Prince Charles is the member of the royal family who raised questions about the likely color of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s babies’ skin, the author of a new book about the royals which addresses controversy has exclusively told The Daily Beast.
Christopher Andersen, who has been covering the royal family for 50 years, first at Time magazine and then as a senior editor running People magazine’s royals coverage in the ’70s and ’80s, also exclusively told The Daily Beast that relations between the royals are now so poor that William “isn’t returning Harry’s calls” and Charles and Harry “haven’t spoken since Prince Philip’s funeral.”
Andersen told The Daily Beast, “My sources are rock-solid and they helped me unravel the mystery of which royal Harry and Meghan were talking about when they said a member of the family had brought up the issue of how light or dark their children might turn out to be and that there were concerns about what that would mean for the monarchy.
“I was able to trace the origins of the controversy back to Charles casually asking Camilla what she thought Harry and Meghan’s children might look like—hair color, eye color, complexion. Keep in mind that at the time Charles was extremely fond of Meghan and had become friendly with Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland.”
Andersen says the remarks were the “innocent musings of a grandfather” that were “twisted over time by palace operatives into something far more racially charged and toxic, so by the time it reached Harry he was shocked at what he was hearing. When Harry complained to his father, Charles suggested that he was being oversensitive.”
As The Daily Beast reported Sunday, Andersen’s new book, Brothers And Wives: Inside The Private Lives of William, Kate, Harry and Meghan (Gallery), out Tuesday, says that on the day Harry and Meghan publicly announced their engagement, Charles asked his wife, Camilla, “I wonder what the children look like?”
A “somewhat taken-aback” Camilla apparently replied, “Well, absolutely gorgeous, I’m certain.”
Charles allegedly lowered his voice and asked, “I mean, what do you think their children’s complexion might be?”
Andersen provided The Daily Beast with an advance copy of the book Monday.
In it, he says that the conversation between Charles and Camilla happened over breakfast while “household staff members were circulating within earshot.” Camilla, Andersen says, swiftly changed the subject but the damage was done.
Andersen quotes a former member of Prince Charles’ “senior staff” as saying, “It’s not that the senior roles are racist per se. The queen certainly isn’t. But there are a few in the extended family who are, and the aristocracy as a whole is rife with racist thinking.”
The source says of the “bureaucrats” who keep the Firm running: “Most are not racist but some are, and unfortunately, at rather high levels. It’s a sad reality, but they are more of a reflection of society as a whole.”
Andersen writes that it “did not take long for Harry to be told by one of the men in grey [palace staffers] that there were ‘apprehensions' about how dark a baby of his and Meghan Markle’s might be—that if he or she was ‘too brown’ it might look ‘strange.’”
When Harry’s upset filtered back to Charles, Andersen writes, “The Prince of Wales said that his son was perhaps being ‘overly sensitive about the matter,’” according to a courtier quoted by Andersen. Andersen writes, “Soon, what might have begun as a benign question became the subject of intense conversation between Charles and Harry.”
The content of this conversation is not made clear, but Andersen writes, “The conversations concerning how dark their offspring might be continued to ripple through the royal household.”
The staffer added, “When Harry went to his brother for help, William stood up for their father. The whole thing just got out of hand.”
Intriguingly, Andersen’s account of how Charles questioned the likely skin tone of Meghan and Harry’s then-unborn children does not tally with the accounts they gave Oprah Winfrey, which themselves contained various discrepancies. Andersen essentially paints the affair as a naive (others might say prejudiced) comment by Charles that was amplified by racist staff seeking to stir up trouble.
Meghan, in her interview with Oprah, gave a very different account, saying that there was a direct conversation with Harry asking about color, saying: “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. Harry, when asked about the alleged question, 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 said, “Yeah, what will the kids look like?”
Harry then said, “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.”
Critics of the couple have jumped on the discrepancy between their accounts of when the alleged conversation took place to cast doubt on the claim. Harry later authorized Oprah to tell viewers on CBS that it was not the queen or Prince Philip who made the comments.
Harry was, however, open about the anger he felt for his father in the interview, saying, “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.”
Andersen enlarged on the account in the book in an email conversation with The Daily Beast, saying, “William insists the royal family isn’t racist, and I agree with him. But the Sussexes are also right when they say racism exists in palace circles, and among the aristocracy. These are the same people who routinely conspire to pit one prince against another to further their own interests.”
As to what the future for the family holds, Andersen said, “William isn’t returning Harry’s calls and Charles and Harry haven’t spoken since Prince Philip’s funeral. If Charles, William, and Harry can’t find a way to make amends during the queen’s platinum jubilee next year, then it’s doubtful they ever will.
“It’s also highly doubtful that a Charles III will bestow the titles of “prince” on Archie and “princess” on Lilibet, or for that matter any titles at all.”
The Daily Beast has contacted Prince Charles’ office and Harry’s office for comment. Prince Charles’ office previously dismissed the allegations by Andersen as “fiction.”
Andersen said, “This is the default response. Stonewall. Deny, deny, deny—without ever bothering to read what’s really in the book. After a half-century spent covering this family that produced six New York Times bestsellers on the Windsors, it never ceases to amaze me how little things have changed in this regard. “Britain’s royal family is still history’s longest running soap opera.
“I think Diana would have been saddened by Megxit, and heartbroken by the rift between her sons. Diana always said William and Harry were her revenge—she always wanted them both to play a central role in guiding the monarchy into the future. She certainly did not want Harry to turn his back on his birthright.”