The Latest: Indians not shocked by royal racism allegations
LONDON (AP) — The latest on Oprah Winfrey's interview with Meghan and Harry, their first since stepping away from royal life. Others questioned India’s membership of the Commonwealth, saying the grouping has lost its meaning over the years.
NEW DELHI — Many people in India, a former British colony, are voicing disappointment about allegations of racism in the royal family and the pressures that led Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, to contemplate suicide.
After Oprah Winfrey’s explosive interview with Prince Harry and Meghan, some people said the racism that the couple alleged was was something they expected.
“Some of these standards to me have been publicly known,” said Madhav Malhotra, 24, a research consultant in New Delhi. “So when Harry went and married someone who was (of) mixed race, I felt that these issues were likely to come up.”
The wide-ranging interview with Oprah Winfrey did not air in India. But local newspapers and TV channels carried headlines from the interview.
Meenakshi Singh, a fashion writer, said the allegations demonstrate that all is not well within the royal family and showed how “behind that whole elegant facade are thoughts that are not so elegant.”
“So, definitely the reputation has suffered,” said Singh.
Others questioned India’s membership of the Commonwealth, saying the grouping has lost its meaning over the years.
"The Commonwealth is relevant to the royal family, of course, because it shows that they had ruled so many places,” said Sunaina Phul, 28, a lawyer. But "I don’t know why are we still a part of it.”
India became a member of the Commonwealth in 1947 after gaining independence from British rule. Until then King George VI was the Emperor of India. For the next three years, he continued as the King of India, an independent dominion in the Commonwealth. But the ceremonial portfolio ceased to exist in 1950 when India declared itself a republic and adopted its own constitution.
India is still part of the Commonwealth, but it does not have Queen Elizabeth II as its constitutional head of state, unlike some other countries from the grouping. She last visited India in 1997.
LONDON — Prince Charles did not speak about Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah Winfrey during a visit to a vaccine clinic in London on Tuesday.
Harry’s father visited a church to see a temporary vaccine clinic in action and met with healthcare workers, church staff and people due to receive their shots. The visit was his first public appearance since the interview aired on Sunday, and came amid increasing pressure on Buckingham Palace to respond to the allegations made in the interview.
Maziya Marzook, a patient who was at the event, said “private matters didn’t come up at all” during Charles’ visit.
“He didn’t bring up anything, he was more interested in how the vaccine was and how we feel,” she said.
Charles, the heir apparent to the throne, was criticized by Harry who said in the interview that he felt “really let down” by his father and “there’s a lot of hurt that’s happened.” Harry said Charles stopped returning his calls when he was trying to discuss stepping down as a working royal.
LONDON — Thomas Markle, father of the Duchess of Sussex, said the interview Meghan and Prince Harry gave to Oprah Winfrey was the first time he’s heard his daughter’s voice since the breakdown of their relationship.
Markle, who lives in Mexico, told ITV’s Good Morning Britain that the last time he was in contact with Meghan was during the controversy over staged photographs that created tensions between the two before her 2018 wedding to Harry.
“This is actually the first time I’ve heard her speak in four years,” Markle said. “The last time we spoke, we texted each other.”
Markle said he regrets his estrangement from his daughter, and the reason he continues to give interviews to the press is that he’s trying to get her attention and re-establish contact.
“When they talk to me, I’ll stop talking to the press,” said Markle, whose interviews have fueled the tensions with Meghan.
Markle also said he has “great respect” for Britain’s royal family and he didn’t think they were racist. One of the most damaging moments of Harry and Meghan’s interview came when they said members of the royal family had expressed concerns about the color of their unborn son’s skin.
“The thing about what color will the baby be, I’m guessing and hoping it’s just a dumb question from someone. It could be that simple, someone asked a stupid question rather than being a total racist,” Markle said.
LONDON — Explosive allegations by Meghan, Duchess of Sussex that she faced racist attitudes from both the palace and the U.K. press came as no surprise to many Black Britons.
Whether it’s the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on people of color or the lack of non-white faces at the top of media and politics, ethnic minorities in the U.K. say racist attitudes and structures of discrimination are pervasive — and all too often denied by society at large.
“This is a country that doesn’t want to have an honest conversation about race,” said historian David Olusoga, who presented the TV series “Black and British: A Forgotten History.”
