Buckingham Palace silent after Harry and Meghan's Oprah interview airs in UK

9 March 2021, 05:56 | Updated: 10 March 2021, 05:11

Harry and Meghan's bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey caught the attention of the world
Harry and Meghan's bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey caught the attention of the world. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Buckingham Palace is yet to comment after Harry and Meghan's bombshell Oprah Winfrey interview aired in the UK.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex laid out a string of stunning revelations and allegations about their brief time as working royals in their chat with the American talk show host.

During the nearly two-hour broadcast, which was shown in the UK on Monday night, the couple claimed that a member of the family - not the Queen or Duke of Edinburgh - made a racist comment about their unborn son, Archie.

Harry and Meghan's Oprah interview: How the UK's newspapers reacted

Meghan told Winfrey that one individual expressed concern about how dark the one-year-old's skin tone might be before he was born.

Among the other revelations, the duchess also told the interviewer that her time as a working royal had left her having suicidal thoughts and contemplating taking her own life, but her approaches to the monarchy for help were turned down.

And when Harry joined the chat, he revealed the royal pair were having a baby girl in the summer.

Queen and Philip did not make comment about Archie’s skin tone, Harry tells Oprah

Other key revelations and points from the Oprah Winfrey interview on CBS include:

  • Harry felt "really let down" by his father Prince Charles
  • Rift between Harry and William continues and they're on "different paths"
  • Harry denied "blindsiding" the Queen when stepping down as royal
  • Meghan said sister-in-law Kate made her cry ahead of her wedding
  • Harry: Royal Family "cut me off financially" in first quarter of 2020
  • Meghan suggested Archie was not made a prince because of his race (although rules set by George V meant he was not entitled to be one)

Meghan Markle's father dismisses suggestion that Royals or British people are racist

Buckingham Palace is yet to respond to claims made by the Sussexes in the interview.

Officials reportedly had a prepared statement highlighting the family's love and concern for the couple, but it was not signed off by the Queen.

The Times newspaper reported that the monarch wanted more time to consider her response.

Harry and Meghan's Oprah interview - reaction as the UK watched

Meanwhile, royal biographer Andrew Morton said the fallout from the broadcast will "shudder down through the generations in the same way that Diana's did".

In her now-infamous 1995 Panorama interview, Harry's mother, Diana, the Princess of Wales, called royal officials "the enemy" and questioned Charles, the Prince of Wales' suitability to be King.

Mr Morton, who wrote Diana: Her True Story in 1992 - a book the princess secretly collaborated on - told ITV: "We are having a re-run of so many things, that Harry's concerned about Meghan, that she would suffer the same fate as his mother.

"We have forgotten nothing, remembered nothing.

"Make no mistake, the fall out from this will shudder down through the generations, in the same way that Diana's did."

The interview was first shown in the US on Monday morning (GMT) but was aired on ITV on Monday night. Viewing figures for the ITV broadcast hit a peak of 12.3 million.

Meghan tells Oprah: 'I just didn't want to be alive anymore'

Life in the Palace has not been so publicly exposed since the "War of the Waleses", when the turmoil of Charles and Diana's disintegrating marriage was laid bare in the 1990s.

It is a year on Tuesday since Meghan and Harry made their final official public engagement as senior working royals, attending the Commonwealth Day service in Westminster Abbey.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki praised Harry and Meghan's courage when asked if US President Joe Biden had watched the interview.

Ms Psaki told journalists on Monday: "For anyone to come forward and speak about their own struggles with mental health and tell their own personal story, that takes courage.

"That's certainly something the president believes."

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the allegations made by the duchess must be taken seriously.

He said: "Nobody, but nobody, should be prejudiced (against) because of the colour of their skin or because of their mental health issues."

Meghan and Harry 'got married three days before public ceremony'

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".

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."

James O'Brien explains why people who dislike Meghan 'don't know why'

The 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."

'Why'd they do it? What will they gain?' Royal commentator questions interview

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?"

Harry was equally cutting about the financial support he received from his 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".

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.

If you are affected by any of the above and need emotional support then contact the Samaritans helpline 24 hours a day on 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org, visit a Samaritans branch or visit their website.