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Kate and William head out on first official engagement since Oprah interview

William today publicly hit back against Harry and Meghan’s race claims, insisting, ‘We’re very much not a racist family’. 

The Duke of Cambridge is the first royal to personally respond to the allegation during his first royal engagement since the Oprah interview, as he also revealed that he has not spoken to his brother yet but ‘will do’. 

Meghan’s claim that a senior royal raised concerns about Archie being ‘too brown’ was the most damaging allegation to come out of the broadcast, and caused untold damage to the Windsors’ reputation around the world.

William, who was visiting a school in east London to promote a mental health programme for children, defended his family’s reputation after being asked by Sky News correspondent Inzamam Rashid, ‘Is the Royal Family a racist family, sir?’ 

And when asked whether he had spoken to his brother since Sunday’s broadcast, the Duke of Cambridge said: ‘No, I haven’t spoken to him yet but I will do.’ 

The Queen broke her silence on the interview on Tuesday, saying she was ‘concerned’ about the race claims but adding in a statement that ‘some recollections may vary’.   

The Cambridges are said to be deeply upset by the way they were attacked by the Sussexes, with Meghan accusing Kate of making her cry during a bridesmaid dress fitting ahead of the royal wedding.

And as a couple who has long campaigned on the issue of mental health, they will be finding allegations that Meghan was driven to consider suicide by her treatment by the family tough to swallow.

During today’s visit, the Cambridges spoke about the return of children to classes this week and the rollout to secondary schools of a mental health project Kate launched in primary schools in 2018.

The emphasis on mental health may feel prescient in the light of the Duchess of Sussex’s claims that the palace failed to help her when she was feeling suicidal, but most royal visits are planned months in advance. 

Today royal expert Phil Dampier praised William’s intervention, tweeting: ‘Clearly very hurt but dignified. Well said, William. 

‘The royals will survive and slowly fight back but Harry and Meghan have played all their cards. From now on they can’t blame everyone else and have to stand or fall by their own actions.’

It other updates over the interview fallout today –  

  • The Queen planned to reach out to the couple by phoning them in California as she believes now is the time for a more personal approach;
  • Sir Keir Starmer said allegations of royal racism made by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are a ‘matter now for the family’; 
  • Details emerged of a ‘bizarre warning’ Harry and Meghan’s PR team reportedly sent to the BBC telling them to not only use ‘old white men’ in their coverage of the interview; 
  • US right-wing commentator Candace Owens backed Piers Morgan after his departure from GMB following a complaint from Meghan; 
  • Sharon Osbourne fiercely defended her friend Piers on The Talk against a backlash from the entire panel who say he’s been ‘racist and sexist in coverage of Meghan’;
  • Palace staff expressed dismay at the Duchess’s  claim she was left to sink or swim when she joined the Royal Family 
  • Questions were raised over Meghan’s claim her passport was ‘confiscated’ as it emerged she took 13 foreign holidays.

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Britain’s Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge arrive for a visit to School21 in Stratford, east London, to promote a mental health initiative for children on a visit to a school

The couple's visit today coincides with the roll-out of Mentally Healthy Schools resources for secondary schools and how this is helping put mental health at the heart of their schools curriculum

The couple’s visit today coincides with the roll-out of Mentally Healthy Schools resources for secondary schools and how this is helping put mental health at the heart of their schools curriculum 

It is understood that the Queen intends to try to pour oil on troubled waters by reaching out to her grandson and his wife in California. It is expected that they will speak on the phone in the next few days

It is understood that the Queen intends to try to pour oil on troubled waters by reaching out to her grandson and his wife in California. It is expected that they will speak on the phone in the next few days

Harry and Meghan’s PR team ‘sent bizarre warning to BBC not to only use ”old white men” in coverage of Duchess’s Oprah interview’ 

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s press team warned the BBC to be impartial when it covered the Oprah Winfrey interview, reports say.

Correspondents were said to have been sent the bizarre message on Monday, hours before the Sussexes sit-down with the chat show host.

