Oprah rules out Queen and Prince Philip over Meghan skin colour claim

Duchess says a member of the British royal family expressed concern over son Archie’s skin tone

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Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip were not the royals who spoke to Prince Harry about the colour of his unborn child, Oprah Winfrey said on Monday.

The Duchess of Sussex claimed in an interview that a member of the British royal family expressed concern while the duchess was pregnant over “how dark” son Archie’s skin tone would be.

In Sunday night’s interview the couple did not reveal who made the comment, because they said it would be “too damaging” to the person involved.

Winfrey told CBS on Monday morning that after the interview, Prince Harry wanted to clarify the situation.

"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 who were a part of those conversations,” she said.

The allegation was potentially one of the most damaging from a two-hour interview in which Meghan Markle also said she was denied help during a mental health crisis, speaking frankly about her suicidal thoughts while pregnant with Archie.

Ms Markle and Prince Harry have long accused the British press of racism in their hostile treatment of her.

But it is the first time the couple used the word for a member of the royal household.

The duchess appeared to suggest her son Archie was denied the title of prince because of his mixed race.

She spoke of her shock at being told he would not be given police protection because he did not have a title.

“It’s not their right to take away,” Ms Markle said.

Winfrey then asked: “Do you think it’s because of his race?”

She replied: “In those months when I was pregnant, all around this same time, so we [had] 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 television journalist holds up two British newspapers as he speaks to camera outside Buckingham Palace in London, Monday, March 8, 2021. Britain's royal family is absorbing the tremors from a sensational television interview by Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex, in which the couple said they encountered racist attitudes and a lack of support that drove Meghan to thoughts of suicide. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Under protocols established by King George V in 1917, only the children and grandchildren of the monarch have the automatic right to the title HRH and prince or princess.

Prince George is exempt from the rule because he is the son of future monarch Prince William.

The queen also stepped in to ensure Prince William’s other children had titles of prince and princess.

At the time of his birth, Archie was a great-grandson and not the child of a future monarch.

He will only gain the title when Prince Charles accedes the throne.

When Archie was born, he was named Master Archie Mountbatten-Windsor.

At the time, it was suggested this was because the duke and duchess wanted him to have a normal life, but Ms Markle said this was not the case.

“It was not our decision to make,” she said.

Harry and Meghan's bombshell interview – key takeaways

Harry 'shocked' over skin colour question

Prince Harry said he was "never going to share" which family member asked him about the colour of his unborn child's skin.

"But at the time it was awkward. I was a bit shocked," he 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's not enough money to pay for her, and all this sort of stuff.

"There were some real obvious signs before we even got married that this was going to be really hard."

The duchess also declined to name who expressed those concerns.

"I think that would be very damaging to them," she said. "That was relayed to me from Harry. Those were conversations that family had with him."

Asked if there were concerns that her child would be “too brown” and that would be a problem, she told Winfrey: “If that is the assumption you are making, that is a pretty safe one.”

Meghan suffered suicidal thoughts

The duchess described a toxic environment that took an enormous toll on her mental health, saying that she came close to suicide while pregnant with her first child.

“I just didn’t want to be alive any more,” she said. “And that was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought.”

She said Buckingham Palace’s refusal to rebuff false claims that fuelled negative press against her worsened her depression.

Ms Markle tearfully recalled how she found the situation “unsurvivable” and said Prince Harry cradled her after she told him the extent of her deteriorating mental health.

Prince Harry said his wife's mixed-race heritage fuelled much of the negative press.

Despite the toll on her mental health, the duchess claimed Buckingham Palace refused to let her seek medical treatment.

“I went to human resources and I said I really need help because at my old job there was a union and they would protect me,” Ms Markle said.

“They said: 'My heart goes out to you and I see how bad it is, but there’s nothing we can do to protect you because you’re not a paid employee of the institution.'

“This wasn’t a choice. This was me begging for help and saying I’m concerned for my mental welfare.”

Kate crying story was untrue

It was sensational tabloid fodder: the story of how Ms Markle made Kate Middleton cry after a bridesmaid dress fitting for Princess Charlotte.

And by Meghan's account, it was entirely fabricated.

"Everyone in the institution knew it wasn't true," the duchess told Winfrey.

She said that, in reality, "the reverse happened".

Ms Markle said Kate "was upset about something, but she owned it and she apologised".

"A few days before the wedding, she was upset about something pertaining – yes, the issue was correct – about flower girl dresses and it made me cry, and it really hurt my feelings."

She called the incident "a turning point" in her relations with the royal family.

"The narrative about, you know, making Kate cry I think was the beginning of a real character assassination," she said.

"And they knew it wasn't true. And I thought well, if they're not going to kill things like that, then what are we going to do?

"I came to understand that not only was I not being protected but that they were willing to lie to protect other members of the family."

Harry feels 'let down' by Prince Charles

Speaking candidly about his relationship with Prince Charles, Prince Harry said he felt "really let down" by his father throughout the painful episode, but that they were now talking to one another.

"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," he said.

“I will always love him but there’s a lot of hurt that’s happened.

“My family literally cut me off financially. But I’ve got what my mum left me and without that we would not have been able to do this.”

He said his father and older brother Prince William were trapped by the conventions of the monarchy.

"My father and my brother, they are trapped. They don't get to leave. And I have huge compassion for that," Prince Harry said.

"Much will continue to be said about that ... as I said before, you know, I love William to bits, he's my brother, we've been through hell together and we have a shared experience. But we're on different paths."

He said he and Ms Markle "did everything we could" to stay in the royal family.

"I'm sad that what's happened has happened but I know, and I'm comfortable in knowing, that we did everything that we could to make it work."

Harry denies disrespecting the queen

Asked whether he had told his family about his plans to step away from his royal roles, about the newspaper story and whether they"blindsided" the queen with their decision, Prince Harry said: "I've never blindsided my grandmother, I have too much respect for her."

Asked where the story came from, he said: "I'd hazard a guess that it probably could have come from within the institution.

"I had three conversations with my grandmother and two conversations with my father before he stopped taking my calls. And then he said: 'Can you put this all in writing?'"

"By that point I took matters into my own hands, it was like, I needed to do this for my family.

"This is not a surprise to anybody. It's really sad that it's got to this point but I've got to do something for my own mental health, my wife's, and for Archie's as well."

Harry says his mum would want him to be happy

Asked what his late mother would think about his split from the royal family in January 2020, Prince Harry replied: “She would feel very angry with how this has panned out and very sad. But, ultimately, all she’d have ever wanted is for us to be happy.”

He compared the behaviour of the media to that faced by Princess Diana before her death in a Paris car crash in 1997.

"My biggest concern was history repeating itself, and I've said that before on numerous occasions, very publicly," he said.

"What I was seeing was history repeating itself, but more, perhaps more, definitely far more dangerous because then you add race in, and you add social media and when I'm talking about history repeating itself, I'm talking about my mother."