Queen 'wants more time' before responding to Harry and Meghan interview

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·5 min read

Watch: Buckingham Palace yet to respond to explosive Harry and Meghan interview

The Queen is reported to want more time to consider the Buckingham Palace response to explosive claims made by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in their interview with Oprah Winfrey.

Her grandson and granddaughter-in-law said they were left unsupported by the palace, particularly when the Duchess of Sussex suffered suicidal thoughts while pregnant with her first child, and claimed there had been racist comments made about the colour of their child's skin.

Winfrey was quick to say that Harry had asked her to ensure it was clear it was not the Queen or Prince Philip who had a conversation with the prince about "how dark" their future child's skin might be, but they have not confirmed who did make the remark or any further context.

Pressure has been growing on the palace to make a fuller response to the interview than its usual "never complain, never explain" approach.

Crisis talks are likely to have been held and private secretaries will have met to discuss matters.

However The Times reported that the Queen "refused to sign off a prepared statement that officials had hoped would de-escalate tensions" and is "believed to want more time to consider her response".

Camilla Tominey, associate editor of The Telegraph, told This Morning that it was likely she wanted to wait for the programme to have been broadcast in the UK as well as the US.

Reaction to the explosive claims began on Monday after the show aired in the US on Sunday night, but with the full programme reaching more than 11 million people in Britain via ITV on Monday evening, the fallout may continue for several more days.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II attends the Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Cenotaph on Whitehall in central London, on November 8, 2020. - Remembrance Sunday is an annual commemoration held on the closest Sunday to Armistice Day, November 11, the anniversary of the end of the First World War and services across Commonwealth countries remember servicemen and women who have fallen in the line of duty since WWI. This year, the service has been closed to members of the public due to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Aaron Chown / POOL / AFP) (Photo by AARON CHOWN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
The Queen, here in November 2020, was said to want more time on a statement. (AFP)

Read more: The poll that shows Britons have little sympathy for either Harry and Meghan or the royals

Winfrey said she interviewed the couple for a total of three and a half hours, and with less than two full hours airing so far, there could be more clips and segments of her questions to come.

Following the US airing, Winfrey released more clips on CBS This Morning, including a segment with Meghan discussing her father, Thomas Markle Snr.

She said she had felt betrayed by him when he denied working with tabloid photographers in the run up to the May 2018 royal wedding.

Responding on Good Morning Britain on Tuesday, Markle Snr said he had apologised "100 times" and that he wanted to see his grandchild, pointing out he now lives around 70 miles away from the couple.

He said: "I wish I hadn't done the whole thing.

"No one took any time to protect any member of our family. We were attacked by the press every day."

Watch: How are people reacting to the Harry and Meghan interview?

Read more: Harry and Meghan interview: Labour MP condemns Palace amid calls for investigation over racism claims

Markle Snr also said of his daughter: "I feel she let me down - I was in a hospital bed last time I heard from them and I never heard from them again."

The Winfrey interview has also led to political fallout, with the Labour party calling for an investigation into the allegations of a racist comment being made by a royal.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said on Monday: “The issues that Meghan has raised of racism and mental health are really serious issues.

“It is a reminder that too many people experience racism in 21st century Britain. We have to take that very, very seriously.”

Shadow education secretary Kate Green told Sky News: “If there are allegations of racism, I would expect them to be treated by the palace with the utmost seriousness and fully investigated.”

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 10: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Queen Elizabeth II, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex watch a flypast to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force from the balcony of Buckingham Palace on July 10, 2018 in London, England. The 100th birthday of the RAF, which was founded on on 1 April 1918, was marked with a centenary parade with the presentation of a new Queen's Colour and flypast of 100 aircraft over Buckingham Palace. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
Harry and Meghan with the Queen in London in July 2018. (Indigo/Getty Images)

But on Monday, prime minister Boris Johnson had dodged making any comments saying: "I have always had the highest admiration for the Queen and the unifying role that she plays in our country and across the Commonwealth.”

He added “all other matters to do with the royal family, I have spent a long time now not commenting on royal family matters and I don’t intend to depart from that today”.

The reaction in the US has been very supportive, with even the White House press secretary offering positive thoughts.

Jen 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.”

Former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton said: "Their cruelty in going after Meghan was just outrageous and the fact she did not get more support, that the reaction was, you know, let’s just paper it over and pretend that it didn’t happen or it will go away, just keep your head down, well, you know, this young woman was not about to keep her head down, you know, this is 2021.”

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Watch: Not Queen or Duke of Edinburgh who made alleged racist comment, says Oprah Winfrey