The PR firm is said to have told journalists not to use only ‘white old men’ when analysing the couple’s claims.

One source slammed the stunt as ‘strange’ and they added: ‘This is the UK, not China.’

The latest intervention comes after Meghan wrote to ITV’s boss to complain about Piers Morgan’s coverage – with the popular presenter quitting GMB hours later.

Campaigners yesterday blasted the ‘chilling effect on free speech’ and said they were writing to ITV and Ofcom.

One of the Sussexes’ PRs reportedly warned BBC reporters to use a ‘broad range of contributors’.

A source told the Sun: ‘To be told how to conduct its coverage by a PR person is a bit strange to say the least. This is the UK, not China.’

But the BBC said: ‘We’re contacted by PRs all the time. We had a broad range of voices and don’t believe there are issues.’  

Royal experts described William’s comments today as ‘unprecedented’. 

ITV royal correspondent Chris Ship said: ‘It’s unprecedented for a senior royal to speak in this way.

‘And shows the fight they now have on their hands to repair their reputation following Meghan and Harry’s explosive claims.

‘Remember the Queen’s statement said ‘recollections may vary’.’

Meanwhile, former BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt said: ‘Imagine if Prince William had been in charge of the palace statement two days ago.’  

It comes as the Queen is set to extend a personal olive branch to Harry and Meghan as she takes charge of the fallout from their bombshell television interview.

With senior royals still ‘reeling’ following a series of explosive allegations by the couple, she has issued a ‘three-line whip’ to prevent staff discussing the situation publicly.

It is understood that she intends to try to pour oil on troubled waters by reaching out to her grandson and his wife in California instead. 

The 94-year-old monarch’s determination to seize the initiative is deemed to be a sensible one.

Harry said he felt let down by his father, who, he claimed, refused to take his calls over the whole Megxit saga, and admitted there was still a huge gulf between him and his brother.

He also accused an unnamed member of his family of racism and said the lack of support he and his wife received from the other royals was behind their decision to quit the UK. 

However both Harry and Meghan made a point of trying to ‘ring fence’ his grandparents from criticism, with the duchess saying how ‘wonderful’ and generous the Queen had been and boasting of being able to call her without needing to speak to officials.

Harry also insisted he hadn’t ‘blindsided’ her with their decision to step down from royal duties as he had too much respect for his ‘colonel in chief’. 

And he told Oprah to make clear in publicity for the show that the unidentified family member who Meghan claims expressed ‘concern’ about how ‘dark’ their child would be was neither of his grandparents.

Courtiers now hope and believe the Queen’s approach will help to ‘de-toxify’ such a volatile situation.

‘It is difficult to underestimate how shell-shocked everyone is by what has happened,’ a source told the Daily Mail.

‘People are literally reeling from what has happened and some staff would dearly love to publicly rebut some of what has been said about them.

‘But the Queen has taken a very measured, sensible approach. She is leading by example. This is a matter for her and the family to deal with.’

Buckingham Palace had no advance warning that Harry and Meghan had decided to sit down for an explosive ‘tell all’ with US chat show host Oprah Winfrey and were not shown the two-hour programme in advance. 

And although they had not been expecting to receive an easy ride, they were stunned at the ferocity of the allegations hurled in their direction.

The couple - seen in a car in London today - are said to be deeply upset by the way they were attacked by the Sussexes, with Meghan accusing Kate of making her cry during a bridesmaid dress fitting ahead of the royal wedding

The couple – seen in a car in London today – are said to be deeply upset by the way they were attacked by the Sussexes, with Meghan accusing Kate of making her cry during a bridesmaid dress fitting ahead of the royal wedding

And as someone who has campaigned on the issue of mental health, William will be finding allegations that Meghan was driven to consider suicide by her treatment by the family tough to swallow

And as someone who has campaigned on the issue of mental health, William will be finding allegations that Meghan was driven to consider suicide by her treatment by the family tough to swallow

During the bombshell interview, Harry accused an unnamed member of his family of racism and said the lack of support he and his wife received from the other royals was behind their decision to quit the UK

During the bombshell interview, Harry accused an unnamed member of his family of racism and said the lack of support he and his wife received from the other royals was behind their decision to quit the UK

So much for a ‘confiscated’ passport! Meghan Markle took THIRTEEN foreign holidays despite claiming Palace aides seized IDs 

Meghan Markle made at least 13 trips abroad after her relationship with Prince Harry emerged – despite claiming her passport was seized when she ‘joined the family.’

