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Kate ‘pushed for key phrase’ in palace response to Harry and Meghan’s Oprah interview

Duke and Duchess of Sussex claimed a senior member of the royal family had expressed concerns about their son Archie’s skin tone

Maanya Sachdeva
Saturday 01 July 2023 17:46 BST
Oprah With Meghan And Harry - trailer

The Prince and Princess of Wales reportedly requested edits to a first draft of Buckingham Palace’s official response to the Duke and Duchess of Sussexes’ bombshell Oprah Winfrey interview in 2021.

Harry and Meghan took part in a two-hour interview with the US TV host, explaining their reasons for stepping down as working royals.

During their conversation, they levelled allegations of racism against an unidentified senior member of the royal family, claiming there were “concerns and conversations about how dark” the skin tone of their son Archie might be.

At the time, the palace released a statement on behalf of the late Queen, noting some “recollections may vary” regarding the racism accusations.

According to a new edition of journalist Valentine Low’s book, Courtiers: The Hidden Power Behind The Crown, Kate insisted that the now-famous phrase be included in the response.

A palace insider told Mr Low the initial draft had a “much milder” version of the sentiment, according to an extract from the book published by The Times.

“The debate was, do you rise entirely above it and offer the olive branch of [Harry and Meghan being] ‘much loved members of the family’? Or is there some moment when you have to intervene and offer a view?” the insider is quoted as saying.

However, William and Kate reportedly wanted the statement to be “toughened up” and insisted it needed something to reflect that the family did not accept a lot of what Harry and Meghan had claimed.

After the “recollections may vary” line was reportedly suggested by William’s private secretary Jean-Christophe Gray, there was debate over its inclusion amid fears it would “rile Harry and Meghan”.

However, it was said to be Kate who insisted it remain in the statement.

The insider said: “It was Kate who clearly made the point, ‘History will judge this statement and unless this phrase or a phrase like it is included, everything that they have said will be taken as true.’”

The Independent has contacted Kensington Palace representatives for comment.

The Queen approved the new draft shortly after, according to Mr Low’s book.

The new statement read: “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. 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.”

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