By Ariel Steinsaltz
Last week, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, sat down for an interview with Oprah where they revealed details about their lack of support from the British royal family and the racism expressed by members of the family. Since then, there have been wide-ranging reactions in the U.K. and around the world.
The initial statement from Buckingham Palace was brief, only stating that the accusations of racism would be “taken very seriously” and that the royal family was “saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan.”
Other members of the family, such as Harry’s father Prince Charles, refused to comment. Neither Prince Harry nor Markle would reveal which member of the family made the comments about baby Archie’s skin color, but Prince Harry said it was not Queen Elizabeth or Prince Philip, according to NPR.
Journalist Gayle King reported on Tuesday that Prince Harry had discussions with his father and his brother, Prince William, both of whom he revealed he had strained relationships with. King said that the conversations were not productive, but Prince Harry was glad to have opened up a dialogue with his family members, and that he and Markle both wanted to heal the family. The family has not reached out to Markle, according to CBS News.
Prince William said that the royal family was “very much not” racist, and that Prince Charles was reportedly upset by Prince Harry’s comments. The palace has said they want to work the issues out privately, but King says that the duke and duchess are upset that negative stories about Markle continue to circulate in the press, according to CBS News.
One such story is the investigation that Buckingham Palace has opened into Markle’s alleged bullying of royal staff. Following a report that an aide had made a complaint against Markle in 2018, the palace said it would be investigating. A spokesperson expressed the couple’s views that the claims were false and the investigation was a smear campaign. The palace has now hired an external law firm for the investigation, but says they will not be providing public commentary, CNN reports.
Many people expressed support for the duke and duchess including journalist Maria Shriver, Vice President Kamala Harris’s niece Meena Harris, and tennis star Serena Williams who said she understands the “pain and cruelty” Markle has experienced as a woman of color. The White House praised the couple’s courage in speaking about their mental health, according to CNET.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama said that she was not surprised by the couple’s allegations and that she hopes the royal family will see this as a teachable moment. She also expressed her hope that the family would find a way to reconcile, according to The Guardian.
Also not surprised by the couple’s allegations was comedian and star of “Last Week Tonight,” John Oliver. Shortly after the interview aired, a clip began to resurface from 2018 of Oliver on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” in which he told Colbert that he predicted “emotional complications” for Markle marrying into the royal family, saying that they were a flawed institution and he would not marry into the family himself.
In an interview on “The Tonight Show,” Oliver praised the interview but said, “That is kind of what I felt like, sadly, her experience was going to be going in,” according to People.
Not all of the responses have been positive, and the duke and duchess’s approval ratings have taken a steep hit in the U.K. However, their approval rating in the U.S. has gone up significantly.
Meanwhile, the couple themselves have returned to their work, and announced that their charitable foundation will be backing organizations that focus on racial justice, mental health and diversity in the media, according to USA Today.