Michelle Obama calls Meghan’s experience with royal family ‘a teachable moment’
For Michelle Obama, the former Meghan Markle’s experiences at Buckingham Palace — particularly her account of how she encountered racism within the royal family — didn’t come as a shock.
In a Tuesday interview with NBC’s “Today” show, the former first lady recalled what it was like to be in the public eye but didn’t exactly take a side in Meghan and Harry’s rift with the royals.
In a conversation with Oprah Winfrey earlier this month, Meghan and husband Prince Harry discussed why they decided to step away from royal life in 2020. Because Meghan is biracial, they said, unnamed members of the royal family raised “concerns,” while she was pregnant with Archie, about the baby’s possible skin color.
When asked what ran through her mind as Meghan described that experience, Obama was notably diplomatic, describing public service as a “bright, sharp, hot spotlight, and most people don’t understand it — nor should they.”
There’s a lot to unpack from Prince Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah Winfrey, which re-airs Friday. Catch up with all of our related coverage.
“The thing that I always keep in mind,” she added, “is that none of this is about us. In public service, it’s about the people that we serve. I always try to push the light back out and focus it on the folks that we’re actually here to serve.”
“But what about when she talked about the fact that she experienced racism?” TV host Jenna Bush Hager asked.
“Race isn’t a new construct in this world for people of color,” said Obama, “so it wasn’t a complete surprise to hear her feelings and to have them articulated.”
A week after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s televised interview, the tabloids are still dissecting the claims.
“The thing I hope for and the thing I think about is that this, first and foremost, is a family,” she added. “And I pray for forgiveness and healing for them so that they can use this as a teachable moment for us all.”
Obama’s remarks struck a more balanced tone compared to those of Meghan’s many high-profile supporters since the duchess’ bombshell interview with Winfrey. Beyoncé, for instance, posted a photo of herself and Meghan on her website, accompanied by a message that read: “Thank you Meghan for your courage and leadership. We are all strengthened and inspired by you.”
The palace, meanwhile, issued a statement a few days after Meghan and Harry’s Oprah interview. “The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning,” it read. “While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately.”
‘The Talk’ is on a break to allow a probe of the Sharon Osbourne-Sheryl Underwood racism exchange as Holly Robinson Peete says Osbourne called her ‘ghetto.’
Winfrey’s highly watched interview with Harry and Meghan triggered far-reaching fallouts. British TV host Piers Morgan, a longtime critic of the couple, quit “Good Morning Britain” after he clashed with his cohosts over his critical Meghan remarks (and after U.K. communications regulator Ofcom fielded more than 41,000 complaints about them).
Sharon Osbourne, who judged “America’s Got Talent” alongside Morgan for five seasons, then came to his defense on “The Talk” and social media. His behavior toward Meghan and her husband, Osbourne said, is fueled by loyalty to the monarchy, not racism. Her stance prompted even more blowback, including allegations of racism leveled against Osbourne and a CBS probe of what happened between her and fellow panelists on “The Talk.”
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