The Queen issued a response on Tuesday to allegations made by Meghan Markle and Prince Harry – but what was really behind her words?
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex sparked a seismic royal bombshell in their interview with Oprah Winfrey, which was aired on Sunday, March 7, on CBS and Monday (March 8) on ITV in the UK.
In the chat, they claimed concerns were raised about Archie's skin colour and that Meghan was refused help when she was feeling suicidal.
The monarch finally broke her silence after the explosive event, with Buckingham Palace issuing a 61-word three-paragraph statement.
Here, we break down her response in full.
What has the Queen said?
The statement released on behalf of the Queen said: "The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan."
This suggests the royal family, demonstrating a show of sorrow and support, was aware in part of Harry and Meghan's struggles but did not know how bad they were.
Did the Queen mention race?
Yes. The statement said: "The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning."
By bringing up race, the Queen has acknowledged one of the most shocking elements of the Sussexes' interview in which Meghan alleged a member of the royal family raised concerns about how dark their son Archie's skin tone might be before he was born.
But there was no outright condemnation of racism.
Crucially the Queen added: "Whilst some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately."
This means the royal family effectively disputes some of the claims.
The phrase has the benefit of casting doubt on Harry and Meghan's allegations without directly saying which ones, while maintaining the issues will be taken "very seriously".
It could be any of the number of revelations made by Harry and Meghan.
So will there be a public investigation into the alleged racism?
No. By addressing the matter privately as a family issue, the Queen is seeking to direct the troubles away from the medium of a globally televised broadcast used by Harry and Meghan, back behind closed palace doors.
Did the palace mention Archie?
Yes. The Palace said: "Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much-loved family members."
This demonstration of affection for the Sussex family is almost the exact phrase used by the Queen on January 18 2020 as part of the conclusion to the Sandringham summit, when it was announced Harry and Meghan were walking away from the monarchy completely.
"Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much-loved members of my family," she said at the time.
Is the response strong enough?
The Queen and the monarchy could still face calls for an investigation into the race issue, and how a suicidal Meghan was left without support.
When Meghan was recently accused of bullying palace staff, which she denies, the palace issued a strong statement, launching a HR probe and stating the royal household "will not tolerate bullying or harassment in the workplace".
Why did the palace wait so long to respond?
The Queen is always calm and considered in the face of a crisis and will not be rushed into a knee-jerk response.
Royal aides and key royals will have spent hours in meetings formulating the best approach, and the statement on Tuesday came more than a day and a half after the interview was aired in the US.
But it is also understood they wanted to wait until the British public had seen the broadcast on ITV.
A statement before the broadcast might have seen the palace accused of trying to control the narrative and preventing Meghan from "speaking her truth", as Winfrey would put it.
Will this be the end of the scandal?
Unlikely. Harry and Meghan's remarks, particularly the race ones, have caused long-term damage to the monarchy. The Queen operates as head of state over a multicultural Britain.
Diversity, equality, inclusion and mental health have formed a key part of the work of members of the royal family for many years, but now the reputation of the Windsors – and their ability to successfully support these causes – has been brought into question.
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