LONDON — Hours after an interview with Prince Harry and his wife Meghan was broadcast in the United States on Sunday, Britain was already grappling with the shock wave rippling out across the Atlantic, exposing a deep royal rift.
In the two-hour prime time interview with Oprah Winfrey — to be shown in Britain Monday night — Meghan and Harry spoke frankly about what drove them away from Britain last year, taking a sharp turn from the default silence of the royal family. They spoke of comments by one family member about the potential color of their son’s skin, racist coverage from the tabloid press and a general lack of support that Meghan said drove her to thoughts of suicide.
For many Black Britons, the interview offered a scathing assessment of the royal family and resurfaced barely submerged tensions over entrenched racism in the country at large.
“It’s very hard listening to the interview not to focus on some of the salacious details and the family drama,” said Marcus Ryder, a visiting professor of media diversity at Birmingham City University. “But what we’re talking about is a major part of the British state, it’s a major institution.”
a leak to The Times of London last week.
For others, the interview was a moment to reflect on the decidedly different public persona of Harry and Meghan as they broke with the dutiful silence expected of the royal family and brought a more American approach.
some noted, the tabloids would criticize her for doing almost the same things that earned Kate lavish compliments.
Not that Kate escaped criticism entirely. While her parents are highly successful professionals, the tabloids made much of the fact that her mother began her career as a flight attendant and is more likely to trace her lineage to a coal miner than an aristocrat.
Yet what cut particularly deeply, Meghan said, was the lack of support from other family members. And when she went in search of help for her increasingly desperate mental state, the palace’s human resources department said its hands were tied because she was not a staff member. She was further told, she said, that she could not go to a psychiatric facility because that would reflect poorly on the family.
Black Britons had been calling out the problematic portrayals of Meghan in the British press for years. Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, a lawyer and activist, has frequently spoken out about the racism directed at Meghan. In a heated back-and-forth on “Good Morning Britain,” she took Piers Morgan, the presenter and a staunch critic of Meghan and Harry, to task.
He asked for a reaction to what he called the couple “spray-gunning his family on global television” while Prince Philip, Harry’s grandfather, is hospitalized with a heart ailment.
“You want to deny that the royal family has any racist undertones or actions against the first biracial person, simply because you are in love with the queen?” Dr. Mos-Shogbamimu responded, as Mr. Morgan accused her of “race baiting.”