LONDON — Prince William on Thursday denied that Britain’s royal family was racist, in his first public comments after his brother, Prince Harry, and Harry’s wife, Meghan, alleged in a bombshell interview that a family member had raised concerns about their child’s skin tone and shared revelations about a rift in the usually tight-lipped institution.
Asked by a reporter whether the royal family was racist, Prince William said it was “very much not a racist family,” in remarks that were recorded and posted on social media by Richard Palmer, a royal correspondent for the Daily Express in London.
William also said he had not spoken with Harry since the interview, which aired on Sunday in the United States and Monday evening in Britain. “But I will do,” he added.
In the interview with Oprah Winfrey, Harry called the British press racist and Meghan said that royal life was so emotionally isolating that it had left her contemplating suicide. The accusations have set off a national discussion around entrenched racism within the monarchy, with observers saying it may have damaging and long-term consequences for its reputation.
The British news media has also been swept into the reckoning. An influential professional society denied that coverage of the couple was racist, prompting an outcry from more than 160 journalists who pointed out examples of prejudice in news coverage, as well as diversity issues in British newsrooms. One of Meghan’s sharpest critics, Piers Morgan, a co-host of the ITV news show “Good Morning Britain,” resigned after his on-air attack against her prompted over 40,000 complaints to Britain’s broadcasting regulator.
Meghan and Harry did not reveal who was behind the racist comment about the couple’s son, but Ms. Winfrey indicated after the interview that Harry had asked her to reveal that it was neither Queen Elizabeth II nor her husband, Prince Philip.
Regarding his brother, “the relationship is ‘space’ at the moment,” Harry said, but added: “Time heals all things, hopefully.”
He said that ties with Prince Charles, his father, were strained and that he felt let down by him. Charles had stopped taking his calls, he said.
“I will always love him, but there’s a lot of hurt that’s happened,” Harry said, referring to his father. The monarchy, he said, could be a prison: “My father and my brother, they are trapped. They don’t get to leave.”
The royal family offered an official response to the interview on Tuesday, saying that “the whole royal family is saddened.” Though they said “some recollections may vary,” they did not deny the accusations and said they were particularly concerned about the issue of racism that the couple raised, which would be dealt with privately. William’s remarks were the first on the issue by a family member during a public appearance.
The comments came as he and his wife, Kate — also known as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge — visited a school in London after the reopening of schools in England this week. It was their first public appearance since Harry and Meghan’s interview aired.
Their visit, which focused on mental health, was timed to mark the start of an initiative for mental health resources in schools.