In a TV interview with Oprah Winfrey, the former Meghan Markle said isolation and a lack of support from the royal household after her marriage to Prince Harry drove her to thoughts of suicide. She also said an unnamed member of the royal family expressed “concerns” to Harry about the color of her unborn child’s skin.
Tiwa Adebayo, a communications consultant and journalist, said the couple’s revelations in the interview bore out her worst fears.
“When Meghan joined the royal family, every person of color in the U.K. was worried,” she said. “This is an institution that is rooted in colonialism. It’s based on white supremacy. I mean, for me, it kind of seemed like ‘How could this possibly end well?’"
SYDNEY — Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the television interview with Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, bolstered his argument for Australia severing its constitutional ties to the British monarchy.
Turnbull met the couple in April 2018 four months before he was replaced by the current Prime Minister Scott Morrison in an internal power struggle.
“It’s clearly an unhappy family or at least Meghan and Harry are unhappy. It seems very sad,” Turnbull told Australian Broadcasting Corp.
“After the end of the queen’s reign, that is the time for us to say: OK, we’ve passed that watershed. Do we really want to have whoever happens to be the head of state of -- the king or queen of the U.K., automatically our head of state?” Turnbull added.
Britain’s monarch is Australia’s head of state.
Turnbull was a leading advocate for Australia selecting an Australian citizen as its head of state when he was chairman of the Australian Republican Movement from 1993 to 2000.
A referendum on Australia becoming a republic was defeated in 1999, despite opinion polls showing that most Australians believed that their country should have an Australian head of state.
Many advocates of an Australian republic want a U.S. system where the president is popularly elected rather than serving in a figure-head role as proposed in 1999.
Morrison was not questioned about the royal interview during a press conference on Tuesday.
LOS ANGELES — Oprah Winfrey's explosive interview with Prince Harry and Meghan reached an estimated 17.1 million viewers in the United States on Sunday.
That's according to preliminary numbers from the Nielsen company. Winfrey guided the two as they discussed racism and dysfunction inside the royal family in a two-hour special on CBS.
Nielsen said it had the largest audience for any prime-time entertainment special so far this television season.
In the interview, Meghan said she considered suicide, while Harry said he and his family were “trapped” in an oppressive institution.
WASHINGTON — The White House is emphasizing America’s “special partnership” with the U.K. government in the wake of the bombshell interview in which Prince Harry and Meghan alleged racism and widespread misconduct within the royal family.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked Monday if, given their relationship with Harry and Meghan, President Joe Biden and his wife Jill had any reaction to the interview. She said that Meghan’s decision to speak about her struggles with mental health “takes courage” and said “that’s certainly something the president believes in.” But she said she wouldn’t offer additional comment on the situation “given these are private citizens, sharing their own story and their own struggles.”
Psaki added that the U.S. has “a strong and abiding relationship with the British people and a special partnership with the government of the United Kingdom on a range of issues, and that will continue.”
LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is refusing to comment on the explosive allegations of racism and dysfunction inside the royal family made by Prince Harry and Meghan in a television interview.
Asked about the interview at a coronavirus news conference, Johnson said he had “always had the highest admiration for the queen and the unifying role that she plays in our country and across the Commonwealth.”
But he said “when it comes to matters to do with the royal family the right thing for a prime minister to say is nothing.”
In contrast, Keir Starmer, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, says the palace has to take the allegations seriously.
“The issues that Meghan has raised of racism and mental health are really serious issues,” he said. “It is a reminder that too many people experience racism in 21st-century Britain.”
LOS ANGELES — Oprah Winfrey has revealed that while Harry would not say who in the royal family made comments about his son’s skin color, he did share who hadn’t.
Appearing Monday on “CBS This Morning,” Winfrey said Harry told her neither his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, nor his grandfather, Prince Philip, were part of conversations about Archie’s skin tone.
“He did not share the identity with me, but he wanted to make sure I knew and if I had the opportunity to share it that it was not his grandmother nor his grandfather,” Winfrey said.
In her bombshell interview which aired Sunday, Meghan described that when she was first pregnant with son Archie, there were “concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born.”
The Duchess of Sussex declined to say who had this conversation with Harry that he relayed to her, saying revealing their name would be “very damaging.”
LOS ANGELES — Tennis star Serena Williams says she's “proud” of Meghan Markle following her interview with Oprah Winfrey.
