Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s supporters are standing firm.
Days after a tell-all interview between the two and Oprah Winfrey aired in which the royal duo made allegations of racism and mistreatment against the royal family, Buckingham Palace’s response has failed to quiet the controversy.
Observers have criticized the royal family for not openly condemning racism, but instead suggesting that Markle and Harry’s version of events may not be accurate.
In the interview, Markle, 39, claimed that at one point, her husband was approached by a senior member of the Institution to discuss the skin tone of their then-unborn child.
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In their statement released after the interview aired, Buckingham Palace said the family was “saddened” to learn of the couple’s struggles and noted that the allegations surrounding race were “concerning,” but added that “some recollections may vary.”
Nonetheless, the Palace said that Markle and Harry’s comments are being “taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately.”
“Too little, too late” was the verdict of royal commentator Peter Hunt, who also voiced criticism over the family handling the matter privately.
“This delayed, tame statement went for predictability when unpredictability — stepping out of the Windsor comfort zone — was what was needed,” Hunt wrote on the website of the influential British magazine The Spectator.
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The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s interview sparked conversations around the globe about how issues like racism and mental health are handled within the Monarchy.
Their frank discussion reportedly sparked crisis talks amongst the royal family and their close aides, but British Monarchy historian Ed Owens said that pressure will remain on the family to publicly address what Harry and Markle brought up.
“There are big questions here that need to be answered, and I think the press, both in the U.K., Europe and in the USA, are going to continue to ask questions about the family relationship that exists between Harry and Meghan and the Windsors in the U.K.,” he said.
Furthermore, Anna Whitelock, director of the Centre for the Study of Modern Monarchy at Royal Holloway, University of London, said the palace’s brief message had “hardened the lines” between people who believe the monarchy is an outdated bastion of inherited white privilege and those who see it as cherished national institution.
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Whitlock said that fallout from the interview could call into question the future of the monarchy itself, not only in the U.K., but also the countries in which the Queen serves as head of state.
“That’s a debate that’s been held in check, in large part, given the length of the queen’s reign and in respect to her and the role that she’s played,” Whitelock said. “But it’s going to happen, and it’s just a question of when, not if.”
The interview has drawn a massive global audience of nearly 50 million viewers but has divided those that watched.
Many people have backed Markle, saying the allegations demonstrate the need for change in an institution that hasn’t kept pace with the #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements. Others stand behind the royal family, criticizing the couple for making their damning allegations at a time when Harry’s 99-year-old grandfather, Prince Philip, remains hospitalized in London after a heart procedure.
Many Black people have said Markle’s comments highlighted the reality of racism in Britain, where the issue is too often characterized as an American problem.
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Among them is Parlament member Bell Ribeiro-Addy said she was disappointed the royal family planned to deal with Markle’s allegations privately.
Similarly, she said that she found the Palace’s lack of a direct condemnation of racism disappointing, and contradicts the swift action taken by the Palace to investigate claims of bullying made against Markle by staff.
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“The monarchy is a public institution that receives public money and any criticism of the institution should really be met with a forceful response from the institution about what they are going to do,” Ribeiro-Addy told the BBC. “We expect (that) of any institution. Why not the monarchy, why not the palace?”
The Associated Press contributed to this report