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Queen says she's saddened by Harry and Meghan's experiences following explosive interview

Queen Elizabeth and her family said on Tuesday that they were saddened to learn of the experiences of Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, saying they would address issues around race that were raised by the couple in an interview with Oprah Winfrey.

'Whilst some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously,' Buckingham Palace says

Palace issues stark response to Meghan, Harry’s interview

The National

2 months ago
2:03
Buckingham Palace issued a stark response amid the chaos surrounding Prince Harry and Meghan’s bombshell interview, which included an outburst from well-known TV personality Piers Morgan. 2:03

Queen Elizabeth and her family said on Tuesday that they were saddened to learn of the experiences of Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, saying they would address issues around race that were raised by the couple in an interview with Oprah Winfrey.

"The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan," Buckingham Palace said in a statement.

"The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning. Whilst 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."

The interview — in which Harry and Meghan accused a family member of making a racist remark about their son and courtiers of ignoring her pleas for help when she was suicidal — has dragged the royals into their biggest crisis since the death of Harry's mother Diana in 1997, when the family, led by Queen Elizabeth, was widely criticized for being too slow to respond.

In the two-hour show, originally aired on CBS on Sunday, Harry also said his father, heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles, had let him down.

In their interview with Oprah Winfrey, broadcast in the U.S. on March 7, Meghan said a member of the Royal Family had expressed 'concerns' to Harry about the colour of her unborn child's skin. (Harpo Productions/Joe Pugliese/Reuters)

Monarchy 'needs to adapt again'

Before Buckingham Palace released its statement, Charles was asked by a reporter what he thought of the interview while he was visiting a COVID-19 vaccine pop-up clinic in London. He stopped and looked up before turning and walking off without comment.

British media has said the interview — watched by 12.4 million viewers in Britain and 17.1 million in the United States — had triggered a crisis and the monarchy needed to adapt to survive, however difficult a response might be.

"It could hardly be more damaging to the Royal Family, not least because there is little it can do to defend itself," the Times said in a lead article under the title "Royal Attack."

"The key to the monarchy's survival over the centuries has been its ability to adapt to the needs of the times. It needs to adapt again," the Times said.

In a statement Tuesday, broadcaster CBS said it would rebroadcast the interview this Friday.

Rocky relationship with press

Nearly three years since her star-studded wedding in Windsor Castle, Meghan gained sympathy in the United States by casting some unidentified members of the Royal Family as uncaring, mendacious or guilty of racist remarks.

Meghan and Harry have also had a torrid relationship with the British press, successfully taking papers to court on occasions, and have repeatedly questioned what they say is reporting tainted by racist overtones.

Harry said in the interview he did not know where to turn when faced with such troubling media coverage and felt hurt when his family failed to call out racist reporting.

He said the Royal Family had an unhealthy silent agreement with the British tabloids and that the family was paranoid about the media turning on them.

"There is a level of control by fear that has existed for generations and generations," Harry said.

Journalist and TV presenter Piers Morgan, who has long directed criticism at Meghan, left the British network ITV on Tuesday after he came under fire for casting doubt on her remarks in the interview, including her account of having considered suicide.

Morgan's comments triggered more than 41,000 complaints to Britain's media regulator, which announced an investigation under its "harm and offence" rules.

Trudeau questioned on monarchy

For the monarchy, which traces its history through 1,000 years of British and English history to William the Conqueror, Meghan's bombshell has been compared to the crises over the death of Diana and the 1936 abdication of Edward VIII.

In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday that his government won't engage in constitutional talks about  the future of the monarchy while a pandemic is still raging and the country faces unprecedented economic disruption.

"Obviously, I wish all members of the Royal Family the very best. But my focus, as we've said, is getting through this pandemic," Trudeau said when asked if Canada should rethink its ties to the House of Windsor following the interview. Meanwhile, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh told reporters it's time to do away with the institution of the monarchy altogether.

"I've said it in the past: I don't see the benefit of the monarchy in Canadians' lives," Singh said. "There's no benefit to them and now, even more so with concerns about racism in the institution that were raised and pressures that were placed on Meghan Markle."

WATCH | Trudeau declines comment on Harry and Meghan's allegations:

'I won't comment on what's going on over in the U.K.' — Trudeau

Politics News

2 months ago
2:23
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he "won't comment on what's going on over in the U.K." after being asked about allegations of racism made against the Royal Family in Oprah's interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. 2:23

Johnson watched interview

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson watched the interview, his spokesperson said on Tuesday, but would not be making any further comment on it.

Johnson said on Monday he had the highest admiration for the Queen but that he did not want to speak about the interview.

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her nation was unlikely to stop having the Queen as head of state soon.

Opponents of the monarchy said the allegations made by Meghan and Harry showed how rotten the institution was — and that the palace's public relations machine had created a distorted image of the royals.

"Now people are getting a much clearer picture of what the monarchy is really like. And it doesn't look good," said Graham Smith, head of Republic, a campaign group that seeks to abolish the monarchy.

"With the Queen likely to be replaced by King Charles during this decade, the position of the monarchy has rarely looked weaker," Smith said.

WATCH | What are the consequences of Meghan and Harry's interview?

What are the consequences of Meghan and Harry’s interview?

The National

2 months ago
6:56
Royal commentator Roya Nikkhah and women's rights activist Shola Mos-Shogbamimu talk to Adrienne Arsenault about the revelations in Prince Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah Winfrey, the media reaction in the U.S. and U.K. and what, if any, changes might come out of it. 6:56

Markle's father comments

Some royal supporters cast Meghan, 39, an American former actor, as a publicity seeker with an eye on Hollywood stardom.

But the gravity of the claims has raised uncomfortable questions about how the British monarchy, which survived centuries of revolution that toppled their cousins across Europe, could function in a meritocratic world.

Meghan, whose mother is Black and father is white, described discussions within the Royal Family about the colour of her son's skin. Archie was born to the duke and duchess in May 2019. 

"In those months when I was pregnant, all around this same time — so we have in tandem the conversation of, you won't be given security, not gonna be given a title (for Archie) and also concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he's born," said Meghan.

She declined to say who had voiced such concerns, as did Harry. Winfrey later told CBS that Harry had said it was not the Queen or her 99-year-old husband Prince Philip, who has been in hospital for three weeks while the crisis unfolds.

Meghan's estranged father Thomas Markle, whom she has not spoken to since her wedding, said on Tuesday he did not think the Royal Family was racist, and hoped an alleged remark from a family member about the colour of the skin of Meghan's son was a "dumb question."

A family gathers around the television in Liverpool, northwest England, to watch Harry and Meghan's interview on Monday. The interview was watched by 12.4 million viewers in Britain. (Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images)

Where to get help:

Clarifications

  • An earlier version of this story stated Meghan said her son had been denied the title of prince because there were concerns within the Royal Family "about how dark his skin might be when he's born." In fact, what she said was that she was told while pregnant that the baby would not have a title or security, and also that a senior member of the Royal Family had expressed concerns to Harry about how dark the baby's skin might be.
    Mar 09, 2021 2:15 PM ET

With files from CBC News

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