The Duchess of Sussex told Oprah Winfrey she ‘turned over’ her passport alongside her driving licence and keys when she was welcomed into ‘The Firm’ in 2016.

In her bombshell interview with the US talk show host – in which she also alleged she was ‘silenced’ by the Palace – the mother-to-be said ‘all of that gets turned over’ once you join the Royal Family.

She added: ‘When I joined that family, that was the last time I saw my passport, my driving licence, my keys – all of that gets turned over.’

Meghan, 39, suggested she didn’t see her passport again until she and Harry quit as senior royals and moved to California.

However, it has emerged the Duchess visited 13 countries as a tourist from when she started dating Prince Harry to September 2019 – when the couple jetted off to Italy for fashion designer Misha Nonoo’s lavish wedding.

Meghan and Harry announced they were stepping back as senior members of the Royal Family the following January.

Sources have claimed Meghan must have presented her passport to officials at 12 countries she visited during this period, the Sun reported.

Although the Queen does not require a passport to travel, all other members of the Royal Family are required to carry one when heading abroad.  

There was significant internal debate as to whether to rebut many of them, but instead the Queen personally opted for a ‘compassionate but firm’ approach, saying: ‘The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan.

‘The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning. While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately.’

She added: ‘Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved family members.’ The 61-word, three paragraph statement was in marked contrast to the three hours of interview Miss Winfrey boasted that Harry and Meghan had given her. 

A source added: ‘There is a long way to go but hopefully things will start to move in the right direction in order for bridges to be built.’

It is hoped Harry and Meghan will now take the same approach. Before the interview their PR team insisted it would be the ‘last word’ on the family rift.

The couple said that they felt they ‘needed to have their say’ but now ‘considered the matter closed’ and wanted to ‘move on’.

But since the screening, a raft of close friends and supporters have been given permission to push their case on social media and over the airwaves.

Insiders fear even if Harry does manage to patch up relations with his family, irrevocable damage has been done. 

Palace staff watched Harry and Meghan’s interview in horror as they claimed she was left completely unsupported when she joined the Royal Family, it emerged last night.

The Daily Mail can reveal there is genuine hurt that the couple have perpetuated the image that Meghan was cut adrift and left to fend for herself.

In fact, sources say, the duchess was given a string of the Queen’s most senior staff as ‘mentors’ after the couple became engaged, as well as being allowed to hand-pick her own 15-strong team of loyal and talented private office staff.

‘It is very disingenuous to make such a sweeping generalisation,’ one insider said. ‘There was a brilliant team of very experienced and loyal aides to help them. Sadly, she and Harry were willing to listen to no one. And that is the honest truth.’

Meghan Markle made at least 13 trips abroad after her relationship with Prince Harry emerged – despite claiming her passport was seized when she ‘joined the family’

The Queen is set to hold a private phone call with Prince Harry in the coming days, as she prepares to offer him an olive branch following his and Meghan Markle's interview with Oprah

The Queen is set to hold a private phone call with Prince Harry in the coming days, as she prepares to offer him an olive branch following his and Meghan Markle’s interview with Oprah

Who is Samantha Cohen? Queen’s long-standing aide who she persuaded to work for the Sussexes 

Originally from Brisbane, Samantha Cohen is a mother-of-three known as ‘Samantha the Panther’ for her feisty attitude. 

After studying at the University of Queensland, Ms Cohen worked in civil service and public relations and joined Buckingham Palace in 2001.

She answered a newspaper job advertisement for a media minder at the palace while she was on a trip to London almost 20 years ago.

