Harry and Meghan’s allegations of ill treatment by the royal household are so serious that observers say Buckingham Palace’s silence has only added to the furor surrounding their TV interview with Oprah Winfrey
LONDON — 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.
“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.
During the two-hour interview, Meghan described feeling so isolated and miserable inside the royal family that she had suicidal thoughts, yet when she asked for mental health help from the palace’s human resources staff she was told she was not a paid employee. She also said a member of the royal family had expressed “concerns” to Harry about the color of her unborn child’s skin.
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.
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.
Alastair Campbell, who advised the royal family how to respond to Princess Diana’s 1997 death in a car accident, suggested that Buckingham Palace should maintain that silence. Campbell, who also served as Prime Minister Tony Blair’s communications advisor, told the BBC that Diana’s death and the interview with Winfrey were very different situations.
“The death of Diana was a huge event — and following which they were all going to have to be involved in the funeral and in the response to what was happening in the country as a result of her death,” he said. “Whereas this, I think, is a pretty extraordinary and a pretty explosive media frenzy, but that ultimately is what it is.”
“So I’m not sure I would advise them to do anything much beyond what they are doing — which is not very much,” he added.
Charles didn’t comment on the interview Tuesday during a visit to a vaccine clinic in London.
Harry’s father visited a church to see a temporary vaccine clinic in action and met with health care workers, church staff and people due to receive their vaccine jab. The visit was his first public appearance since the interview aired in the U.S. on Sunday night.
Maziya Marzook, a patient at the event, said “private matters didn’t come up at all” during Charles’ visit.
“He didn’t bring up anything,” Marzook said. “He was more interested in how the vaccine was and how we feel.”
Sylvia Hui contributed.