Today’s big question

What next for Royal Family after ‘racism’ allegations by Sussexes?

Explosive claims about royal concern over the colour of Archie’s skin are set to rock ‘The Firm’

The Royal Family is facing an unprecedented PR disaster as racism allegations made by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle threaten to tarnish the Crown’s reputation across the world.

In an interview with Oprah Winfrey that aired in the US last night, the couple claimed that a member of the family raised “concerns” about “how dark” the colour of their son Archie’s skin would be when he was born

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex declined to name the family member. But the allegations of racism within “The Firm” are dominating headlines and reportedly sent shockwaves through Buckingham Palace.

Palace turmoil

As well as airing the conversation about the colour of Archie’s skin, the couple also said they had concerns about the security of their child after learning he would not be given a title at birth. Complex rules governing how titles are given mean that conventionally Archie would become a prince only once Prince Charles becomes king. But Markle suggested that would leave her son unsafe. 

The US-born duchess said she was upset at “the idea of our son not being safe, and also the idea of the first member of colour in this family not being titled in the same way that other grandchildren would be”, adding: “It’s not their right to take it away.”

She also revealed that she was left feeling suicidal after her 2018 marriage to Prince Harry, telling Winfrey: “I did not want to be alive any more.”

A turning point in her relationship with “The Firm” came after Buckingham Palace did nothing to quash rumours that she had made the Duchess of Cambridge cry at a fitting for bridesmaids’ dresses, Markle said. 

The truth, she claims, was the opposite. “The narrative about making Kate cry I think was the beginning of a real character assassination, and they knew it wasn’t true,” she said.

‘Never complain, never explain’

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have put forward a “new narrative” with the interview, The Times says, adding that “whatever the Royal Family was expecting from this interview, this was worse”.

“The picture that emerged was of a couple who were vulnerable, who felt trapped in their roles and who regarded themselves as unprotected by the institution,” the paper adds.

The Telegraph concurs, adding that “hiding behind the sofa” during the interview would not be enough to protect the royals. Instead, the paper says they will need a “bulletproof vest” to get through what was surely a “worst-case scenario” for them all.

Markle’s “tearful admission” that she considered suicide “managed to hammer the penultimate nail in the coffin of the Royals’ already well-honed reputation for mismanging family matters”, the paper continues. And her evocation of the loss of Princess Diana will also not be lost on viewers.

Only the Queen escaped a direct attack, with Markle speaking fondly of their time together, including an anecdote describing how she and the Queen would share a blanket as they travelled to engagements together. 

The Queen has tried to emphasise that the couple are still “much-loved members of the family”, despite stepping down from their duties, says the BBC. But the picture that the Sussexes drew of the family was far from an affectionate one, adds BBC’s royal correspondent Jonny Dymond. Rather, they described “unfeeling individuals lost in an uncaring institution”.

The Royal Family’s mantra of “never complain, never explain” looks likely to be adhered to, and the Queen, as well as other senior members of the family, have reportedly chosen to ignore the interview. Royal aides told The Telegraph: “We are trying to maintain a dignified silence. It’s a media circus and we do not want to be drawn into it.”

But more could be lost than simply the personal reputations of individual members of the Royal Family, says Clare Foges in The Times

“The Queen has spent decades preserving the mystique that is essential to the monarchy’s power; in one two-hour interview they have lobbed a grenade through it,” she says. However, Foges adds that the couple will not emerge from the blast unscathed either.

“It does not do to get too grand in this country, even if you are a duke or duchess,” she argues. Yet “no matter the privilege of their lives, the couple seem determined not only to feel sorry for themselves but to air their grievances regularly”.

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