She became deputy press secretary in 2003, before getting the top job in 2007, becoming the first woman to be appointed in the role.

Ms Cohen had also worked for Liberal ministers in both the Queensland and Federal governments.

She was made a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order by the Queen in 2016.

The Queen even personally persuaded her long-standing and extremely popular former deputy private secretary Samantha Cohen, who had just handed in her notice after working for the Royal Household for the best part of two decades, to stay on and work for the couple. 

She was their first joint private secretary, running their private and public lives rather like a chief of staff. 

One of her main roles was to help navigate Meghan through the wedding and prepare her for royal life. These included regular tutoring sessions on everything from royal etiquette to diplomatic protocol at Kensington Palace.

Australian-born Mrs Cohen, a mother of three, was considered the safest pair of hands possible. Having begun her career in the press office, rising to press secretary, and then moving to the Queen’s private office in 2010, she was the most senior woman in the household and one of the Queen’s key advisers, seen in the palace corridors as belonging to a more modern breed of royal executive.

‘The Queen gave her Sam, her most trusted, her safest set of hands,’ a source said. Yet Meghan told Oprah Winfrey that while the Queen had personally been ‘wonderful’, she hadn’t received any guidance on how to behave as a royal – leaving her forced to google the National Anthem.

‘Unlike what you see in the movies, there’s no class on how to… how to speak, how to cross your legs, how to be royal,’ she said.

‘There was none of that training that might exist for other members of the family. That was not something that was offered to me.’

‘Nobody prepares you?’ asked Miss Winfrey. 

During the interview, Meghan Markle described how 'wonderful' and generous the Queen (pictured together in 2018) had been and boasted of being able to call her without needing to speak to officials

During the interview, Meghan Markle described how ‘wonderful’ and generous the Queen (pictured together in 2018) had been and boasted of being able to call her without needing to speak to officials

Janina Gavankar: Meghan’s friend of 17 who claims Buckingham Palace were aware of her mental health problems 

Janina Gavankar is an American actress who has known the Duchess of Sussex for 17 years and took a photograph of the couple with Archie for their 2019 Christmas card.

She appeared in the 2020 basketball film The Way Back with Ben Affleck and is also known for her role in Apple TV’s drama The Morning Show with Steve Carell and Jennifer Aniston. 

She played a lesbian in one season of drama The L Word, a shapeshifter in fantasy horror series True Blood and a security agent on supernatural drama Sleepy Hollow. 

Her film roles also include 2014 rom-com Think Like A Man Too, starring Kevin Hart and Regina Hall.

As well as her acting career, Gavankar is also a musician and was part of an all-female singing group called Endera.

Gavankar is also a fan of video games and has lent her voice to Far Cry 4 and Star Wars Battlefront II.

In her Twitter bio she describes herself as an ‘actor. musician. geek.’

She attended Meghan and Harry’s wedding in May 2018 and said she did not announce her invite before being pictured arriving at Windsor Castle. 

Meghan confirmed this adding: ‘I’m sorry, but even down to, like, the National Anthem. No one thought to say, ‘Oh, you’re American. You’re not gonna know that’. 

‘That’s me, late at night, googling… I don’t wanna embarrass them. I need to learn these 30 hymns for church. 

‘All of this is televised. We were doing the training behind the scenes ’cause I just wanted to make them proud.’

She also revealed that on the first occasion she met the Queen, at Royal Lodge, Prince Andrew’s Windsor home, his ex-wife the Duchess of York – with whom he still lives – had to teach her how to strike a ‘deep curtsey’ as she had no idea what she would be required to do that in private.

Harry backed up his wife’s claims, saying one of the main reasons for their decision to quit royal duties was a ‘lack of support and lack of understanding’. 

But several sources have told the Mail that their account ‘is not one anyone recognises’.

‘No one wants to get into a tit-for-tat but it is important to stress that this idea the duchess wasn’t helped with protocol, that no one taught her to curtsey, she had to google the National Anthem herself, isn’t true,’ said one. 

