After nearly two days of silence following Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s revealing interview with Oprah Winfrey, Buckingham Palace issued a brief statement on Tuesday that, as had been reported, seemed intended to “de-escalate tensions by highlighting the family’s love and concern for the couple.” The statement, released just after close of business in the U.K., acknowledged that issues of race were discussed in the interview:
The short statement echoes the words the Queen used to respond to Harry and Meghan’s initial announcement that they would step down as senior royals in January 2020; Her Majesty wrote at the time, “Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family.”
The royal family had been in crisis talks throughout Monday, but even before then palace aides began to speak anonymously about what was going on behind the scenes. Some told the Times that they resented Meghan’s comments that she was left unprepared and subjected to comments about Archie Mountbatten-Windsor’s skin tone. “Everyone bent over backwards to accommodate her,” one former aide said. “Now they feel they’re being totally shafted and collectively made to look like racists.”
Others seemed to recognize the value of staying out of it. “Staff are reeling. But there is [also] a strong sense of needing to retain a dignified silence and show kindness and compassion. There’s a lot people want to say but no one wins with a tit-for-tat battle,” one aide told the Daily Mail. “Bridges need to be built after all this is over, after all.”
Another source told the Times that palace insiders had already begun to inquire about removing the couple’s titles, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. “There were talks at the palace looking at how you strip him of his dukedom,” the source said. “It has never been done before but there are people who think it is both feasible and desirable.”
A “well-placed source” attempted to explain Charles’s point of view after Harry claimed that his father stopped taking his calls and cut him off financially. “He plowed a lot into the wedding and the refurbishment of Frogmore Cottage and did his utmost to make them feel financially supported but when they said they were upping sticks, they asked for even more,” the source told the Telegraph. “If he was less inclined to take calls, it might be because he didn’t want to be treated like a cash dispenser. I think a lot of parents will be able to identify with that.”
Yet a former royal aide told the newspaper that the intervention of courtiers might explain some of the issues that Harry and Meghan raise in the interview. “Private family matters used to be completely sacrosanct but in recent years the lines have become blurred,” the source said. “Private secretaries have been overstepping the mark when it comes to trying to manage the royals’ relationships with each other.”
Other staffers have been focusing on the specifics of life at the palace while Meghan and Harry were there. In an extensive report at the Times, former aides dissected Meghan’s early years with Harry, claiming that he was “rude” and “petty” and she was “unkind.” One source claimed that Meghan once raged at her aide because the blankets she ordered to commemorate a shooting party at Sandringham were the wrong shade of red.
But the most stinging comment might have come from what the Times called a “senior royal source” speculating on why Meghan never fit in at the family in the first place. “Why is Meghan the way she is? A very weird childhood is definitely part of it,” the source said. “She raised herself for much of it, living with her father for a long time and looking after him. The almost-no-family-at-the-wedding was quite a telltale sign. She’s really smart, if she could have seen the use of that inside the institution. She wanted to be ‘A’ list—the royal family is beyond ‘A’ list—but she wanted it the Beyoncé way, without restrictions. She was never up for royal life. Right from the start, she courted rejection.”
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