It wasn’t the perfect week for Prince Charles to learn from a new book that he is accused of questioning the future skin tone of Prince Harry and Meghan’s children.
He did, after all, arrive in Barbados representing the Queen in a momentous celebration of the Caribbean island’s transition to a republic, where issues of race and identity politics are central.
Whether the claim of American author Christopher Anderson – made with his usual bold assertions of impeccable sources – is true is another question entirely.
It provoked immediate indignation from royal officials, with one describing it as “fictional”.
And it certainly is comforting to have a book, Brothers and Wives: Inside the Private Lives of William, Kate, Harry, and Meghan, being published in the United States safely beyond the reach of the prince’s attorneys.
Andersen has a track record of writing books about royals who rely on their most intimate and – some would say – controversial information.
In a 2001 book called Diana’s Boys, it was claimed that William and Harry insisted on walking behind their mother’s coffin when in fact they agreed to do so the night before the funeral only when their grandfather Prince Philip offered to walk with them.
For Charles, the timing of this last volume, however improbable the content, is unfortunate for two reasons.
The accusation comes as Prince Charles (pictured) engages in a sensitive diplomatic engagement in Barbados – the first country to oust the Queen as head of state since 1992.
To receive such a hideous accusation on him while he was engaged in one of the most diplomatically sensitive missions – Barbados is the first country to have removed the Queen from the position of head of state since 1992 – is bad enough, but against the backdrop of last night’s controversial documentary in the The BBC is investigating Harry and Meghan’s ties to the media, it’s a hurtful distraction.
But the way the story has spread around the world on social media hints at the potential damage such accusations can do, even against the person who has done more than any other member of the royal family to promote racial tolerance.
Charles’s tragedy is that no matter how lewd the allegations are, the blame for it lies close to home.
It was Harry and Meghan who raised the mystery of “who was the royal racist” in their interview with Oprah Winfrey last March, when the season was open for any writer to line his pockets with bogus speculation at the royal family’s expense.
According to Andersen, Charles’ alleged comments were motivated by the engagement of his son and former actress Meghan nearly four years ago on November 27, 2017.
He claims that a few hours after the announcement, the Prince asked the Duchess of Cornwall over breakfast: “I wonder what the children would look like?” Camilla was said to be “a bit surprised” and allegedly replied: “Well, pretty cool, I’m sure.”
The prince, the book claims, lowered his voice and added, “I mean, what do you think their children’s complexion might be?”
How confusing it sounds so much, but could it be true? It’s hard to think of a more daring conversation than the one we imagine here – although Andersen claims the Prince’s words came so innocently – not least because it required a major leap of faith.
A source quoted in the book, Brothers and Wives: Inside the Private Lives of William, Kate, Harry and Meghan by Christopher Anderson (pictured), makes the surprising accusation
Who on earth has ever heard this secret discussion of breakfast time, complete with sound-down effect, before, as Andersen said, “erroneous courtiers” gave Charles’ words a “racial spin”?
Can we even be sure that such exchanges happen at the breakfast table at all? The fact is that the couple tend to eat breakfast separately – Prince prefers tea and toast, while Camilla often eats or skips her food on the go.
No wonder Clarence House aides sift through the couple’s diaries on November 28, 2017, suggesting they would have had little time for such a languid discussion of toast and jam.
Charles and Camilla traveled to Stoke-on-Trent for a day of ceremonies during which the Duchess gave an interview in which she spoke of her happiness at Harry and Meghan’s engagement.
If it is any consolation for Charles, it is the view of those close to him that the quotes attributed to him are highly unlikely and therefore far from personal.
No one worked harder to improve relations between communities; He is the founder of the British Asian Trust, which aims to address the inequality and injustice related to poverty in South Asia, and has over the years forged the strongest links with the Muslim world.
He was the first senior member of the royal family to be appointed as a black press secretary, the formidable Colin Harris, who currently has an Asian Police Bodyguard and has and continues to have other BAME (Blacks, Asians and Ethnic Minority) employees.
Charles’ case is that the fallout from the royal race dispute long predates Andersen’s kettle. It all started with an opera broadcast by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
The case regarding royal racism began after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle sat down with Oprah Winfrey in March of this year (pictured) and said that a member of the royal family questioned their children’s skin color but refused to say who it was. I was
They were somewhat the most explosive and brutal of the so-called “truth bombs” and contributed to the palace’s ironic remark that “memories” of what happened “may vary”.
Like many of the couple’s allegations, it was allowed to go largely unchallenged. They told Oprah that at least one member of the royal family has expressed concern about “how dark” their children’s skin is.
But they were not prepared to identify the individual involved. A point the Duchess didn’t lose, adding: “It would be very detrimental to her.”
Meghan was adamant that questions about Archie’s complexion were motivated by racism (as opposed to, for example, curiosity) as well.
At one point, Oprah told her, “They’re worried that if he’s too brown, that’s going to be a problem.”
She replied, “If that’s your assumption, I think it feels safe.”
But remember that two very different versions of events were presented to Oprah – by Harry and Meghan – during the interview.
The Duchess claimed that “several conversations” about Archie’s skin tone took place “in those months I was pregnant”.
Meanwhile, Harry said there was only one conversation “at the beginning of their ‘relationship’ before we got married”.
Perhaps a more legitimate interviewer than Oprah has questioned this apparent contradiction. While Harry and Meghan have been talking about who they really are, neither of them could be right.
Despite this, it was shocking enough that it was shown to the gallery of Meghan’s devotees who believed she was the victim of prejudice from within the royal family.
Naturally, the guessing game began that Harry’s intervention, who he said neither his grandmother nor his grandfather were responsible, failed to stop him.
According to Andersen, Charles’ “innocent” question was echoed “in a less innocent way throughout the halls of Buckingham Palace” and “was turned into a weapon” by courtiers.
He also claims that Harry confronted his father with anger, with Charles allegedly telling him he was “hypersensitive”.
Prince William, who denounced the allegations of his interference as “we are not a very racist family”, is said in the book that he described his father’s comments as “ruthless but not a sign of racism”.
Palace insiders doubt that US-based Andersen knew of such intimate family exchanges. William, who fiercely protects his privacy, has yet to comment.
Andersen was, as expected, standing by his claims yesterday.
For Charles in Barbados, there was hope that diplomacy, for at least one night, would replace “imagination.”
But nine months later, the fallout from Oprah’s toxic interview shows no sign of abating.