A pedestrian passes newspapers on display with front pages featuring images of members of the royal family, outside a shop in London, Wednesday, March 10, 2021. In countries with historic ties to Britain, allegations by Prince Harry and Meghan about racism within the royal family have raised questions about whether those nations want to be closely connected to Britain anymore after the couple’s interview with Oprah Winfrey. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

A pedestrian passes newspapers on display with front pages featuring images of members of the royal family, outside a shop in London, Wednesday, March 10, 2021. In countries with historic ties to Britain, allegations by Prince Harry and Meghan about racism within the royal family have raised questions about whether those nations want to be closely connected to Britain anymore after the couple’s interview with Oprah Winfrey. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Royal response fails to end anger over Meghan racism claims

The interview, seen by some 50 million people worldwide, has divided opinions around the world

Buckingham Palace’s statement on Prince Harry and Meghan’s allegations or racism and mistreatment has failed to quiet the controversy, with some observers criticizing the royal family for failing to forcefully condemn racism and suggesting that the couple’s version of events may not be accurate.

“Too little, too late” was the verdict of royal commentator Peter Hunt, who also criticized the palace’s 61-word statement for saying the issue would be dealt with privately as a family matter.

“This delayed, tame statement went for predictability when unpredictability — stepping out of the Windsor comfort zone — was what was needed,” Hunt wrote on the website of the influential British magazine The Spectator.

The statement, issued on behalf of the queen, was released 36 hours after Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah Winfrey was broadcast in the United States.

“The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan,” the palace said. “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.’’

READ MORE: Buckingham Palace issues statement on Harry, Meghan racism allegations

The comments were the palace’s first word since the interview rocked the royal family — and touched off conversations around the world about racism, mental health and even the relationship between Britain and its former colonies.

In the interview, Meghan, who is biracial, described feeling so isolated and miserable inside the royal family that she had suicidal thoughts, yet when she asked for mental health assistance from the palace’s human resources staff, she was told they couldn’t help because she wasn’t a paid employee. She also said Harry told her there were “concerns and conversations” about the colour of her baby’s skin when she was pregnant with her son, Archie.

The interview, seen by some 50 million people worldwide, has divided opinions around the world.

Many people have backed Meghan, saying the allegations demonstrate the need for change inside an institution that hasn’t kept pace with the #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements. Others stand behind the royal family, criticizing the couple for making their damning allegations at a time when Harry’s 99-year-old grandfather, Prince Philip, remains hospitalized in London after a heart procedure.

Anna Whitelock, director of the Centre for the Study of Modern Monarchy at Royal Holloway, University of London, said the palace’s brief message had “hardened the lines” between people who believe the monarchy is an outdated bastion of inherited white privilege and those who see it as cherished national institution.

Fallout from the interview is likely to only fuel the debate over the future of the monarchy and its role both in Britain and the other countries around the world for which the queen serves as head of state, Whitelock said. The queen remains the head of state for 15 countries, most of which were once part of the British Empire, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand and island nations in the Caribbean.

“That’s a debate that’s been held in check, in large part, given the length of the queen’s reign and in respect to her and the role that she’s played,” Whitelock said. “But it’s going to happen, and it’s just a question of when, not if.”

READ MORE: Race, title and anguish: Meghan and Harry explain royal rift

After Harry and Meghan married in May 2018 at Windsor Castle, the royal family seemed to welcome Meghan, a glamorous former TV star, and the couple were seen as providing a fresh young face for the monarchy of an increasingly multicultural nation.

It didn’t take long for the fairytale to unravel. The couple stepped away from royal duties last year and eventually settled in California, saying they wanted to escape racist coverage and unwanted intrusions on their privacy by the British media.

The interview especially struck a chord with many Black people in Britain, some of whom were not satisfied with the palace’s remarks. Bell Ribeiro-Addy, a Black member of Parliament from the opposition Labour Party, said Buckingham Palace should have directly condemned racism.

