The Royal Family is in “turmoil” – and racism allegations made by Meghan Markle must be taken “very, very seriously”, Keir Starmer said today.
The Labour leader said the row was “bigger than the royal family” – and that “for too many years we’ve been too dismissive and too willing to put these issues to once side”
It comes after Buckingham Palace faced calls to investigate any racism allegations after the Duchess of Sussex claimed an unnamed member of the royal family raised “concerns and conversations” about the skin colour of her son Archie.
And she revealed she had suicidal thoughts as she struggled with life inside the royal family, saying: “I just didn’t want to be alive anymore.”
She said she begged for help, and asked to go somewhere to get help, and approached one of the most senior people in the institution, but was told it would not look good.
Starmer said the allegations needed to be taken “very, very seriously” – but the issue was “bigger than the royal family”.
He said: “It’s really sad to see the family in turmoil like this.
“The issues that Meghan has raised are really serious issues and it’s a reminder that whether you’re in east London as we are here or in Meghan’s situation that too many people experience racism in 21st century Britain and we have to take that seriously.
“It’s a reminder there’s a lot more to do. Nobody but nobody should be prejudiced because of the colour of their skin or because of mental health issues.”
Asked if there should be an investigation, Mr Starmer added: “I think they need to be taken very, very seriously.
“They are allegations in relation to race and to mental health and for too many years – this is bigger than the royal family – for too many years we’ve been too dismissive and too willing to put these issues to once side.
“We can’t do that. Serious allegations need to be taken seriously.”
Shadow education secretary Kate Green said the accusations by Meghan during an interview with Oprah Winfrey that aired in the US on Sunday were “really distressing, shocking”.
She 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.”
The children’s minister, Vicky Ford, told BBC Breakfast there is “no place for racism in our society” after she was asked about the claims.
“Now that Meghan has revealed comments about her child’s skin colour, will they investigate racism in the Palace? I won’t be holding my breath.”
Downing Street said Boris Johnson had not yet seen the Oprah interview.
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.”