Perhaps the most extraordinary moment of last night’s interview with Harry and Meghan came when Meghan said that Harry was asked by a member of the royal family how dark their children’s skin was likely to be, and questioned what image of the family that would project.
Harry, when he joined the interview, reiterated the claim. It was notable that Harry and Meghan gave differing accounts of when the racist conversation took place: Meghan said it was during a series of conversations that happened while she was pregnant with Archie, Harry said it happened “right at the beginning” of their relationship.
Both refused to identify the individual concerned, but they were clear it was a member of the family as opposed to a palace courtier.
Meghan raised the issue when she was discussing what she alleged was a discriminatory drive by the palace at the time to not make her unborn son Archie a prince.
Meghan said, “In those months when I was pregnant, all around this same time—so we have in tandem the conversation of ‘He won’t be given security, he’s not going to be given a title,'—and also concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born.”
A stunned Oprah sought clarification and Meghan replied, “There were, there were several conversations about it,” which took place “with Harry” who relayed the content of them to her.
Saying she would not identify the person in question, Meghan said, “I think that would be very damaging to them,” but added, “That was relayed to me from Harry. Those were conversations that family had with him.”
Harry said it was a “conversation I’m never going to share,” but when Oprah suggested he was asked, “Like, what will the baby look like?” he conceded that he was indeed asked that: “Yeah, what will the kids look like?”
Harry did not pin the conversation on his family, but did mention them in his next breath, saying: “That was right at the beginning, when she wasn’t going to get security, when members of my family were suggesting that she carries on acting, because there was not enough money to pay for her, and all this sort of stuff.”
Given his previous history of racist comments, suspicion immediately alighted upon Prince Philip, Harry’s 99-year-old grandfather who is recovering from heart surgery in the hospital, as the author of the racist questions.
Aware, perhaps, that Philip would be the natural target of suspicion, Harry authorized Oprah to make a stunning declaration on CBS this morning: “He did not share the identity with me but he wanted to make sure that I knew and if I had an opportunity to share it, that it was not his grandmother nor his grandfather that were a part of those conversations.”
By Monday afternoon, the palace had still not issued any kind of response to any of the myriad allegations made by Meghan, including the one that a member of the royal family expressed “concerns” about her children’s skin color. The palace did not respond to specific inquiries for this story, nor did the Sussexes’ press team.
Harry and Meghan must have known the allegation would cause tremendous disquiet, and inevitably set off a guessing game as to who could possibly have made the comment.
Of course, there are only a small number of people who could possibly be in the frame. Realistically the only members of the royal family who could have been involved in the ancillary conversations that surrounded the specific conversation are members of the royal family more senior than Harry.
It’s simply not conceivable that minor royals such as Prince Andrew or Prince Edward would have been involved in discussions about the status and future police protection of Harry’s children.
By exonerating Philip, Harry seems to have pointed the finger at one of two people: Prince William or Prince Charles.
But Harry had warm words for his brother despite their current difficulties, saying, “As I’ve said before, I love William to bits. He’s my brother. We’ve been through hell together.”
This doesn’t sound like the kind of thing you’d say about someone who had expressed “concerns” about your child’s skin color.
His relationship with Charles, however, seems to be in a much more parlous state.
Talking about the run-up to their public announcement they were “stepping back” from frontline royal duties, Harry said, “I had three conversations with my grandmother and two conversations with my father—before he stopped taking my calls.”
Oprah at the end of the broadcast asked Harry, “Your relationship with your father? Is he taking your calls now?”
Harry replied, “Yeah. Yeah, he is. There’s a lot to work through there, you know? I feel really let down, because he’s been through something similar. He knows what pain feels like, and this is—and Archie’s his grandson. But, at the same time, you know, of course I will always, I will always love him, but there’s a lot of hurt that’s happened. And I will continue to, to make it one of my priorities to try and heal that relationship. But they only know what they know, and that’s the thing… I’ve tried to educate them through the process that I have been educated.”
Charles’ supporters were quick to defend him today. His official biographer Jonathan Dimbleby told the BBC that he found the notion that Prince Charles could have raised concerns about the skin color of the Sussexes’ baby “quite astonishing,” saying, “He is someone whose personal and professional life has been dedicated to bringing people together not pulling them apart. I find it extraordinarily difficult to believe that it might have been him.”
And so, for now at least, the hunt for the alleged royal racist continues.