Buckingham Palace in England said issues raised in the interview with Prince Harry and Meghan, “particularly that of race, are concerning.” Piers Morgan, a TV host who said he “didn’t believe a word” of the interview, resigned.
Buckingham Palace broke nearly 48 hours of silence Tuesday about a bombshell interview with Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, saying “the whole royal family is saddened” and expressing concern about the issue of racism the couple had raised.
Assertions that a member of the royal family had raised concerns about the skin color of the couple’s son, Archie, and that a desperate Meghan had contemplated suicide dominated national discussion in Britain, where the interview with Oprah Winfrey was broadcast Monday evening.
On Tuesday, Piers Morgan, the co-host of “Good Morning Britain” on ITV news, who came under attack for saying he “didn’t believe a word” of the interview, resigned, the network said. Britain’s communications regulator received more than 41,000 complaints about his comment, it said.
In a brief statement, Buckingham Palace didn’t deny the allegations, and said “while some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately. Although measured, the statement contained some unusually strong language for Buckingham Palace.
In saying that the allegations would be addressed privately, it also indicated that the family would deal with the aftermath of the interview, and the bruised relationship that Meghan and Harry exposed, behind closed doors.
More than 11 million people, in a country of 66 million, watched the interview on
Monday, according to ITV.
Throughout the day, British media questioned who had made the racist comment about the couple’s son. Ms. Winfrey indicated after the interview that Harry had asked her to let the public know that it was neither Queen Elizabeth II, nor her husband, Prince Philip. During the interview, Harry said he had spoken to his grandmother more in the last year than for many years.
For some people, the interview, first aired in the United States on Sunday evening by CBS, offered a damning indictment of the royal family at a time when addressing racial inequality has commanded global attention. To others, it amounted to a slanted assault on an iconic British institution, with its beloved head, the queen, in the twilight of her reign and her husband in the hospital.
Amid news media reports of a palace in turmoil, with the queen demanding more time to craft a response, there was no shortage of voices from across the political spectrum. Mental health advocates, racial equality activists and even some members of Meghan’s family weighed in, notably her estranged father, Thomas Markle, who gave an interview to ITV’s Mr. Morgan, one of his daughter’s fiercest critics.
Speaking from his home in Rosarito, Mexico, Mr. Markle said the interview was the first time in four years that he had heard Meghan’s voice and that he had never met Harry or Archie. The two fell out after he spoke to the British tabloid press about her and, for health reasons, did not attend her wedding. “I’ve never stopped loving my daughter,” he said. He said he had apologized but never heard back from the couple. “She has pretty much ghosted all of her family,” he said.
Mr. Markle said that he did not think the royal family was racist and that the comment on skin color could have just been “a dumb question from somebody.” Later in the show, Mr. Morgan stormed off the set after his co-host, Alex
Beresford, took him to task for continuing to “trash” Meghan.
Hours later, ITV said in a statement that “following discussions with ITV, Piers Morgan has decided now is the time to leave Good Morning Britain.” Mental health advocates on Tuesday praised Meghan for speaking openly about
her suicidal thoughts. In the interview, Meghan described the royal life as a suffocating prison and said that she felt isolated. Yet she said she received little or no support and was told not to seek outside help, as that might reflect badly on the royal family.
Opposition lawmakers backed by racial equality activists have called the allegations of racism and prejudice distressing and said the claims should be investigated. “Post-pandemic, post-Black Lives Matter, this is the time where we are challenging old systems, old structures,” Ateh Jewel, a journalist and diversity
advocate, said on “Good Morning Britain.” “I believe Meghan when she says — and Prince Harry — when they talk about institutional racism, because I’ve experienced it,” she said.
Meghan and Harry attracted their share of critics as well, with many decrying the interview as a self-serving assault on the royal family that could weaken the monarchy. “Harry is blowing up his family,” Zac Goldsmith, a Conservative
official, wrote on Twitter. “What Meghan wants, Meghan gets.” Others questioned the newsworthiness of the interview, which has dominated discussion on both sides of the Atlantic since it was broadcast Sunday night in the
Defenders of the British tabloid press, which carried on a years-long feud with the couple and which Harry has flatly called racist, also spoke out against what they viewed as an attack. “The U.K. media is not bigoted and will not be swayed from its vital role holding the rich and powerful to account,” Ian Murray, executive of the Society of Editors,
wrote in a statement. He added that it was “strange indeed” that the couple had taken issue with the British press for intrusions into private lives but opened up to the American media.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson stayed out of it, dodging questions from reporters on almost all aspects of the dispute. “I really think that when it comes to matters to do with the royal family, the right thing for prime ministers to say is nothing,” he said on Monday during a briefing about coronavirus restrictions. In the first public appearance of a member of the royal family since the interview aired in Britain, Harry’s father, Prince Charles, visited a vaccination center in north London on Tuesday, but did not reply to a question about what he had thought of the interview.
Harry said in the interview that his relationship with Prince Charles had suffered significant damage, and that his father had for a time stopped taking his calls.