It was alleged last week that Mrs Cohen was one of those members of staff who experienced bullying at Meghan’s hands, which has been denied by the Sussexes’ lawyers.

As well as being given the services of Mrs Cohen, Meghan was also put on speed dial to the Queen’s equerry, Ghanian-born Lieutenant Colonel Nana Kofi Twumasi-Ankrah of the Household Cavalry. 

Equerries are senior officers who help organise the Queen’s diary and official functions, often appearing at her side.

The Mail also understands that Meghan was able to lean on one of the Queen’s most senior ladies-in-waiting, Lady Susan Hussey, the widow of former BBC chairman Marmaduke Hussey and one Prince William’s godparents.

Actress and musician Janina Gavankar claimed that Meghan and Harry have a collection of emails and text messages to back up their bombshell claims about the Royal Family

Actress and musician Janina Gavankar claimed that Meghan and Harry have a collection of emails and text messages to back up their bombshell claims about the Royal Family

‘If you believe Archie has suffered racism then call me a Nigerian prince and give me your credit card’: Candace Owens backs Piers Morgan

 Conservative commentator Candace Owens has lashed out at Meghan Markle during an interview with Sean Hannity Wednesday night, describing the Duchess as a ‘liar’ and a ‘narcissist’. 

Owens told the Fox News anchor that Meghan ‘couldn’t keep her stories straight’ during her bombshell interview with Oprah last weekend.   

‘She [Meghan] said she doesn’t read newspapers or check social media. That’s not true because she then said that she was suicidal because of bad press,’ Owens stated. 

Conservative commentator Candace Owens has lashed out at Meghan Markle during an interview with Sean Hannity Wednesday night, describing the Duchess as a 'liar' and a 'narcissist'

Conservative commentator Candace Owens has lashed out at Meghan Markle during an interview with Sean Hannity Wednesday night, describing the Duchess as a ‘liar’ and a ‘narcissist’

Owens also claimed that Meghan’s insinuation that her son, Archie, was not offered a title because of his skin tone was also untrue. 

‘If you have seen a picture of Archie and you believe he suffered anti-black racism, then call me a Nigerian prince and give me your credit card,’ the outspoken pundit proclaimed, saying that the baby Royal had a light skin tone. 

Owens additionally mocked Meghan for putting in a complaint to British broadcaster ITV because she was upset with critical comments made by Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan.  

She has been the loyal friend and companion to the Queen since she joined the court in 1960 following the birth of Prince Andrew.

Like all ladies-in-waiting, Lady Susan accompanies Her Majesty on engagements and organises her diary, as well as dealing with her correspondence. 

She is not paid for her services. Like Sam Cohen, there couldn’t have been a safer sounding board for the duchess to use,’ said a source. 

‘Lady Susan is very approachable, as are all the ladies-in-waiting, and would have wanted to help in any way they could.

‘In fact it was said that all of the ladies-in-waiting came over to Kensington Palace to have tea with Harry and Meghan’s team… as a getting-to-know-you session.’

The calibre of the team made available to Meghan was, sources say, a sign of how committed Buckingham Palace was to supporting her.

‘The intimation from the interview was that Harry, and particularly Meghan, were on their own,’ one insider explained.

‘Of course no one could ever understand what it must be like being plunged into that world so quickly.

‘But that’s why this team was assembled. Contrary to what has been suggested, Buckingham Palace has learnt from the mistakes of the past and were determined to help them in any way they could. They wanted to make Harry and Meghan a success.

‘Unfortunately they didn’t want to listen. Harry was intrinsically distrustful of the institution and Meghan just really didn’t want to know.’

One of Meghan’s closest friends claimed yesterday that she and Harry have a collection of emails and text messages to back up their bombshell claims about the Royal Family.

Actress and musician Janina Gavankar has known the Duchess of Sussex for 17 years and was with her when she watched the broadcast of the interview on Sunday.

She insisted ‘the whole family and the whole staff’ at Buckingham Palace were aware that Meghan’s mental health was suffering. 

And she vowed ‘the truth’ would come out, as would evidence that had been collected which she believes proves their allegations.

