Founder of black choir from Harry and Meghan's wedding joins defence of Royal Family

Watch: Prince William says 'we are very much not a racist family'

The founder of the black choir which performed at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding has become the latest to defend members of the Royal Family against allegations of racism.

Meghan said during her explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey that a member of the family had raised "concerns" about the colour of Archie's skin before he was born.

Harry, who clarified that it was not the Queen or Prince Philip, said the conversation took place before he and Meghan were married and called it "awkward".

The claim was one of the most incendiary of the interview and has sparked a national conversation about race and the role of the Royal Family.

A statement from the Queen in the aftermath of the interview mentioned the issue of race as "concerning" and pledged to look at what happened.

And Prince William, her grandson, defended his family as "very much not a racist family" during his first public appearance since the interview.

Peaches Golding OBE, the Lord-Lieutenant of Bristol, has since spoken out in defence of Prince Charles and the family more widely.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 24:  The Kingdom Choir perform outside Kensington Palace on July 24, 2018 in London, England. The choir, which performed at the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry to Ms. Meghan Markle, announced that they have signed a record deal with Sony Music.  (Photo by Mike Marsland/Mike Marsland/WireImage)
The Kingdom Choir outside Kensington Palace in July 2018. They performed at Harry and Meghan's royal wedding. (Mike Marsland/WireImage)

She told the BBC: "I know Prince Charles professionally, I don't know him as a friend. We have worked together on programmes to increase diversity, for example, he was keen to understand why so few blue chip companies had minority ethnic owned businesses in their supply chains and why people are employed at different rates, and how to attract and retain and progress people of minority ethic background in business."

She said he had a "good track record of helping discussion in a positive way".

Read more: What Commonwealth countries are saying about Harry and Meghan's racism claim

Golding, who has had a 30-year working relationship with Charles, added: "Members of the Royal Family are in a very privileged position, they meet heads of states, and also people right on the ground and if you look at the work carried out by the Royal Family led by the queen, since the formation of the commonwealth... the members of the Royal Family have opportunities and relate to heads of state just as they would relate to people in communities.

"I do not believe in the least that they are racist."

She said: "From my perspective, I have never worked with a kinder, more respectful group of people."

Reflecting on working across all the royal palaces with her office in Bristol, she said she had "never encountered racism at all".

Golding was also asked what she thought of someone asking questions about the colour of a baby's skin before they were born, and said it was "not necessarily unacceptable".

She said: "I think many people have an interest in new babies and what they will bring to us in so many ways.

"I don't know what anyone's intention may be, it's easy in life to be slightly clumsy sometimes, you are in a different situation, you might be feeling tender and uncertain, you don't know what people's intentions are, the context, how it comes about."

Watch: People at Buckingham Palace react to Meghan and Harry's interview

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Elsewhere, Karen Gibson, founder and conductor of the Kingdom's Choir, which performed Stand By Me at the royal wedding in May 2018, told TMZ every interaction between Charles and the choir has been "gracious".

The news website reports she is "finding it hard to believe" that Charles would have asked questions about the baby's skin colour.

As well as support, some have seen the interview with Meghan and Harry as raising questions about the fur monarchy.

In New Zealand, which still recognises the Queen as its head of state, Debbie Ngārewa-Packer, co-leader of the country's Moari party, said: "The Crown? I mean, I don’t know why everyone’s so surprised that the Crown’s racist."

The Duchess of Sussex with Peaches Golding, the Lord Lieutenant of Bristol after her visit to the Bristol Old Vic theatre, which is undergoing a multimillion-pound restoration. (Photo by Ben Birchall/PA Images via Getty Images)
The Duchess of Sussex with Peaches Golding, the Lord Lieutenant of Bristol. (Ben Birchall/PA Images via Getty Images)

Speaking at an online event on Thursday run by the Centre for the Study of Modern Monarchy, Times Radio host and commentator Ayesha Hazerika said the situation did not paint the royals in a good light.

She said: "Nobody is expecting the pillars of the temple to come down, but doesn’t mean that people aren’t feeling pretty horrified at what they’ve seen. I know people are asking where’s the evidence, [for racism] but from my perspective, and speaking to family in India, for the first time you had a biracial couple in the Royal Family and they were hounded out of the family and the country.

"It doesn’t paint them in a good light.

"It's going to be interesting when they do the next big trip to America.

"Many immigrants who came here love the Royal Family, we have crockery with their face on it, but people like us, we just feel really hurt by it. It’s not a constitutional crisis but it’s a moral crisis."

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 09: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall visit Skipton House to meet NHS and MOD staff involved in the vaccine rollout on March 9, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Aaron Chown-WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Charles and Camilla kept quiet about the interview during engagements on 9 March. (Aaron Chown-WPA Pool/Getty Images)

She added: "There’s not just one bad apple, there’s covert racism and there is institutional racism, there is that in every part of society.

"There is no question that the palace is at the top of that tree. There was collusion between palace and press. The idea it was one person running around and they were being curious, that’s not enough."

Diane Abbott, the first female Black MP told CNN: "I don't think the Queen is racist. I don't think Prince Charles is racist, he has always been concerned with diversity and multiculturalism

"But it's not just about them, it's about the whole royal household. I don't think that the royal household is really up to date in thinking around race and I don't think many of them could accept having a mixed race American woman marrying into royalty and that was the problem."

Buckingham Palace's statement after the interview read: "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.

"Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved family members."