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Joe Biden praises the Duchess of Sussex’s ‘courage’ during her Oprah Winfrey interview

Joe Biden has praised the Duchess of Sussex’s “courage” in her interview with Oprah Winfrey, as Buckingham Palace was engulfed in a racism crisis in the wake of her claims. In the most damaging allegation for the Royal Family during the two hour broadcast, the Duchess, 39, said when she was pregnant with her son, Archie, “concerns” had been raised with the Duke of Sussex about how dark his skin might be. “Those were conversations the family had with him,” she said. Buckingham Palace is under intense pressure to react to the couple’s claims but failed to issue a response more than 24 hours after the interview first aired in the US. A senior royal source said: ”The institution needs to lead the response to this. What a sad, terrible morning.” While no response was forthcoming from the palace, the White House indicated that President Biden watched the interview and was impressed by the Duchess’s revelations about her mental health. Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said: “For anyone to come forward and speak about their own struggles with mental health, and tell their own personal story, that takes courage. “And that’s certainly something the president believes. And he’s talked about the importance of investing in these areas.” She described the couple as “private citizens” who were sharing their own story and their own struggles. The Prime Minister Boris Johnson also referenced the fallout when asked about the couple’s interview at a Downing Street press conference. “I have always had the highest admiration for the Queen and the unifying role that she plays in our country and across the Commonwealth,” he said. But on “all other matters to do with the royal family, I have spent a long time now not commenting on royal family matters and I don’t intend to depart from that today”. Zac Goldsmith, a Government minister and an ally of the Prime Minister, made a more strident public comment about the crisis on social media, challenging an assertion that the Sussexes had “dropped a bomb on Buckingham Palace.” “Not ‘Buckingham Palace’, but Harry’s family,” he said. “Harry is blowing up his family.” The interview was watched by 17 million people live on Sunday evening in the US, where reaction to the couple’s claims was overwhelmingly supportive. Hillary Clinton said it was “heartbreaking” to watch and accused the British media of “outrageous cruelty”. She also criticised the Royal Family for failing to embrace and protect the Duchess. Mrs Clinton, speaking at an International Women’s Day event, added: “I thought it was an extraordinary two hours of television. I’ve met both Harry and Meghan. I knew Harry’s mother, Princess Diana.” She said there should now be “serious, thoughtful consideration in all of the institutions across all of our society”. In the interview the Sussexes claimed they had been forced to flee the UK because of racism, accusing the Royal family of failing to support them at every turn. The Duchess revealed that when she was around five months pregnant, she felt suicidal, pleading for help. But she was told nothing could be done because it “wouldn’t be good for the institution”. A further plea for support from human resources also failed when she was told they were unable to help as she was not a paid employee. The Duchess suggested that her son’s mixed heritage might even have contributed to the decision not to give him a royal title, which was not her or Prince Harry’s choice. The claim that a member of the Royal family had raised concerns with Prince Harry about the colour of the baby’s skin sparked debate about who would have made such a comment. Ms Winfrey stoked speculation when she revealed that the Duke had told her it was not the Queen or the Duke of Edinburgh. Speaking hours after the interview aired in the US, the chat show host said: “He did not share the identity with me but he wanted to make sure I knew, and if I had an opportunity to share it, that it was not his grandmother or grandfather that were part of those conversations.” The revelations threatened to plunge the monarchy into its biggest crisis for decades. Staff from the Royal Household went into lockdown from the moment the interview was broadcast. They remained out of contact in crisis talks throughout the day, as they tried to thrash out a coordinated response. They had previously indicated that all senior members of the Royal family would be out in force this week, carrying out a succession of public engagements to give the public a clear message about where the “focus” lies. The Queen, who is understood to have received a full breakfast briefing about the interview, ploughed on with the day job as she held a telephone meeting with the Baroness Scotland of Asthal, Commonwealth Secretary-General. The Prince of Wales also held a succession of telephone meetings while the Duchess of Cornwall joined a virtual Reception to mark International Women’s Day via video link. Prince Harry, who joined his wife and Ms Winfrey for the second half of the interview, revealed that his relationship with his father had suffered significant damage. He said Prince Charles had stopped taking his calls after he “took matters into his own hands” and admitted he felt “let down” by his father’s lack of empathy. The Duke suggested that other members of the Royal family had been jealous of the ease with which the Duchess fitted into royal life and the phenomenal public reaction she received. He suggested that despite repeated pleas, they had received “no help at all” from the Royal Family and were told continuously: “This is just how it is, we’ve all been through it…” “It was desperate,” Prince Harry said. “I went to all the places I thought I should to ask for help.” Meghan claimed her sister-in-law, the Duchess of Cambridge, had made her cry at a bridesmaid dress fitting in the run-up to her wedding, and said she wanted to correct the false narrative that it had actually been Meghan who had made Kate cry. She said the palace’s failure to correct the incorrect version of events portrayed in the media had proved “a turning point” and described the whole incident as “the beginning of a real character assassination.” In lighter moments, the couple revealed they read vows to each other in their back garden three days before the spectacle of their big royal wedding in Windsor in a private ceremony conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The couple also revealed that they were expecting a girl.

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