LONDON — In the wake of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s controversial interview with Oprah Winfrey that aired March 7, Prince William defended the British Monarchy and denied any allegations of racism in the family, the Associated Press reported March 11.
On March 9, Queen Elizabeth expressed that the Royal Family is “saddened” by the allegations of racism levelled against the monarchy and will address the matter with the family “privately,” according to the official Buckingham Palace statement.
According to CNN, Markle had made formal complaints to ITV following the inflammatory comments made by Piers Morgan towards her. On March 9, Morgan also unceremoniously resigned as a presenter from the Good Morning Britain (GMB) show after storming off the set in response to a colleague’s criticism about his comments on Markle’s mental health.
The Duke of Cambridge was the first royal to directly address the interview with Winfrey, according to AP.
“We’re very much not a racist family,” the Duke of Cambridge commented to the press as he was on his way to an east London school.
He said that he has not spoken to his brother Prince Harry about the interview but plans to.
During the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s conversation with Winfrey, the couple revealed that there were “concerns and conversations about how dark [Archie’s] skin might be when he’s born.” On March 8, Winfrey clarified that according to Prince Harry, it was not the Queen nor Prince Philip who made such comments.
Markle, who had been a target of venomous British tabloids, also alleged that the Royal Family had ignored her mental health struggles, including when she voiced she felt suicidal, Reuters reported.
“I just didn’t want to be alive anymore,” Markle told Winfrey in the interview.
A royal source told Reuters that the Palace considered the issues raised in the interview a family matter, adding that they are entitled to the opportunity to first discuss the issues internally as a family unit.
“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 stated in a statement released two days after the interview aired.
“The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning. While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately. Meghan and Archie will always be much-loved family members.”
Queen protected Andrew from press but not Harry and Meghan, some say
12.4 million Britons and 17.1 million Americans tuned in on the interview on March 7, a spectacle that had ignited polarized responses from the public on both sides of the Atlantic.
“It could hardly be more damaging to the royal family, not least because there is little it can do to defend itself,” The Times wrote, characterizing the widespread reaction to the revelations as one of “sorrow.”
“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.”
In the March 8 episode of GMB, political and women’s rights activist Dr. Shola Mos-Shogbamimu had expressed that neither the queen nor the Royal Family were above reproach, specifically addressing Morgan about the colonial legacy of the monarchy, which goes back 1,000 years of British history to William the Conqueror.
“The royal family is an institution rooted in colonialism, white supremacy, and racism. The legacy is right there,” she said.
“So you’re now surprised that a comment would have been made by several members of the royal family about how dark Archie’s skin is.”
The Queen is not above reproach. She & the Royal Family are neither faultless or perfect. They have a case to answer for the failure to support #HarryandMeghan from racism/ hate media which led to them stepping back royal duties. #HarryandMeghanonOprah #OprahMeghanHarry #GMB pic.twitter.com/5ZIkLyOCR3— Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu (@SholaMos1) March 8, 2021
Mos-Shogbamimu also believed that the queen is complicit in what some have described as the tabloid press’s “hate campaign” towards Markle, the most vigorous perpetrators being the Daily Mail and Express.
“What kind of grandmother would be so close to her grandson Harry but then not use her power and influence as Queen to protect them from the racist media coverage?” asked on the March 8 episode of GMB.
“What kind of grandmother would protect her own son Prince Andrew from the potential crime of raping a minor but would do jack all to protect Harry and Meghan?” she continued. “Especially — I have no doubt — when she would have heard about the suicidal thoughts.”
To illustrate the disparity, BuzzFeed performed a side-by-side comparison of headlines about Markle and Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, reporting similar content but vastly different depictions of each subject.
Comparison of tabloid coverage on Kate Middleton’ and Meghan Markle’s avocado consumption (PHOTO: Courtesy of Buzzfeed)
The Palace’s phrase “Some recollections may vary” was another point of contention for many, especially on social media, who interpreted the noncommittal, dismissive language as a means of gaslighting — psychological manipulation that causes a person to doubt their sanity.
“Not really sure how recollections can vary when there are questions about how un-white a baby might be, but also, this is gaslighting,” Lainey Lui wrote, pointing out how the queen’s “patronizing” closing statement about love.
“It’s a colonizer gaslighting the parents of a biracial child, one of whom is a Black woman, and whitesplaining to them what is and isn’t racist.”
Whitesplaining is a neologism that describes a white person commenting — usually in condescending terms — on the minority experience, especially of racial prejudice and discrimination.
Piers Morgan walks off GMB set, then quits
Gaslighting or not, the act of trivializing Markle’s mental health struggles would be in league with Morgan’s comments on GMB on March 8, the morning after the interview was aired in the US.
Morgan had dismissed several of Markle’s claims, including that she harboured suicidal thoughts while as a working royal.
“They’ve trashed his dad. They’ve trashed his brother. They’ve trashed his sister-in-law. They’ve trashed everything the queen has worked so hard to maintain, the monarchy. And we’re supposed to believe they’re compassionate,” he said on GMB.
Morgan later tweeted, “I wouldn’t believe Meghan Markle if she gave me a weather report.”
I wouldn’t believe Meghan Markle if she gave me a weather report.— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) March 8, 2021
In the wake of his on-air tirade, viewers inundated Ofcom with over 41,000 complaints about the morning program that afternoon, spurring an inquiry into the matter.
“We have launched an investigation into Monday’s episode of Good Morning Britain under our harm and offence rules,” the media regulator tweeted.
The following day, on March 9, Morgan faced criticism from co-host Alex Beresford, who brought up Morgan’s personal history with Markle, which may have motivated his bottomless vitriol towards her. At one point in time, Morgan and Markle had shared a friendship before falling out for unknown reasons.
“Has she said anything about you since she cut you off? I don’t think she has, but yet you continue to trash her,” the GMB weatherman said. Shortly thereafter, Morgan walked off the set.
In the aftermath of the episode, Beresford said that Morgan’s abrupt departure “was not the conclusion I was hoping for.”
“Over the last few years, Piers and I have had a lively, cheeky on-air relationship,” he said in a statement he tweeted on March 11. “We both knew how strongly our opinions differed on the treatment of Harry and Meghan pre- and post- the interview that has split the world.”
“I didn’t want him to quit, but I did want him to listen,” Bereford wrote.
Alex Beresford’s statement regarding Piers Morgan’s departure (PHOTO: Courtesy of Alex Beresford)
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