The royal family is taking “very seriously” the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s shocking allegations of racism and a lack of support despite “some recollections” among royals varying.
The Queen has taken the first step in healing divisions after Meghan and Harry’s incendiary Oprah Winfrey interview by publicly acknowledging the “challenging” period the couple experienced when working royals.
The family appear to be at odds over the version of some events described by the Sussexes, but the sympathetic tone of a Buckingham Palace statement suggests a reconciliation through dialogue in private is the aim.
The highly-anticipated palace statement – issued on behalf of the Queen – also mentioned the Sussexes and their son by their first names and not titles.
The statement said: “The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan.
“The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning. Whilst some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately.
“Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much-loved family members.”
The palace statement will be an attempt to draw a line under a series of bombshell claims made by the Sussexes that have thrown the monarchy into a crisis that threatens to damage its reputation around the world.
There was mounting criticism about the picture painted by Harry and Meghan of an uncaring and racist institution which failed to support the couple, especially as the duchess struggled with her mental health.
Plagued by suicidal thoughts, Meghan received no help from the monarchy after approaching staff – even the human resources department.
Winfrey was left open-mouthed when the couple recounted how a family member – not the Queen or Duke of Edinburgh – raised concerns about how dark their son Archie’s skin tone might be before he was born.
There were also revelations about the rift between Harry and his father the Prince of Wales, and claims the duke was financially cut off by the family just as he was about to embark on his new life with Meghan and son Archie in North America.
Charles chuckled nervously when he was asked if he had seen Meghan and Harry’s interview with Winfrey during a visit to a pop-up Covid vaccination clinic at a London church.
The Evening Standard reported a senior royal household figure as suggesting the heir to the throne felt “let down” by what the Sussexes had said.
The source added: “The prince is proud of the diversity of this country and believes the diversity of Britain’s modern society is its greatest strength.”
There has been speculation about the length of time it took Buckingham Palace to release its statement just before 5.30pm on Tuesday and more than 36 hours since the Winfrey interview was screened in America.
But the delay likely allowed for all senior members of the royal family on both sides of the Atlantic time to join discussions and the British public to watch the full programme aired in the UK on Monday night.
It is understood the response was also timed to allow for a carefully considered reaction.
The Queen and the rest of the royal family are said to consider this a family matter and believe they should be given the opportunity to raise the issues privately.
The monarch and aides from all royal households will have been in crisis summits working out how to respond to the damaging allegations.
In another development, Good Morning Britain co-host Piers Morgan has left the ITV show after an on-air row with a colleague over comments he made about Meghan.
He stormed off set – returning after 10 minutes – after weather presenter Alex Beresford criticised him for “continuing to trash” the duchess.
Morgan faces an Ofcom investigation after the regulator received 41,000 complaints after he said on Monday he “didn’t believe a word” the royal said during her interview.