(DAILY MAIL) – Buckingham Palace was paralysed with ‘horror and dismay’ last night as Prince Harry stood accused of ‘blowing up his family’ with his bombshell interview.
The Queen, Prince Charles and Prince William were all locked in crisis talks over how to react to a string of incendiary accusations unleashed by Harry and wife Meghan during a two-hour special with Oprah Winfrey on American TV.
With pressure growing for a statement today, Palace insiders described a mood of ‘intense personal shock and sadness’ that the prince had pressed the ‘nuclear button on his own family’. ‘People are just reeling,’ a source said.
The couple’s interview on CBS late on Sunday night sent shock waves around the world yesterday as the couple laid bare the extent of their rift with the Queen and other senior royals.
They accused an unnamed Royal Family member of racism, suggesting the relative had asked ‘how dark’ their baby would be; said they had been driven out of Britain, in part, by racism; and accused the Palace machinery of failing to support a ‘suicidal’ Meghan.
Harry revealed an astonishing rift with his father, saying his family had cut him off financially while suggesting the Queen had been badly advised and had cancelled a meeting scheduled at Sandringham.
Meghan also accused her sister-in-law Kate of making her cry; suggested senior royals plotted to ensure Archie would never have a title or adequate security; and said officials had failed to stand up for the couple against ‘racist’ commentary, while lying to protect other royals.
A senior Government minister and Boris Johnson ally, Lord [Zac] Goldsmith, echoed the mood of many in royal circles yesterday. Responding to the suggestion that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex had ‘loaded up a plane and dropped bomb after heavy bomb on Buckingham Palace’, he tweeted: ‘Not “Buckingham Palace” – Harry’s family. Harry is blowing up his family.’
As senior officials tried to work out how to respond:
- Miss Winfrey said Harry had made clear to her that the unnamed family member who raised ‘concerns’ about his son’s skin colour was not the Queen or the Duke of Edinburgh;
- New clips from the interview included Harry alleging that the Queen had reneged on a promise to allow him to visit her Sandringham home to discuss his plans, leaving him devastated;
- Doubts emerged over Meghan’s claim that the couple had been ‘married’ secretly three days before their multi-million pound Windsor Castle wedding;
- Boris Johnson refused to comment on allegations of racism against the Royal Family, but said he had the ‘highest admiration for the Queen’;
- Hillary Clinton accused the British media of ‘outrageous cruelty’ toward Meghan, while the White House praised the Duchess of Sussex’s ‘courage’;
- Meghan’s father, Thomas Markle, was preparing to appear on British television today to address his criticism of her;
- Another clip showed Harry suggesting his brother William could not ever leave the royal ‘system’ and ‘control’ by the tabloid press
Buckingham Palace, which was not informed about the couple’s decision to do the interview before it was first announced last month, had been bracing itself for the worst. But aides could not have predicted how devastatingly brutal the couple’s interview – watched by 17million in the US alone but set to air last night to a global audience of many times more, including on ITV in the UK – would be.
The Mail has been told that royal staff stayed up until 3am to watch the interview via video link live from the US with a mounting sense of horror – and sadness.
As morning broke, crisis meetings were called involving senior officials as well as senior royals, in person and on the phone, as well via video call.
The Queen, at Windsor, spoke with her son Charles, who was at Clarence House, his London home, and grandson William, who has also moved back to the capital from Norfolk in preparation for his children to return to school.
Sources told the Mail that household staff, many of whom had supported the couple as best they could during an ‘extremely difficult and trying three years’, felt ‘angry and let down’ but were determined to put a brave face on the situation for the sake of the elderly monarch.
‘Staff are reeling. But there is [also] a strong sense of needing to retain a dignified silence and show kindness and compassion. There’s a lot people want to say but no one wins with a tit-for-tat battle,’ said one. ‘Bridges need to be built after all this is over, after all.’
Most damaging are the couple’s claims that not only were they unsupported by both family members and staff, but they also suffered as a result of an apparent racist agenda against them.
Meghan suggested that race was the heart of every decision made against them. But there was bemusement among royal insiders at her claims that senior royals had tried to prevent their son, Archie, from having a title – or security – because of blatant prejudice.
‘They didn’t want him to be a prince,’ she told Miss Winfrey.
Long-standing rules, laid down by George V, mean that the title of HRH passes only to the children of a sovereign and their grandchildren through the male line, meaning Archie will only be given a title when his grandfather, Prince Charles, accedes to the throne.
The Queen can issue letters patent to change that on an individual basis but aides for Harry and Meghan briefed journalists at the time of his birth that they were very happy for him to be styled ‘Master Archie’ because they wanted him to have the same kind of freedoms as the prince’s cousins, Zara and Peter Phillips.