Buckingham Palace has issued a statement in response to the Harry and Meghan interview, saying race issues it brought up are “concerning” and “will be addressed”.
Following the explosive Oprah interview airing in full on UK television last night, the statement on behalf of the Queen said: “The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan.
“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.”
Live updates after Queen releases statement on Meghan and Harry
Revelations from the Oprah interview
Pressure had been mounting on the Palace to respond to accusations of racism in the Royal Family following the programme, which was first broadcast in the US on Sunday night.
What did Meghan and Harry say in the interview?
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The duchess claimed that one member of the royal household had had “several conversations” with Harry and raised “concerns” about son Archie’s skin colour before he was born and “what that would mean or look like”.
The couple refused to reveal who had made such comments, but Winfrey has since said that Harry told her it was not Prince Philip or the Queen.
Meghan also revealed she had suicidal thoughts, saying “I just didn’t want to be alive any more”, but her approaches to the institution for help were turned down.
She denied reports she had made Kate cry ahead of her May 2018 wedding, claiming “the reverse happened”.
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Prince Harry admitted to a rift with his father and said Prince Charles had stopped taking his calls for a while when the couple left for a new life in America.
The Duke of Sussex also claimed he had been “trapped” in the royal system – “like the rest of my family”.
The couple also told Oprah Winfrey they were expecting a girl and spoke of their “fairytale” life in California.
Reaction to the Palace statement
Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s former spokesman, told Sky News the response “doesn’t surprise me at all”.
“They were never going to get into a ‘he said, she said’ rebuttal.”
But he added that the Queen will be “genuinely concerned” as stated in the press release.
“Not much shocks the Queen after all she’s been through, but this is their way of saying ‘let’s try and calm this down’,” he added.
The palace will be keen to sort out not just the claims of racism but also the strained relationship between Harry and Charles, Campbell said.
“They’ll be having conversations that we will probably never know about.”
Charles Anson, press secretary to the Queen between 1990 and 1997, told Sky News the statement was “what he expected”.
“It’s important always to underline the fact that there is an understanding about what the debate’s about,” he said.
“To ensure the public knows that the family are taking this seriously, but that they wish to deal with them in the family context.”
He said that the Queen, her private secretary, other members of her team and Prince Charles would have been involved in crafting the statement.
“Probably virtually instead of face-to-face because of COVID,” he added.
But he believes that Meghan, Harry and Archie “will no doubt join in on family occasions” in the future, despite the current tensions, in light of the final part of the statement.
Labour MP Dawn Butler has described Buckingham Palace’s response as “a good start”.
She tweeted: “I think this is a good start. And I’m pleased the family will address this privately.
“However I would still like to know from the Royal Family who made whom cry? This is a simple question to answer.”
Public reaction following the programme
The UK public is split along age and political lines over who they back in the rift between the Sussexes and the Royal Family, a poll has found.
Members of the public were asked by YouGov who they sympathised with more.
On the whole, 36% of people said they sympathised more with the Queen and the Royal Family, while 22% said they sympathised more with Harry and Meghan.
However, when the respondents are broken down into ages it shows 48% of 18 to 24-year-olds sympathised more with the Sussexes, while only 9% of over-65s sided with the couple.
The results also found how opinion was split depending on political allegiances.
While 64% of Conservative voters said they sympathised with the Queen, just 8% sympathised with Harry and Meghan.
In comparison, 15% of Labour voters sympathised with the Royal Family compared to 38% who sympathised with Harry and Meghan.
Analysis: Queen ‘not going to engage in point-scoring’
By Rhiannon Mills, royal correspondent
This was not a statement they wanted to rush. The allegations of racism, bullying and a family member unsupported during a mental health crisis were too toxic.
In the end the tone was personal. The Queen making clear this was a matter that concerned her and her family greatly.
Trying to shut down any suggestions that they were uncaring, saying they’d been saddened to hear how difficult Harry and Meghan had found things.
The issues she said were serious, especially around race but Her Majesty was not going to engage in point-scoring. Instead saying that “recollections may vary”, subtly suggesting that they don’t entirely agree with everything Harry and Meghan told Oprah.
But in the Queen’s mind this is one for private discussion not for public debate.
Instead they will hope their actions speak louder than words as they continue as they have done for many years to promote issues around equality, diversity and mental health.