Behind the scenes

Crisis talks at Palace amid ‘whodunnit’ race to name ‘racist royal’

Queen vetoes statement aimed at diffusing tension with Sussexes

Buckingham Palace officials are urging the Royal Family to launch a damage control defensive amid the growing fallout of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s allegations of racism, according to reports.  

The Times says that the Queen last night “refused to sign off” a statement that “officials had hoped would de-escalate tensions” in the wake of the Sussexes’ televised interview with Oprah Winfrey, by focusing on “the family’s love and concern for the couple”.

The Queen is “believed to want more time to consider her response”, the paper adds. But while the Palace mulls its options, an “epic whodunnit” race has begun to identify the “racist royal” who allegedly made remarks about the skin colour of the Sussexes’ son Archie prior to his birth, says Politico’s London Playbook.

The Queen and Prince Philip were yesterday ruled out as suspects, after US chat show veteran Winfrey told CBS This Morning that Harry had told her that the comments had not been made by either of his grandparents.

The couple blankly refused to name names during their newly televised interview, with the duchess saying that to do so could be “very damaging” for the mystery royal. Harry added that he was “never going to share” details of “that conversation”, during which the unnamed royal had expressed concerns about how dark Archie’s skin might be.

However, Politico’s Playbook reports that two senior government ministers last night voiced “fears the racism accusations would eventually be laid at a very senior member of the Royal Family” and possibly “one of those at the front of the line of succession”.

As Playbook notes, such disclosure could cause “huge damage to the monarchy for years to come”.

One of the ministers told the news site that “if they never name the person they’re accusing, there will be a cloud of suspicion over the future kings among minorities here and people across the Commonwealth”. But “if they do name them, and they’re very senior, it will be a disaster”, the government insider added.

Boris Johnson yesterday refused to be drawn into the row, telling reporters that he has “spent a long time now not commenting on Royal Family matters and I don’t intend to depart from that today”.

While the prime minister may not want to get involved, the Royals are facing mounting pressure to abandon their usual never-explain, never-complain approach and take urgent action.  

Charles Anson, a former press secretary to the Queen, told Sky News that “in today’s 24-hour news cycle there are some questions to be answered”.

“I think the Palace will be looking to try and reflect on this interview, and take some of the issues forward that don’t exacerbate things and that lead to some reconciliation,” Anson added.

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