Buckingham Palace releases statement over Harry and Meghan interview and says issues of race 'concerning'

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·5-min read

Watch: Prince Charles chuckles when asked if he saw Harry and Meghan interview

The Queen has said the whole Royal Family is "saddened" by "how challenging" life as senior royals was for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle after their explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey.

In Harry and Meghan's interview with Winfrey they laid bare the struggles they felt they had been up against, and said they had not received the support they needed.

The interview has plunged the palace into a significant crisis.

A statement, issued by the palace on behalf of the Queen, 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."

PA reported the Royal Family is "said to consider this a family matter, and believe they should be given the opportunity to raise the issues privately".

The Telegraph reported the Queen, Charles and William were in regular phone contact on Monday and Tuesday discussing the fallout, but that her delay in issuing a statement was because she wanted to sleep on it. 

Meghan set out her side of the story of her time in senior royal life recounting feeling suicidal while she was five months pregnant with Archie.

But she said she did not get any help when she approached "the institution", saying that she was told it would not be appropriate for her to seek treatment.

She also claimed a Royal Family member had had a conversation with Prince Harry about what colour their children's skin might be - suggesting that "concerns" were raised about "what that might look like".

Winfrey said the couple wanted it to be clear it was not the Queen or Prince Philip who made the comment, but there has been no further comment about it from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

Watch: Queen and Prince Philip not behind comments about Archie's skin

Read more: Harry and Meghan interview: Was Archie denied a royal title when he was born?

Harry spoke about feeling let down by his father, Prince Charles, and also said they had been "cut off" financially from them, leading to worries about their security.

Harry and Meghan set out plans to be financially independent when they stepped back from their senior royal roles, but were covered by security while they were in the UK and Canada.

Meghan said their friend Tyler Perry had helped with security when they moved to the US, and they have since been covering their own costs, something they made clear in Spring 2020 after the move.

The couple said they would still be in their roles as senior royals had it been the case that they could have support that they needed from the institution.

Previously, statements from the Queen have given a personal comment about her love and concern for the couple, saying they remain "much loved" members of the family.

And the couple were clear to praise the Queen personally in the interview, with Meghan saying she called the Queen after finding out that the Duke of Edinburgh was in hospital.

Harry also said he had spoken to the Queen more in the last year than in several years previously.

Prince Charles was pictured out on an engagement earlier on Tuesday, the first time since the interview was aired in the UK but did not answer any questions from reporters outside a vaccine centre in London.

He chuckled when he was asked about the interview, and carried on walking.

WIDNES, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 14: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Queen Elizabeth II attend a ceremony to open the new Mersey Gateway Bridge on June 14, 2018 in Widnes, England. Meghan Markle married Prince Harry last month to become The Duchess of Sussex and this is her first engagement with the Queen. During the visit the pair will open a road bridge in Widnes and visit The Storyhouse and Town Hall in Chester. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
Meghan praised the Queen, pictured here together in June 2018 in Chester, but said she was not supported by the institution. (Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

Read more: Piers Morgan steps down from 'Good Morning Britain' in the wake of Meghan Markle row

Labour MP Dawn Butler said the statement from the palace was a "good start".

She tweeted: “I’m pleased the family will address this privately.

“However I would still like to know from the royal family who made whom cry? This is a simple question to answer.”

Former BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt tweeted: "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."

Royal commentator Victoria Howard said: "This is simply not good enough."

Royal author Hugo Vickers told Sky News: "I can think of several contradictions myself, but they are going to deal with them privately. Let's hope things calm down."

He said he wasn't sure if they would comment and added: "Clearly they have been thinking about things for some time. She's always been good at looking after her descendants and keeping in touch with them.

"I don't think you can throw race issues at the Queen."

Former palace press secretary Dickie Arbiter praised the statement, tweeting: "It's spot on, says exactly how they will handle it with no need for interpretation. Three words standout 'very seriously' and 'privately'."

The interview has also sparked political reaction, with Labour MP Nadia Whittome calling for an investigation into the race comments, though Prime Minister Boris Johnson has declined to comment.

Meghan's father Thomas Markle Snr gave his verdict on Good Morning Britain, saying he was upset to hear his daughter had felt suicidal and saying he was there for her if she wanted to reach out.

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