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Prince Harry and Meghan urged to back King amid racism row

The King in Dubai for Cop28
The King, who has been in Dubai for Cop28, is yet to respond to the furore - Chris Jackson/PA Wire

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been urged to speak out in defence of the King and Princess of Wales, as leading public figures rallied to support them against accusations of racism.

Prince Harry and Meghan have remained silent after His Majesty and the Princess were named as the royals alleged to have made remarks about Prince Archie’s skin colour.

The identities first emerged this week in the Dutch translation of a new book, Endgame, by Omid Scobie, before being reported by news organisations worldwide including, on Friday morning, the BBC.

Public figures have since mounted a defence of the Royal family, with Sir Trevor Phillips, the former head of the Commission for Racial Equality, calling it a “nonsense story” and Boris Johnson, the former prime minister, insisting the alleged comments were “not remotely racist”.

Buckingham Palace maintains that “all options” are open for their own response, as the King flies home from the Cop28 climate summit in Dubai and into discussions about how to deal with the row.

However, a source close to the family urged the Sussexes to speak out and defend their relatives. They told The Telegraph: “For the couple that talked about ‘death by a thousand no comments’, the silence at this point is deafening.”

The Princess of Wales’ uncle, Gary Goldsmith, dismissed the claims as “utterly ridiculous”. Writing in the Daily Mail, he called Endgame a “tapestry of gibber and falsehoods sewn together with his personal opinion”.

Another pointedly described the decision not to respond to the claims as “interesting”, given the Sussexes made repeated complaints about being left undefended against negative press stories themselves while at the palace.

Sources close to the Sussexes have previously emphasised that the Duke and Duchess have not said that either the comments or those who made them were “racist”.

Harry and Meghan
The Sussexes have previously complained after negative stories about them appeared in the press - Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/WireImage

Earlier this year, Prince Harry blamed the British media for the label and said he considered the remarks simply to be the result of “unconscious bias”.

Commenting on the alleged remarks in the wake of the confirmation of the identities of the royals involved, Sir Trevor, who was also formerly chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “I think that there is no family of colour anywhere in the entire world where that conversation doesn’t take place... It’s a mark of excitement, I suspect.”

Mr Johnson, writing in his column for the Daily Mail, also argued the comments – as far as they have so far been reported – were “not remotely racist” but an “entirely innocent and utterly normal antepartum meditation of a kind that takes place whenever a family is expecting a baby”.

The King and Prince of Wales are yet to speak face-to-face about the latest claims, with the monarch overseas. The Prince has been conducting official duties, attending the Royal Variety Show with the Princess of Wales on Thursday night in a show of unity.

Sources have not ruled out a public response to the allegations, as well as legal action. “We’re not rushing into any decision,” said one.

The exact comments allegedly made by the royals about Prince Archie are still unknown. The claims, originally made by Prince Harry and Meghan themselves in a 2021 Oprah Winfrey interview, have been mentioned in vague terms in Endgame. In it, Mr Scobie writes that “‘several conversations’ were had in the family, away from herself [Meghan] and Harry, that featured ‘concerns’ over what colour their unborn son Archie’s skin might be and ‘what that would mean or look like’.”

However, the Dutch translation of the book named the King and, in a separate chapter, the Princess of Wales.

Representatives of the Sussexes have not yet responded to calls for further clarity. They have insisted that the Duchess had no wish for the identities to ever be publicly revealed.

The accusations have, nevertheless, overshadowed the Royal family ever since they were first made.

Prince Harry and Meghan have spoken frequently about their frustration at the Palace’s “no comment” policy, as they felt it applied to the Duchess. They were left particularly upset by headlines that she “made Kate cry”, later claiming it had been the other way around, with Prince Harry believing palace staff were leaking against them.

When they left the Royal family, it was understood that they would enjoy the freedom to respond to negative stories through their new press office.

Mark Stephens, a media lawyer, has called on the Sussexes to take legal action over the Endgame book, arguing if they are “really interested in privacy, as they profess, it is pretty surprising that they haven’t sought an injunction to prevent this information being revealed further”.

He added: “They’ve been awfully silent, they haven’t even condemned Omid Scobie and it’s also extremely unclear how a translator puts names into a transcript that were not there for translation.”

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