“The monarchy is a public institution that receives public money and any criticism of the institution should really be met with a forceful response from the institution about what they are going to do,’’ Ribeiro-Addy told the BBC. “We expect (that) of any institution. Why not the monarchy, why not the palace?”

Danica Kirka, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Royal family

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Emergency crews on scene after a small plane crashed in a grassy area on the northeast side of Boundary Bay Airport Saturday morning (April 10). A freelancer said the plane caught fire and one person was transported to hospital by BC Emergency Health Services. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Small plane crashes at Delta’s Boundary Bay Airport

Plane appears to have suffered ‘significant’ damage, says freelancer

President of the West Coast Fine Arts Show, Brian Croft, said pandemic restrictions necessitated a shift to an entirely online event this year, running until April 30. (File photo)
The West Fine Art Show shifts to an online-only event amid tighter health orders

Website version retains the flavour of the annual live exhibition

A vaccine-filled needle awaits injection, during a COVID-19 vaccination clinic held Jan. 15, 2021 at Amica White Rock. Community Living B.C.-funded workers learned April 8 that they, too, can now be vaccinated. (Tracy Holmes file photo)
Support workers for those with disabilities given vaccine priority

News shared with Community Living B.C.-funded staff on April 8

British Columbia Attorney General David Eby. (Photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Attorney General covers housing, homelessness and justice reform in Surrey Zoom

‘I think it would be really great to hold some sessions in Surrey,’ Eby says of legislative assembly

Scott Wheatley stands with the main Kenyan and Ugandan umpiring crew that he trained at the Nakirebe Complex outside of Kampala in 2020. Wheatley, a member-at-large with Softball B.C. is supporting a recent open letter from the sporting body that calls on the government to reinstate gameplay for kids in organized sports. (Photo: Submitted)
Softball B.C. urges provincial health officer to lift ban on gameplay for kids in organized sports

Sporting body sent open letter to both Bonnie Henry and Adrian Dix

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod, seen here on April 9, 2021 with four-year-old sister Elena and mom Vanessa, was born with limb differences. The family, including husband/dad Sean McLeod, is looking for a family puppy that also has a limb difference. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. family looking for puppy with limb difference, just like 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy McLeod born as bilateral amputee, now her family wants to find ‘companion’ puppy for her

A vehicle that was driven through the wall of a parkade at Uptown Shopping Centre and into the nearby Walmart on April 9 was removed through another hole in the wall later that night. (Photo via Saanich Police Department and Ayush Kakkar)
Vehicle launched into B.C. Walmart removed following rescue of trapped workers

Crews cut new hole in parkade wall to remove vehicle safely

Four members with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans were out at Cultus Lake on March 28 and 29 hauling trash out of the waters. (Henry Wang)
PHOTOS: Out-of-town divers remove 100s of pounds of trash from Cultus Lake

Members of Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans hauled out 470 pounds of trash over two days

As of Saturday, April 10, people born in 1961 are the latest to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press files)
B.C. residents age 60+ can now register to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine registration is now open to people born in 1961 or earlier

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests available for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

Ruming Jiang and his dog Chiu Chiu are doing fine following a brush with hypothermia that saw several people work together to get them out of the Fraser River near Langley’s Derby Reach Park on March 25, 2021 (Special to the Advance Times)
Man finds men who rescued him from drowning in B.C.’s Fraser River

A grateful Ruming Jiang says he will thank them again, this time in person when the pandemic ends

The 10-part Netflix series Maid, which is being exclusively shot in Greater Victoria, was filming near Prospect Lake in Saanich last month. (Photo courtesy Fred Haynes)
Province announces $150,000 towards film studio, fulfilling B.C. NDP promise

Investment to fund movie studio feasibility study at Camosun College

Tyson Ginter, 7, is proud of his latest Hot Wheels he recently received by Quesnel RCMP Const. Matt Joyce. (Photo submitted)
B.C. Mountie handing out toy cars to light up children’s faces

‘A lot of times it will be the only interaction they have with the police,’ says Const. Matt Joyce

Most Read