By KATIE KINDELAN, ABC News
(LONDON) — Prince William became the first member of the royal family to speak out in person about the fallout from his brother Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan’s interview with Oprah Winfrey.
William on Thursday responded directly to the claims of racism alleged by Harry and Meghan, who told Winfrey that royal family members had conversations with Harry about what their son Archie’s skin would look like.
“We are very much not a racist family,” William replied Thursday when asked by a Sky News reporter, “Is the royal family a racist family?”
William, who spoke to the reporter as he walked past with Kate and other officials while visiting a school in London, also said he has not spoken with his brother since the interview aired on Sunday in the United States and Monday in the United Kingdom.
“No, I haven’t spoken to him yet, but I will do,” William responded to a shouted question.
Harry described to Winfrey a strained relationship with his once-close brother, saying, “The relationship is space at the moment, and, you know, time heals all things, hopefully.”
“I love William to bits. He’s my brother. We’ve been through hell together, and we have a shared experience,” Harry also said. “But we were on different paths.”
William’s public comments about the interview came two days after William and Harry’s father, Prince Charles, ignored a reporter’s question about Harry and Meghan’s interview.
Just a few hours later, Queen Elizabeth issued a written response on behalf of the royal family.
“The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan,” the queen said in a statement released by Buckingham Palace. “The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning. While 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 statement read.
Harry, the queen’s grandson, told Winfrey that unnamed family members had conversations with him at the beginning of his relationship with Meghan, who is biracial, that he described as including the question, “What will the kids look like?”
“There were some real obvious signs before we even got married that this was gonna be really hard,” he said.
Meghan said “conversations” between an unnamed royal family member and Harry about “how dark” his child’s skin might be also took place while she was pregnant with Archie. Winfrey later said she was told by Prince Harry that the conversations were not with Queen Elizabeth or Prince Philip.
“In those months when I was pregnant, all around this same time, so we have in tandem 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,” said Meghan, who described it as “several” conversations. “That was relayed to me from Harry. Those were conversations that family had with him.”
When Winfrey asked if the conversations focused on “how dark” the baby’s skin would be, Meghan replied, “Potentially, and what that would mean or look like.”
“That if he were too brown, that that would be a problem? Are you saying that?” Winfrey asked.
Meghan replied, “I wasn’t able to follow up with why, but that, if that’s the assumption you’re making, I think that feels like a pretty safe one, which was really hard to understand, right?”
Meghan and Harry have not spoken out or been seen publicly since the interview aired, drawing tens of millions of viewers around the world.
Meghan’s close friend, actress Janina Gavankar, did speak out about the interview and the royal family’s response, after she said she watched the interview special with Harry and Meghan.
“I thought I am so thankful that they [the royal family] are finally acknowledging the experience, but on the other side I know that the family and the staff were well aware of the extent of it, and though their recollections vary, ours don’t, because we lived through it with them,” Gavankar said Wednesday on This Morning, a TV show in the U.K. “And there are many emails and texts to support that.”
“We are all happy that we are in a new era,” said Gavankar. “We get to tell the truth. Things are different now.”
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