Queen Elizabeth responds to Harry and Meghan’s Oprah interview
LONDON – Queen Elizabeth said Tuesday that in her explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey, the Royal Family will address allegations of racism at Buckingham Palace made by Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex.
The Queen’s comments were her first since that interview, when Harry and Meghan Markle also highlighted a lack of royal family support for the mental health issues and media intrusion.
“The whole family is saddened to learn how challenging the past few years have been for Harry and Meghan,” Elizabeth said in a statement released at 5:30 p.m. London time after hours of speculation about how she would react to the claims .
“The issues raised, particularly race, are worrying. Some memories may vary but are taken very seriously and treated privately by the family,” she added.
“Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be very beloved family members.”
Prior to the statement, the royal family closed a wall of silence over the interview, which aired on CBS on Sunday night and on British broadcaster ITV on Monday night.
According to British media reports, including the BBC, the palace is said to have had “crisis talks”. Senior royals reportedly had urgent discussions on how to limit the impact of the interview in which Harry and Meghan claimed to be a member of the royal family had asked what skin tone their then-unborn child might be.
Meghan, the first multiracial member of the modern British royal family, would not reveal who made the comment, saying, “It would be too harmful for her.”
The palace would not comment on the interview if contacted by CNBC on Tuesday.
During a public visit to a Covid vaccination center in London on Tuesday, Prince Charles was asked by a Sky News reporter what he thought of the interview but did not comment on it.
Winfrey later made it clear that the king who made the comment was not Queen Elizabeth II or Prince Philip.
The two-hour interview, skillfully conducted by the veteran broadcaster, was seen by 17.1 million viewers in the United States. More than 12 million viewers watched the British broadcast, as ITV announced on Tuesday.
In addition to allegations of racism, the interview contained harmful allegations that the Palace did not support Meghan when she had mental health issues that made her suicidal.
Talking about the pressures of royal life, the Sussexes also said they had been told to leave the UK and step back from their role as working royals early last year because the British tabloids were hostile to saying the palace had failed to defend them.
(LR) Queen Elizabeth II, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, watch the RAF route on the balcony of Buckingham Palace while members of the Royal Family attend events to mark the 100th anniversary of the RAF on July 10th 2018 in London, England.
Neil Mockford | GC images
Still, the couple also said the royal family welcomed Meghan when their relationship began in 2016. Meghan also said that the queen has always been “wonderful” to her.
The British press responded on Tuesday with a mixture of acknowledgment of the harmfulness of the interview and a certain degree of defensiveness.
While many newspapers pondered the “bombing” allegations that “rocked” the palace, others said the interview was selfish for the couple and disrespectful to the queen.
The Daily Mirror headline said the interview sparked “the worst royal crisis in 85 years,” while the Daily Express headlined “So sad it came” alongside a picture of the Queen. Meanwhile, the Daily Mail headlined its newspaper Tuesday morning, “What have you done?”
How harmful is it?
The interview has questioned commentators and royal correspondents about how damaging the allegations are to the royal family, an institution that has worked to uphold a public image of duty and decency and has always tried to address internal family matters, let alone cracks and Controversy, keep out of the spotlight.
After the interview aired in the US, there was widespread public support for Meghan among commentators and friends of the couple. In Britain, a country where most people hold the Queen in high esteem, if not always the broader monarchy, the response has been more mixed.
In a live YouGov poll on Tuesday, the public was asked after the interview, “with whom you mostly sympathize”. The latest results showed that 40% of those polled were more personable to the Queen and the Royal Family, and 24% to Harry and Meghan. Significantly, another 24% said “neither”.
Oprah Winfrey interviews Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
Harpo Productions | Joe Pugliese | Getty Images
Whether the revelations will spark a lasting fascination with the British royal family at home and abroad remains to be seen. However, the dispute will restart the debate about the value of the monarchy and the republican sentiment.
In Australia, part of the Commonwealth and where the Queen is still Head of State, it has already sparked discussions about whether it is time for change. Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull reportedly told ABC TV in Australia on Tuesday that “our Head of State” should be an Australian citizen, should be one of us, not the Queen or the King of the United Kingdom. “
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Monday that the country is unlikely to stop having the queen as head of state anytime soon.
There has long been a debate about the value and cost of the monarchy, which brings tourism revenue to the country but also burdens the UK taxpayer.
The royal household receives income from the so-called Crown Estate – land owned by the Queen such as Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, which are open to the public at normal times and generate income – and from the so-called Sovereign Grant.
The only grant is government-paid money that enables the queen to “perform her duties as head of state,” says the government, but it also supports the official duties of other high-ranking kings such as foreign visits, hospitality and public engagements.
In return for these public funds, however, the Queen must surrender the revenue from the Crown Estate to the government, which in turn calculates how much money the grant represents.
The government explained how the Sovereign Grant works last year: “In return for this public support, the Queen is handing over the revenue from The Crown Estate to the government, which amounted to £ 343.5 million for the 2018-19 period Sovereign Grant for 2020-21 is £ 85.9 million which is 25% of £ 343.5 million. “
The government grant for the 2018-2019 period was £ 82.2m (US $ 107.1m) compared to £ 76.1m for the 2017-2018 period, which is £ 1.24 per person in the UK. Currently the royal family costs each British (on a) total population 66.8 million) £ 1.28 a year.
That’s not much as the royal family draws visitors to the UK. The tourism agency Visit Britain reported back in 2017 that tourism linked to royal residences such as Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle has 2.7 million visitors annually. However, it is difficult to determine how many visitors are coming to the UK specifically because of the monarchy.
Royal weddings, including Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011 and the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in 2018, have also been seen as boosting UK tourism by attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors and boosting GDP. The weddings of both princes brought a boon to British tourism and the economy. Again, weddings involve extra security and expenses that ultimately fall on the taxpayer’s shoulders. Harry and Meghan’s wedding reportedly cost about $ 42.8 million, with a large portion of the budget spent on security and additional policing, while William and Kate’s wedding in 2011 cost the taxpayer £ 20 million, or about US $ 27 million -Dollars cost.
The anti-monarchy campaign group Republic denies the idea that the monarchy is a boon to British tourism, stating that there is no evidence to support such claims.