Williams called Meghan “my selfless friend” in an Instagram post after the sit-down aired Sunday night in the U.S. praising the Duchess of Sussex as “brave.”
“I know it is never easy,” Williams said in the caption. “You are strong- both you and Harry.”
Meghan revealed in the interview that she experienced suicidal thoughts after joining the royal family. She also said there were concerns within the palace while she was pregnant with son Archie about how dark his skin might be.
Williams said Meghan's words “illustrate the pain and cruelty” Meghan has experienced.
“I know first hand the sexism and racism institutions and the media use to vilify women and people of color to minimize us, to break us down and demonize us,” Williams wrote. “The mental health consequences of systemic oppression and victimization are devastating, isolating and all too often lethal.”
Williams said she wants her daughter, Meghan's daughter and “your daughter,” referring to readers, “to live in a society that is driven by respect.”
AUCKLAND, New Zealand — New Zealand's prime minister says the country is unlikely to become a republic anytime soon or otherwise break from observing Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II as head of state.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was asked by a reporter whether the unflattering picture of the British royal family painted by Harry and Meghan had given her pause about New Zealand’s constitutional ties to Britain.
“I’ve said before that I’ve not sensed an appetite from New Zealanders for significant change in our constitutional arrangements, and I don’t expect that’s likely to change quickly,” she said.
Asked whether Harry and Meghan had ever inquired about living in New Zealand, Ardern said they hadn’t in any official capacity, as far as she was aware.
And asked about her personal friendship with Meghan since the couple toured the country in 2018, Ardern said she had kept in touch.
“But ultimately, the matters that are being canvassed here I see as for Meghan and Harry to respond to directly. These are matters about their personal lives and their personal decisions, and I don’t think it deserves a commentary from anyone else,” she said.
LOS ANGELES — Prince Harry says he was “trapped” in the royal family before Meghan helped free him.
Oprah Winfrey asked Harry in their interview airing Sunday night whether he would have stepped down from his royal duties if he had never met Meghan.
“I wouldn’t have been able to,” the Duke of Sussex replied, “because I myself was trapped as well” until “the moment that I met Meg.”
Meghan said allegations that the couple’s departure was due to her scheming made no sense.
“I left my career, my life. I left everything because I love him,” she said. “Our plan was to do this forever.”
Harry said “we did everything we did to make it work” and would never have left had the palace been supportive of Meghan.
Harry also said his family cut him off financially in early 2020 after they announced they were eschewing their duties, and that they were only able to depart because of the money left him by his mother, the late Princess Diana.
Harry says Diana would have been “very angry at how this has played out, and sad. But ultimately, all she’d ever want is for us to be happy.”
LOS ANGELES — Meghan Markle told Oprah Winfrey that she had suicidal thoughts after marrying Prince Harry, and the palace prevented her from getting help.
Meghan told Winfrey in the interview airing Sunday night that she “just didn’t see a solution” to the mental suffering she had experienced since joining the royal family and that she told Harry she “didn’t want to be alive anymore.”
She said she went to a senior royal staffer and said she needed to get help for her mental health, but was told it would be bad for the family if she did.
She described the moment as a breaking point leading to her and Harry stepping aside from their royal duties.
Meghan said she “wasn't planning to say anything shocking" during the interview, “I'm just telling you what happened.”
LOS ANGELES — Meghan Markle told Oprah Winfrey that she realized soon after marrying Prince Harry that she learned that the institution of the royal family would not protect her.
In their pre-taped interview on Sunday night, Meghan told Winfrey that “not only was I not being protected, but they were willing to lie to protect other members of the family, but they weren’t willing to tell the truth to protect me and my husband.” She did not give specific examples.
She said when she was first pregnant with son Archie, there were “concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born.” The statement led Winfrey to ask “What,” incredulously and sit in silence for a moment.
Meghan declined to say who had this conversation with Harry that he relayed to her, saying revealing their name would be “very damaging.”
Meghan also said she was stunned when she was told he would not be a prince and would not receive security from the palace.
Meghan said she did not worry about being a divorced, mixed-race American actress entering the British royal family, but later she “thought about it because they made me think about it.”
Meghan said it was not so much the royal family members themselves who treated her this way, but the people behind the institution.
She emphasized that the queen herself “has always been wonderful to me.”