Prince Harry may have rowed back on his racism claim - but the damage is done and race now affects the lens through which the Royal Family are viewed

It was the middle of the night and I nearly fell off my seat in the office as Meghan and Harry implied to Oprah Winfrey that a senior royal had made racist comments about their son Archie.

In the next 48 hours William was asked, "Are you a racist family?", and the Queen was forced to make a statement. "Recollections may vary," she said.

What the Sussexes had claimed could not have been more toxic for the family and the monarchy, and since March 2021 it's continued to haunt the institution.

So, in his only UK interview last night it couldn't have been more surprising to hear Harry apparently row back.

Is there an issue in the palace with unconscious bias? He said yes. Was he implying they were racist? No, he said.

Harry blamed the press for shaping the story in that way. What he wasn't asked is why he didn't bother to correct the narrative sooner.

That's surprising when he's been so critical of his family for not shooting down negative stories about him and Meghan.

The reputational damage has been deep. Everything the Royal Family do is now viewed through the lens of their race allegations.

If I think back to William and Kate's tour of the Caribbean last year, where the Prince was criticised for not apologising for the horrors of slavery, Harry and Meghan's comments were used as proof that the other royals didn't fully understand the issue.

And then there was the recent furore over what was said to a guest at Camilla's domestic violence reception, where the Queen's lady in waiting Lady Susan Hussey questioned the heritage of campaigner Ngozi Fulani.

Immediately social media was filled with comments along the lines of: 'Well yes that makes sense, Harry and Meghan said there was a problem in the palace.'

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The palace was quick to condemn that incident and the idea that a guest to the palace wasn't made to feel welcome. It was a clear sign of how distressing I suspect the King will have found that accusation.

A man who, since becoming monarch, has gone out of his way to open up the palace to a diverse crowd, and specifically spoken about how promoting inclusivity and celebrating Britain's rich diversity is an intrinsic part of the monarch he wants to be.

All of that work being guided by a director for community engagement who's been in place since at least the end of 2021. Harry was wrong when he said they hadn't employed a "diversity tsar".

The mere discussion again of the monarchy and racism in the same sentence would make some expect a response from the royals.

And yes, more clarity around the work being done inside such an influential and respected institution would be very welcome indeed.

But Harry has left his family stuck between a rock and a hard place. You may think it's the wrong strategy, but they've decided to let their work do the talking.

In every interview, Harry has accused them of feeding stories and counter-briefing the press.

The last thing they want to do is engage, or brief, and give him any more ammunition, as they hope in the coming weeks that this will all burn out.