Harry denies accusing royals of racism as he criticises family in TV interview

The duke sat down with ITV’s Tom Bradby to discuss his memoir.
The duke sat down with ITV’s Tom Bradby to discuss his memoir.

The Duke of Sussex has denied branding the royals racist as he accused his family of “getting into bed with the devil” and the King of sacrificing Harry’s interests in favour of his own.

In his first primetime television interview promoting his controversial memoir, Harry also criticised “family members” for a “really horrible reaction” on the day the Queen died, with leakings and briefings.

He labelled royals “complicit” in the “pain and suffering” the Duchess of Sussex faced, and told ITV’s Tom Bradby he was speaking out in his memoir because “silence only allows the abuser to abuse”.

Harry lambasted the British press throughout the sit-down interview on Sunday night, venting his frustration at the “conflict” he accused the media of creating, but saying his family had a part in this.

He also told Bradby that he loved his father Charles and brother the Prince of Wales, but said: “At the moment, I don’t recognise them, as much as they probably don’t recognise me.”

He added: “Nothing of what I’ve done in this book or otherwise has ever been any intention to harm them or hurt them.

“The truth is something that I need to rely on, and after many, many years of lies being told about me and my family, there comes a point where, you know, again, going back to the relationship between certain members of the family and the tabloid press, those certain members have decided to get in the bed with the devil, right, to rehabilitate their image.”

Royal wedding
Harry and William on the duke’s wedding day (Chris Jackson/PA)

Harry’s book Spare, due out on Tuesday, has sparked a furore over his claims that William physically attacked him, while his admission he killed 25 Taliban members during the Afghanistan war generated protests in Helmand province over the weekend.

In shock remarks, Harry denied he accused the royal family of racism in his Oprah interview, when Meghan revealed an unnamed family member raised concerns about how dark their unborn son’s skin would be.

“No I didn’t…the British press said that…did Meghan ever mention that they’re racist?…There was concern about his skin colour,” the duke said.

Bradby, appearing taken aback, asked: “Wouldn’t you describe that as essentially racist?” Harry replied: “I wouldn’t, not having lived within that family.”

He added: “Going back to the difference between what my understanding is because of my own experience, the difference between racism and unconscious bias, the two things are different.”

The claims in March 2021 left Oprah open-mouthed with shock and plunged the monarchy into crisis as it faced accusations of racism, but Harry again refused to name the royal allegedly involved.

Monarchy in crisis after series of revelations by Meghan
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex during their interview with Oprah Winfrey (Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions/PA)

Harry also backed the Queen’s former lady in waiting Lady Susan Hussey who quit an honorary role after asking a black British domestic violence campaigner where she really came from.

“Meghan and I love Susan Hussey…She never meant any harm at all,” he said.

Accusing his family of a having a role in Meghan’s distress, Harry said: “At that time I didn’t fully understand how much – or how complicit – the family were in that pain and suffering that was happening to my wife, and the one group of people that could’ve helped or stopped this from happening were the very people that were, that were encouraging it to happen.”

As Bradby outlined Harry’s criticisms of his father including that the duke’s interests are “sacrificed to his interests, certainly when it comes to the press”, the duke said he understood the need to have that relationship with the tabloid press but did not agree with it.

He said there had been “incredibly hurtful” decisions, adding: “And they, and it continues. It hasn’t stopped. It’s continuing the whole, the whole way through.”

Duke of Sussex autobiography – Spare
The interview on ITV (ITV/PA)

Other key moments from the Sunday night programme, which ran for 1 hour 40 minutes, include:

– Harry said it was “fair” to say William and the Princess of Wales did not get on with Meghan from the beginning, and that they stereotyped the divorced, biracial American actress.

– His compassion for Charles at having to break the news to his son that their mother Diana, Princess of Wales was dead.

– How Charles once told Harry as he discussed his struggles: “I suppose it’s my fault. I should have got you the help you needed years ago.”

Duke of Sussex autobiography – Spare
The royal family (Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA)

– Harry describing how he fled his home country with his wife and son fearing for his life.

– His fears of becoming a single father if history with Diana repeated itself with Meghan.

– How the people “predominantly responsible” for the princess’s death “all got away with it”.

– The duke was shown photographs of his mother “slumped on the back of the seat” after asking for evidence of how she died.

– Harry calling the bluff of a tabloid editor who threatened to expose a photo of him taking cocaine.

– Harry denying that he was “scathing” towards Camilla and the rest of his family.

Harry said he wanted reconciliation with his father and brother, and forgiveness was 100% a possibility, but grilled by Bradby on whether he had taken a “flamethrower” to any bridges, the duke insisted: “Silence only allows the abuser to abuse.”

“They’ve shown absolutely no willingness to reconcile up until this point. And I’m not sure how honesty is burning bridges,” Harry added.

Duke of Sussex autobiography – Spare
The Duke of Sussex during his interview with ITV’s Tom Bradby in California (Harry: The Interview on ITV1/PA)

Harry’s tell-all tales in his book include recounting how he took cocaine and magic mushrooms, and lost his virginity to an older woman in a field behind a busy pub, with the stories have dominating the headlines for days.

With Brady bringing up the duke writing about losing his virginity at the age of 17, Harry said: “It’s four lines or something…if that”, and then quipped to the ITV News At Ten presenter and friend: “We can talk about you losing your virginity, if you want?”

Harry also revealed how he felt “slightly isolated” and different from his family in his younger years following the death of his mother, but shared joyful times with his great-grandmother the Queen Mother.

He also called out his family for a “really horrible reaction” on the day of his grandmother the Queen’s death.

His words came after he said in his memoir that Meghan was “not welcome” at Balmoral, with the King allegedly telling Harry not to bring his wife.

Speaking about the death of Queen Elizabeth II, he told Bradby: “The day that she died was just a really, really horrible reaction from my family members.

“And then by all accounts, well certainly from what I saw and what other people probably experienced, was they were on the back foot and then the briefings and the leaking and the planting.

“I was like ‘we’re here to celebrate the life of Granny and to mourn her loss, can we come together as a family?’ but I don’t know how we collectively – how we change that.”

The duke said he wrote his book in response to “38 years of having my story told by so many different people with intentional spin and distortion”.

The interview, filmed in California, is the first of four broadcast appearances over the coming days, with Harry also speaking to Anderson Cooper for 60 Minutes on CBS News on Sunday night, Michael Strahan of Good Morning America on Monday and Stephen Colbert on the Late Show on CBS on Wednesday morning UK time.