White powder letter sent to Meghan Markle treated as racist hate crime

Vikram Dodd Police and crime correspondent
Prince Harry and fiancee Meghan Markle. Photograph: Ben Birchall/AP

Police say they are treating as a racist hate crime a letter containing white powder sent to Meghan Markle, which sparked an anthrax scare.

The letter was received this month at St James’s Palace in central London. The powder inside was found to be harmless after being examined by experts.

It is understood the package contained a racist note and was received on 12 February.

In a statement, Scotland Yard said: “Officers are also investigating an allegation of malicious communications, which relates to the same package, and it is being treated as a racist hate crime.”

The force added: “The matter is being investigated by officers from the Met’s counter-terrorism command.”

Markle is from a mixed-race background. She is due to marry Prince Harry in May. The letter was received at the palace shortly before a package containing white powder also prompted a scare at the Palace of Westminster.

The Evening Standard newspaper said the royal couple had been informed of the suspicious package.

The police inquiry is trying to determine if the same person or people were responsible for the sending of the letter to Markle and the parcel to the Houses of Parliament.

Anthrax can be weaponised in powder form and is potentially deadly. But there have been a number of scares where harmless white powder has been sent to prominent people.

Scotland Yard said in a statement: “Police are investigating after a package containing a substance was delivered to St James’s Palace on Monday 12 February.

“The substance was tested and confirmed as non-suspicious. Officers are also investigating an allegation of malicious communications, which relates to the same package. No arrests; inquiries continue.”

A spokesperson for St James’s Palace said they would not comment and it was a matter for the police.