Harry and Meghan interview: Labour MP condemns Palace amid calls for investigation over racism claims

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·6-min read

Watch: Meghan and Harry on Oprah: Duchess tells chat show host she contemplated suicide

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have plunged the monarchy into crisis with a series of astonishing claims made in an interview with Oprah Winfrey. 

The couple suggested the family were jealous of Meghan, revealed that she contemplated taking her own life while pregnant, and claimed an unnamed royal had expressed "concerns" about their son Archie's skin colour.

The claims have put the focus firmly on Buckingham Palace, which must now decide whether to respond directly to the allegations.

The pair said working for The Firm had ultimately left Meghan feeling that ending her life was an option, and that she had not been protected by the monarchy.

Asked if she had been feeling suicidal, Meghan replied: “Yes. This was very, very clear.'

Harry and Meghan said a member of the Royal Family – who they refused to identify – had been worried about how dark Archie’s skin tone might be before he was born.

Meghan told Winfrey there had been “concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he is born”.

The Palace has come under criticism following the interview, including by a Labour MP.

UNSPECIFIED - UNSPECIFIED: In this handout image provided by Harpo Productions and released on March 5, 2021, Oprah Winfrey interviews Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on A CBS Primetime Special premiering on CBS on March 7, 2021. (Photo by Harpo Productions/Joe Pugliese via Getty Images)
The interview including shocking claims of racist comments made from an unnamed royal. (Getty Images)

Labour MP Nadia Whittome tweeted: “When Meghan Markle was accused of bullying, Buckingham Palace immediately announced an investigation.

“Now that Meghan has revealed comments about her child’s skin colour, will they investigate racism in the Palace? I won’t be holding my breath."

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said Meghan's allegations must be taken seriously. 

Speaking during a visit to a school in Dagenham, east London, he said: “It is really sad to see the family in turmoil like this.

"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.

“This is bigger than the Royal Family. For too many years we have been too dismissive and too willing to put these issues to one side.”

Shadow education secretary Kate Green added: "Really distressing, shocking and if there are allegations of racism I would expect them to be treated by the palace with the utmost seriousness and fullly investigated."

Asked if the interview demands a response, she added: "I'm sure the palace will be thinking very carefully about that and I think people will be wondering what will be said but there's never any excuse in any circumstances for racism.

"It's important that action is taken to investigate what are really shocking allegations."

Children's minister Vicky Ford said: “There’s no place for racism in our society and we all need to work together to stop it.”

Of Meghan's revelation that she was left feeling suicidal as a senior royal, Ford said mental health was a "big issue".

ITV royal editor Chris Ship said: "Uncomfortable does not begin to describe these allegations."

However, Downing Street has refused to comment. 

Asked whether Boris Johnson agreed that the allegations needed to be taken seriously, the PM's spokesman said: “It is a matter for the Palace but the prime minister hasn’t seen those interviews.”

WINDSOR, ENGLAND - MAY 19:  Dean Stott (R) arrives at the wedding of Prince Harry to Ms Meghan Markle at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England.  (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Friend Dean Stott at Harry and Meghan's wedding in May 2018. (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Read more: Five things we found out for the first time about Harry and Meghan's relationship

Dean Stott, a friend of Prince Harry who went to their wedding, aimed his criticism at royal aides, saying: "I've worked with the Royal Foundation myself, I've rubbed shoulders with the family, they are very warm and open, there is no arrogance at all – that comes from the aides.

"None of the family have a voice, they are trapped within this system.

"I think the royal aides are doing them a disservice."

Reflecting on her mental health concerns, Stott said: "When you're in an institution that is not going to protect you or support you, it's really clear now why they had to step back.

"Meghan was very vocal about her mental health, and no one was offering her support.

"This is an institution that has a foundation which raises money for mental health.

"I raised £900,000 for the royal foundation mental health and they can't even deal with one of their own members of the family."

He added that they wanted to "control their narrative" but said "there's a difference between intrusion and consent".

Watch: Meghan Markle claims the Royal Family was concerned about how dark Archie's skin would be

Read more: Harry and Meghan reveal Archie's 'hysterical' newest word

Meghan's friend Serena Williams joined supporters of the duchess after the interview.

She tweeted: "I know first hand the sexism and racism institutions and the media use to vilify women and people of colour to minimise us, to break us down and demonise us. We must recognise our obligation to decry malicious, unfounded gossip and tabloid journalism. The mental health consequences of systemic oppression and victimisation are devastating, isolating and all too often lethal."

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 01:  (L-R) Meghan Markle, Serena Williams and Hannah Davis participate in the DirecTV Beach Bowl at Pier 40 on February 1, 2014 in New York City.  (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for DirecTV)
Meghan was defended by friend Serena Williams, pictured here together in 2014 in New York City. (Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for DirecTV)

Read more: Royals 'had concerns about Archie's skin colour': Most explosive claims about Royal Family from Meghan Markle’s Oprah interview

Professor Kate Williams highlighted concerns raised by Meghan's claim that she wasn't supported with her mental health problems: "It is a painful and shocking parallel: that not long after marrying into the Royal Family, Diana in 1984 and Meghan in 2019 were experiencing suicidal thoughts – and there was no help."

She added: "Those denying Meghan’s suicidal thoughts – it is an absolute disgrace. Such ‘I don’t believe it’ is why people don’t speak out about mental health, why they suffer in silence, feel shame. We need to be better than this."

Oprah With Meghan And Harry will air on ITV at 9pm on 8 March.

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