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Prince William says U.K. royals "are very much not a racist family"

WorldView: Prince William on racism accusation
WorldView: Prince William denies racism in royal family; one year milestone in coronavirus pandemic 05:00

London — Prince William on Thursday became the first British royal to directly defend his family against accusations of racism made by his sister-in-law Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, and her husband Prince Harry in their interview with Oprah Winfrey. William told journalists that the royals are "very much not a racist family."

Commenting during a visit to a school in east London, Prince William added that he had not spoken to his brother Harry since the interview, but said he would.

Britain's Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge visit to School 21 in London
Britain's Prince William reacts to a question from the media as he leaves from a visit to the School 21 following its re-opening after the easing of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown restrictions in east London, Britain March 11, 2021.  POOL / REUTERS

In the bombshell interview — which aired Sunday in the United States and Monday in the United Kingdom — Meghan said she had felt so isolated in the royal family that she had faced serious mental health difficulties, even contemplating suicide. She and Harry also said an unnamed member of the family had expressed concerns about the color of their unborn son's skin.

Buckingham Palace issued its first response to the interview on Tuesday, with a 61-word statement on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II.

"The whole family is saddened to learn the full extend of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan," the statement read. "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. Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved family members."

Royal family responds to Meghan and Harry's bombshell interview 02:07

But before the interview aired, the royal family put out a statement saying they were investigating allegations of bullying made by Meghan's staff against her during her time as a working royal.

The Oprah interview has ignited a fierce debate around the world about the royal family and race, and Dawn Butler, a member of Britain's Parliament from London, told CBS News' Holly Williams on Wednesday that the royal family has existed "cocooned in a bubble of whiteness."

"It is a well-established racist trope against Black women to call them a bully or to call them angry," Butler said. "What Meghan faced is what Black women face every single day in the workplace."

In response to the barrage of negative stories about Meghan in the U.K. tabloids, Butler said the royal family needed to answer for racism that happened on its watch.

"When one institution meets another institution like the tabloid press, and they decide to amplify that racist trope, it's a problem. That is structural racism, and that's what we need to get to terms with in this country, and that's what we need to dismantle. The institution around the royal family has to come to grips with the fact that they were complicit in amplifying a racist trope against a Black woman," Butler said.

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