Royal asked Harry ‘How dark will baby’s skin be?’ in bombshell racism claims

Laura Elston, PA Court Reporter
·4 min read

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have accused the royal family of racism in shocking claims made during their Oprah Winfrey interview.

Meghan said that, when she was pregnant with Archie, an unnamed member of the royal family raised “concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born”.

She suggested her son was not made a prince because of his race – although rules set by George V meant he was not entitled to be one.

The American duchess is the first mixed race person to marry a British senior royal in modern history.

A stunned Winfrey asked of the comments on Archie’s skin tone: “What? Who is having that conversation?”

Meghan paused and said there were “several conversations” with Harry about Archie’s skin tone, and “what that would mean or look like”.

Asked whether there were concerns that her child would be “too brown” and that would be a problem, Meghan said: “If that is the assumption you are making, that is a pretty safe one.”

Oprah Winfrey interviews Duke and Duchess of Sussex
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions)

Pushed by Winfrey on who had those conversations, Meghan refused to say, adding: “I think that would be very damaging to them.”

Harry refused to give further details, adding: “That conversation, I am never going to share. At the time it was awkward, I was a bit shocked.”

The duke said that none of his relatives spoke out in support of Meghan following the racism he said she faced in the media.

“No-one from my family ever said anything over those three years. That hurts,” Harry said.

“But I also am acutely aware of where my family stand, and how scared they are of the tabloids turning on them.”

Winfrey asked of Archie’s lack of title: “Do you think it’s because of his race? I know that’s a loaded question.”

Meghan replied: “I can give you an honest answer. In those months when I was pregnant, all around this same time, so we (had) 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.”

The Sussex family
The Sussexes and baby Archie (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The duchess shared her upset at the “idea of the first member of colour in this family, not being titled in the same way that other grandchildren would be”, and said she wanted him to have the title so he could have police protection.

Meghan spoke of her distress at the alleged racism, particularly with the Commonwealth being such an important factor for the monarchy.

The duchess said: “I could never understand how it wouldn’t be seen as an added benefit and a reflection of the world today at all times, but especially right now, to go how inclusive is that you can see someone who looks like you in this family, much less one who’s born into it.”

The Sussexes have been vocal supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Meghan previously delivered an impassioned Black Lives Matter speech to her old high school following the death of George Floyd in the US, sharing her “absolute devastation” at racial divisions.

Harry has also outlined his personal commitment to tackling institutional racism in a message to children and young adults at The Diana Awards ceremony.

Oprah Winfrey interviews Duke and Duchess of Sussex
Harry and Meghan on their final public royal engagement (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

But he admitted in the past that his privileged upbringing as a member of the royal family meant he had no understanding of unconscious racial bias.

Harry said it took him many years – and the experience of “living” in wife Meghan’s shoes – to recognise the issue.

The duke has himself been accused of racism in the past.

He was widely condemned in 2009 after being caught on film calling a former Army colleague “our little Paki friend”, and in 2005 he caused outrage when he donned a Nazi soldier’s uniform complete with swastika for a fancy dress party.

Because of the Queen’s long reign and extended family – her great-grandchildren – Archie is too far removed from the throne to be a prince, due to a Letters Patent set by George V to limit the number of titles within the royal family.

But Archie will be entitled to be an HRH or a prince when the Prince of Wales accedes to the throne.