winfrey about their lives as royals, their decision to step back, and perhaps most shockingly, the alleged racism that caused them, in part, to walk away. “It was a large part of it,” Harry told Winfrey after she asked if he left “because of racism.”
Earlier in the interview, the couple implied that there was also racism at play in the royal establishment. Meghan told Winfrey that there had been “concerns and conversations” within the institution with Harry about their son Archie prior to his birth, specifically about “how dark his skin might be.”
“There are several conversations,” Meghan told Winfrey, “potentially and what that would mean or look like.” Later in the interview, Harry said he was “never going to share” who made those comments to him, but Winfrey reported the following day that it was not Queen Elizabeth II or Prince Philip.
Two days after those serious allegations came to light, Buckingham Palace issued a brief statement on behalf of the queen, expressing that the royal family was “saddened.”
“The whole family is saddened to hear the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan,” the statement read. “The issues raised, particularly 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 members of the family.”
Folks on Twitter were quick to call out this brief statement as inadequate. Peter Hunt, director of communications and engagement for the NHS, tweeted that their response “is too little, too late.” Hunt added in another tweet, “A delayed statement designed to be last word. A tame statement, containing no outright condemnation of racism. A predictable statement that means the advantage remains with Harry and Meghan.”
Author and journalist Sophia A. Nelson said the royal family “needs major DEI training & coaching” and called the statement “really bad.”
Omid Scobie, a royal reporter who wrote a book about Meghan and Harry’s royal exit, tweeted that Buckingham Palace’s statement was “lacking the vim and vigour showcased last week when the Palace announced to every media organisation in the world that they would be conducting an HR investigation into bullying claims.”
Harry and Meghan’s serious claims of racism, being silenced, and a lack of support for the duchess when she reached out for help with her mental health while pregnant with their son Archie will apparently be dealt with “by the family in private.” And yet last week, mere days before their interview aired, the palace announced it would launch an actual investigation, not a private family chat, into a 2018 claim of bullying levied against Meghan by a former staffer, which was published in The Sunday Times.