There are a few more tidbits coming through as Tom Bower’s book on The Duchess of Sussex hits the shelves (so to speak). Of what I’ve seen, I feel comfortable waiting until I’ve had a chance to read myself…with the exception of one. Bower has claimed that The Duchess of Cornwall is the “royal racist” Harry and Meghan alluded to in their March 2021 Oprah interview.
As you may recall, Harry and Meghan told conflicting accounts of what happened. The first version was told by Meghan alone and she said that while she was pregnant a member of the Royal Family inquired as to what color the soon-to-be-born Archie’s skin color would be and how that would look in photographs. Later on, she was joined by Harry who acknowledged that the incident occurred, but stated that it took place “early on” in his relationship with Meghan, prior to their marriage and certainly before her pregnancy.
According to Bower, Camilla said to Harry that it would be “funny” if his future child with Harry had “ginger afro hair.” Per the Mirror, “sources” close to Camilla have denied that any such conversation took place. To hear Bower tell it, he only included information in the book that would stand up in a court of law…which makes sense given that many of his book subjects have sued him over the years. They’ve also lost, which is worth noting.
The comment from Camilla allegedly took place in the midst of ongoing conversations Harry was having with his father, The Prince of Wales, in 2016 about what a future with Meghan would look like. Charles, who has been firm that he sees a smaller, more streamlined, and more efficient Royal Family as the path forward, suggested that it might even make sense for Meghan to continue acting instead of taking on full-time royal duties. In other accounts of these conversations, it’s been claimed that Harry was offended by this, believing that the offer stemmed from an unwillingness to embrace Meghan.
My guess would be that it wasn’t – it was about the fact that Charles’s siblings and their wives have proved problematic over the years, and that while Harry would have had a royal future, there was room for discussion that his wife might maintain some level of independence. And while at first blush that may seem to contradict some of the pushback so many had to Sussexit (myself included), it’s a bit different. Meghan *might* have had more leeway if she had never assumed representing the monarch or taken on official patronages. The fact that she started on and then stopped (alongside Harry, of course) is what caused the issue…among the numerous other impossible dynamics they suggested in their initial proposal. It’s also worth reiterating that these conversations in 2016 were just that – conversations about a hypothetical situation that were in their infancy.
As for Camilla’s supposed comment…this is actually a version of events that most people have guessed is what happened. Someone in the family made a comment that they didn’t intend to be offensive, but which was. If this happened, I’m certainly not going to defend Camilla here. I can understand why Harry felt uncomfortable and why Meghan felt hurt.
The issue remains, however, that we don’t know if this is what happened. Because Harry and Meghan opened the door to this without naming anyone, there’s been over a year of speculation that it was Charles, William, and Anne. Personally, the way in which Harry phrased everything made me think he was absolutely alluding to Charles or William. And that’s an unfair situation to put two men in their position in. (A point I recently reiterated in another post because I take the same issue with Buckingham Palace re: the “bullying report.”) You can’t just throw something this incendiary out there and back away to keep your hands clean. This isn’t Real Housewives and the court of public opinion here as actual constitutional implications.
And finally, the other issue is that the couple’s telling of this wasn’t straightforward. I believe *something* like this happened and that it took place in 2016, per Harry’s recounting. Which makes what Meghan said all the more infuriating and part of a broader pattern of half-truths or, frankly, flat out lies.
It ladders back up to my overarching opinion on this situation, which is that there was something of substance to Harry and Meghan’s issues with the Royal Family structure (in some cases), but they can’t get out of their own way and they end up creating so much chaos that they lose credibility and a substantial bit of sympathy.