Buckingham Palace should investigate any allegations of racism, Labour has said, after the Duchess of Sussex claimed an unnamed member of the royal family raised “concerns and conversations” about the likely skin colour of her son, Archie.
The Labour leader, Keir Starmer, said the issues Meghan raised during an interview with Oprah Winfrey that aired in the US on Sunday about the state of her mental health and the racism she experienced should be taken seriously.
He said it was “really sad to see the family in turmoil like this” and that it was a bigger issue in Britain than just the royal family.
Speaking during a visit to a school in Dagenham, east London, Starmer said: “The issues that Meghan has raised of racism and mental health are really serious issues. It is a reminder that too many people experience racism in 21st-century Britain. We have to take that very, very seriously.
“Nobody, but nobody, should be prejudiced [against] because of the colour of their skin or because of their mental health issues. This is bigger than the royal family. For too many years we have been too dismissive and too willing to put these issues to one side.”
The prime minister’s official spokesman refused to comment on the claims made by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and said Boris Johnson had not watched the interview.
Asked whether Johnson agreed with the Labour leader that the allegations needed to be taken seriously, the spokesman said: “It is a matter for the palace but the prime minister hasn’t seen those interviews.”
Watch: How Are People Reacting to the Harry and Meghan's Interview?
Johnson is expected to respond to the allegations when he takes questions at a Covid press conference on Monday afternoon.
The shadow education secretary, Kate Green, said Meghan’s accusations were “really distressing, shocking”.
Green told Sky News: “And if there are allegations of racism then I would expect them to be treated by the palace with the utmost seriousness, and fully investigated.”
In the interview, the duchess said that when she was pregnant with Archie the royal expressed “concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born”.
Asked about this by Winfrey, Meghan said there had been “several conversations” with her husband, Prince Harry, about Archie’s likely skin tone, and “what that would mean or look like”.
Winfrey asked whether this meant there were concerns her child would be “too brown”. Meghan replied: “If that is the assumption you are making, that is a pretty safe one.”
Asked whether the palace needed to respond to the claims, Green said: “I’m sure that the palace will be thinking very carefully about that, and I certainly think people will be wondering what is going to be said. But there’s never any excuse, in any circumstances, for racism, and I think it is important that action is taken to investigate what are really shocking allegations.”
There has been no official government response to the interview so far. Vicky Ford, the minister for children, who was undertaking a broadcast round to talk about the full reopening of schools in England, told the BBC she had not seen the interview.
She added: “There’s no place for racism in our society and we all need to work together to stop it.”
Watch: The key revelations from Meghan and Harry’s Oprah interview