Queen Elizabeth and her family said on Tuesday that they were saddened to learn of the experiences of Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, saying they would address issues around race that were raised by the couple in an interview with Oprah Winfrey.
“The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement.
“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.”
The British monarchy wrestled on Tuesday to formulate a response to Meghan and Prince Harry who accused a family member of making a racist remark about their son and courtiers of ignoring her pleas for help when she was suicidal.
Meghan and Harry’s tell-all TV interview to Oprah Winfrey has dragged the royals into their biggest crisis since the death of Harry’s mother Diana in 1997, when the family, led by Queen Elizabeth, was widely criticized for being too slow to respond.
In the 2-hour show, originally aired on CBS on Sunday, Harry also said his father, heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles, had let him down.
Charles, visiting a COVID-19 vaccine pop-up clinic in London, was asked by a reporter what he thought of the interview. He stopped and looked up before turning and walking off without comment.
The interview – watched by 12.4 million viewers in Britain and 17.1 million in the United States – had triggered a crisis and the monarchy needed to adapt to survive, however difficult a response might be, British media said.
“It could hardly be more damaging to the royal family, not least because there is little it can do to defend itself,” The Times said in a lead article under the title “Royal Attack”.
“The key to the monarchy’s survival over the centuries has been its ability to adapt to the needs of the times. It needs to adapt again,” The Times said.
Together with Charles and Prince William, second in line to the throne and Harry’s elder brother, the queen will have held meetings with their private secretaries and communications chiefs, a former senior royal aide said.
“This is pretty important and they’ve got to judge it right. I think the queen will have the last say,” said the former aide, saying it was highly likely the Palace would issue a very personal statement in the name of the queen, portraying it as a family rather than institutional issue.