Behind the scenes

Taxpayers must be told ‘who’s running royal show so badly’, says biographer

Expert Robert Lacey points finger at Queen’s closest advisor for failing Sussexes

Palace officials face being named and shamed for their roles in the royal row with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, as a leading expert claims the “buck stops” with the Queen’s closest adviser.

Speaking to The Times, Robert Lacey said that “it is absolutely the British taxpayer’s right to know who is running the show so badly”.

The racism allegations made by the Sussexes during their recent interview with Oprah Winfrey represent “a major challenge” that is “not now going to go away” for the monarchy, which is “supposed to represent the values of everyone”, added Lacey, who is best known for his work as an adviser for Netflix drama The Crown.

Lacey lays much of the blame at the feet of Queen’s private secretary, Edward Young. The top adviser - who previously worked for Tory politicians Michael Portillo and William Hague - has held the royal role since 2017 and helped draft the Queen’s response to the interview.

But he has now joined his boss in the firing line for having allegedly “lacked the imagination to find a role for the duchess that she would find fulfilling and that matched her interests”, says The Times.

Lacey told the paper that “the buck stops, as it has always stopped, with the private secretary”.

The historian spoke out shortly after the Queen broke her silence on the duke and duchess’ interview with Winfrey, which aired earlier this week. In a short, 61-word statement released yesterday, the monarch said that the racism allegations were “concerning”, but added that “some recollections may vary”.

Equality campaigners have hit out at that response, arguing that the Queen “missed a crucial opportunity to publicly acknowledge and condemn racism”, The Guardian reports.

Halima Begum, chief executive of race equality think-tank the Runnymede Trust, told the paper that while “the Palace is entitled to deal with the matter privately”, the British public “hopes for leadership in tackling racial injustice in this country, particularly given the context of Black Lives Matter”.

Begum added: “We do want to see the Royal Family take a stand on the issue.”

Lacey also argues that the Palace - and especially Young - missed a trick in failing to allow Markle to act as a figurehead for equality. 

He said: “There was a wonderful and vital job for her to do, in terms of pursuing and developing her particular personal principles of female empowerment, racial diversity and social change.”

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