Labour has said any allegations of racism should be investigated by Buckingham Palace after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex claimed a royal had raised concerns about how dark their son’s skin tone might be before he was born.
During an 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”.
Shadow education secretary Kate Green said claims by the American duchess, the first mixed-race person to marry a British senior royal in modern history, were “really distressing, shocking”.
“And if there are allegations of racism, I would expect them to be treated by the palace with the utmost seriousness and fully investigated,” she told Sky News.
During the couple’s candid interview, 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.”
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.”
Asked if the palace should respond to the claims, Green told Sky News: “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.
“There is 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.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said it was “really sad to see the family in turmoil like this” and that the allegations made by the duchess must be taken seriously.
Speaking during a visit to a school in Dagenham, east London, Starmer told reporters: “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 couple and said that 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.”