She did not, however, detail which claims the messages referred to, the most incendiary of which is that a member of Harry’s family expressed ‘concern’ about ‘how dark’ their unborn son would be.

American Miss Gavankar, 40 – who took the photo of Harry, Meghan and son Archie that featured on their first family Christmas card – was speaking on ITV’s This Morning yesterday. 

She made clear she was speaking with Meghan’s knowledge. 

She said her friend – whom she described as ‘kind, generous and low-maintenance’ – was ‘happy’ for her to talk on her behalf.

Piers happily stopped and smiled for the cameras as he left his west London home with daughter Elise this morning

Piers Morgan today tweeted a message of thanks to the Good Morning Britain team

Piers happily stopped and smiled for the cameras as he left his west London home with daughter Elise this morning. He also tweeted a message of thanks to the Good Morning Britain team

‘We were a team, and we WON’: Piers Morgan thanks GMB stars and crew after show beat rival BBC Breakfast in ratings war for first time on his last day 

 Piers Morgan today tweeted a message of thanks to the Good Morning Britain team and said he’d achieved his one goal as he bowed out – to beat BBC Breakfast in the ratings. 

Piers tweeted this morning: ‘I had one goal when I joined GMB – beat BBC Breakfast in the ratings. On my last day, we did it. 

‘That was down to the hard work & dedication of the whole team. They don’t all agree with me, some don’t even like me, but we were a team..and we won. Thanks guys. I’ll miss you.’

On his smash-hit final episode, GMB won the ratings war with rival BBC Breakfast for the first time. 

On Tuesday BBC got 1.25m viewers, 33.4% share, compared to GMB’s average 1.29m viewers and 35.3% share.

But on Wednesday – in the wake of Piers’ departure – BBC overtook ITV again, with an average 1.42m viewers, compared to 1.21m viewers for GMB.

This comes after more than 50,000 Britons called for him to return to the programme in the space of 12 hours.    

One petition, called ‘Bring Back Piers Morgan!‘, accused ITV of treating him ‘appallingly’ and another, titled ‘Keep Piers Morgan on GMB for his common sense approach to life‘, now has more than 107,000 signatures.

And a third, which has been signed by more than 38,000 people, describes getting him sacked as ‘an absolute farce’.

 

Asked about Buckingham Palace’s 61-word statement on Tuesday, Miss Gavankar, who lives in LA and says Meghan tells her ‘everything’, said: ‘After reading this short Palace statement that came out from Buckingham Palace I thought two things.

‘On one side I thought I am so thankful they are finally acknowledging the experience [that Meghan had], but on the other side I know the family and the staff were well aware of the extent of it, and although their recollections may vary, ours don’t because we lived through it with them.’

She added: ‘And there are many emails and texts to support that.’

Meghan alleged in her Oprah Winfrey interview that she suffered severe mental health issues and ‘just didn’t want to be alive any more’.

She even claimed senior figures in ‘the institution’ thwarted her attempts to seek help, as it would not be good for the monarchy.

Asked by Phillip Schofield whether she was saying that the ‘whole family and the whole staff’ were aware there was a woman in the palace who was ‘deeply struggling’, Miss Gavankar replied: ‘I don’t know who knew. I know the family and the staff knew.’

Asked how that made Meghan feel, she added: ‘I think she spoke very well about how she felt. I believe she said she had no one to turn to within the institution.’ 

The actress confirmed Meghan had told her about it all at the time, saying: ‘Yes, she spoke to me about that. She told me what you now know.’

She also said she had spoken to Meghan about coming on TV to speak for her, adding: ‘I talk to [the Sussexes] all of the time. We watched the special together, actually.’

She also strongly denied allegations made last week that the duchess had bullied staff, claims that the Palace HR department is investigating. 

Meghan’s lawyers have denied the allegations. 

Miss Gavankar repeated unsubstantiated claims by Meghan’s PR team that one of her accusers left due to ‘gross misconduct’.

She added: ‘The truth will come out. There are plenty of emails and texts about that.’  


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