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The royal family is in crisis after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex suggested it was a racist and uncaring institution, as they made a series of shocking revelations in their Oprah Winfrey interview.
Meghan and Harry laid bare their brief lives as a working royal couple, alleging a member of the family – not the Queen or Duke of Edinburgh – made a racist comment about their son, and how the duchess had suicidal thoughts but her approaches to the monarchy for help were turned down.
Winfrey was left opened-mouthed when the duchess – the first mixed-race member of the modern monarchy – said a fellow royal was worried about how dark their son Archie’s skin tone might be before he was born.
And during the candid interview where the duchess appeared vulnerable, Meghan suggested her son was not made a prince because of his race – although rules set by George V meant he was not entitled to be one.
Pressure mounted on the palace after Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the allegations made by the duchess must be taken seriously.
Sir Keir said: “Nobody, but nobody, should be prejudiced (against) because of the colour of their skin or because of their mental health issues.”
Buckingham Palace has yet to respond to claims made by the Sussexes in the interview.
Other revelations included Harry’s admission he has become estranged from his father, the Prince of Wales, saying: “I feel really let down”, but added that he would make it one of his priorities “to try and heal that relationship”.
Describing how she had been misrepresented in the press, Meghan said the Duchess of Cambridge had made her cry ahead of her wedding – the opposite of reports circulating ahead of the Sussexes’ nuptials that Meghan left Kate in tears at Princess Charlotte’s bridesmaid dress fitting.
In a lighter moment, the couple, who announced in February that they are expecting their second child, said they are due to have a baby girl in the summer.
Winfrey asked of Archie’s lack of title: “Do you think it’s because of his race? I know that’s a loaded question.”
Meghan replied: “I can give you an honest answer. In those months when I was pregnant, all around this same time, so we (had) the conversation of he won’t be given security, he’s not going to be given a title.
“And also concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born.”
The stunned chat show host was told it had been raised by a member of the royal family with Harry.
The duchess said: “That was relayed to me from Harry, those were conversations the family had with him, and I think it was really hard to be able to see those as compartmentalised conversations.”
Meghan would not say who the family member was and when Harry was later asked about the episode he also declined to name the person and said: “That conversation, I am never going to share. At the time it was awkward, I was a bit shocked.”
The duke also added that none of his relatives spoke out in support of Meghan following the racism he said she faced in the media.
“No-one from my family ever said anything over those three years. That hurts,” Harry said.
Commenting on her mental health crisis, when she felt she did not “want to be alive anymore”, the duchess said: “I went to the institution, and I said that I needed to go somewhere to get help. I said that, ‘I’ve never felt this way before, and I need to go somewhere.’
“And I was told that I couldn’t, that it wouldn’t be good for the institution.”
Meghan described how nothing was done when she contacted other unnamed individuals and she “had to find a solution”.
When Winfrey suggested if the answer was “I don’t want to be alive anymore,” Meghan replied “Well, I thought it would have solved everything for everyone, right?”
They also disclosed that they were married by the Archbishop of Canterbury three days before their formal ceremony, although it has since been reported this was a private exchange of vows.
What wonderful news to celebrate on International Women’s Day! Congratulations my friends, and welcome to the #girldad club H ❤️#internationalwomensday #womenshistorymonth #remoteshoot #shotonipad #shotbymisan #itsagirl pic.twitter.com/OONzZrBBYK
— Misan Harriman (@misanharriman) March 8, 2021
Life behind palace doors has not been exposed to this degree since the days of the “War of the Waleses”, when the turmoil of Charles and Diana’s disintegrating marriage was laid bare in the 1990s.
In a damning comment, the duchess claimed the monarchy had double standards when it came to handling negative press stories – failing to protect the Sussexes but lying to defend other members of the royal family.
She said: “It was only once we were married and everything started to really worsen that I came to understand that not only was I not being protected, but that they were willing to lie to protect other members of the family. But they weren’t willing to tell the truth to protect me and my husband.”
Harry was equally cutting about the financial support he received from family, saying they “literally cut me off financially” in the first quarter of 2020, and he went for the Netflix and Spotify deals to pay for his security.
He said he had what Diana left him and “without that we would not have been able to do this”.
Speaking after the programme aired in the US on Sunday night, Winfrey said the full interview was three hours and 20 minutes long and was edited down to one hour and 25 minutes for the US broadcast.
In the wake of the interview, a touching family photograph of the Sussexes and their young son Archie was released.
The black and white image taken and shared by photographer Misan Harriman captures a smiling, pregnant Meghan stood by a tree cuddling her son as Harry stands behind her, embracing his wife.