Racism. Bullying. Insensitivity.
Prince Harry and Meghan’s allegations of ill treatment by Britain’s royal household are so serious that some observers say Buckingham Palace’s silence on the topic has only added to the furor surrounding their TV interview with Oprah Winfrey.
While the palace often tries to stay above controversy by remaining silent and riding out the storm, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s charges are so damaging to the royal family that it will have to respond publicly, says royal biographer Angela Levin.
But that response is likely being delayed by Queen Elizabeth II’s struggle to balance her sometimes-conflicting roles as monarch and grandmother, says Levin, author of “Harry, a Biography of a Prince.” Yet she says there’s little doubt that ultimately the 94-year-old monarch will make her decision based on what’s best for the 1,000-year-old institution she has led since 1952.
“The queen has a motto: Never complain, never explain,’’ Levin told The Associated Press. “And she’s stuck with this for four decades. But I think in this climate and 2021, everything goes everywhere. There’s so much social media that in this instance, she really can’t not say anything.”
The Times of London reported Tuesday that a palace statement had been delayed because the queen wanted more time. The newspaper didn’t cite a source for the information.
The interview, which aired Sunday night in the U.S. and a day later in Britain, has rocked the royal family and divided people around the world. While many say the allegations demonstrate the need for change inside a palace that hasn’t kept pace with the #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements, others have criticized Harry and Meghan for dropping their bombshell while Harry’s 99-year-old grandfather, Prince Philip, remains hospitalized in London after a heart procedure.
During the two-hour interview, Meghan described feeling so isolated and miserable inside the royal family that she had had suicidal thoughts, yet when she asked for mental health help from the palace’s human resources staff she was told she was not an employee. She also said a member of the family had expressed “concerns” to Harry about the color of her unborn child’s skin.
In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, shared that she and Prince Harry experienced racism while living in the royal household. The couple said their departure from the royal family was a decision made for their family’s mental health.
Winfrey later said Harry told her off camera that the family member was not Queen Elizabeth II or Prince Philip, sparking a flurry of speculation about who it could be.
Harry also revealed the stresses the couple endured had ruptured relations with his father, Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, and his brother, Prince William, illuminating the depth of the family divisions that led the couple to step away from royal duties and move to California last year.
So far there has been silence from the palace about the interview.
“I think that one of the major worries is you don’t want to throw oil on the flames to make it even worse,” Levin said.