The official royal response to Meghan Markle and Prince Harry suggests a divided family, according to a crisis communications expert

UK royal family 2018 markle
Queen Elizabeth II is joined by members of the royal family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace. Chris Radburn/Reuters
  • The royal family said in a statement it'll address Meghan and Harry's claims privately.

  • But a crisis communications expert suggests these could be empty words.

  • Herald PR's Juda Engelmayer says the response could point to a frustrated Queen and divided family.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

After the shocking revelations made by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in their tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey on Sunday, the world awaited the royal family's official response which was released on Tuesday by Buckingham Palace.

In a three-sentence statement released on behalf of the Queen, Buckingham Palace said the royal family was concerned by Harry and Markle's claims, particularly those regarding racism, and would address them privately.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex told Winfrey there had been "concerns and conversations" about how dark Archie's skin would be before he was born, but refused to name anyone involved. Winfrey later said it was not the Queen or Prince Philip.

Juda Engelmayer, president of the public relations firm Herald PR and a crisis communications expert, spoke to Insider about what the royal family's official statement suggests is really happening behind palace doors and what this scandal could potentially mean for the monarchy.

What Buckingham Palace said

In the palace's statement, the royal family said they were "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," the statement continued. "Whilst 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," it concluded.

What the statement really means, according to a crisis communications expert

Engelmayer believes Buckingham Palace's statement could point to the Queen's sadness and frustration over a divided royal family.

Rifts within the family were brought to the fore in the interview, with Harry telling Winfrey that his father Prince Charles stopped taking his calls before he and Markle stepped back from royal life. Harry also said, for a second time, that he and his brother Prince William were "on different paths," while Markle said Middleton made her cry - and not the other way around, as British tabloids had previously reported.

"I think that the Queen is acutely aware of it," Engelmayer told Insider, speaking of the rifts in the royal family.

While the palace's statement says that the Sussexes are "much loved family members," Engelmayer said he believes the Queen isn't prepared to "talk about how nobody talks to anybody and it's not one big happy family."

And though Buckingham Palace's response said the royal family would take the issues Markle and Harry raised regarding race "very seriously," Engelmayer believes these may be empty words.

"We're in a pivotal time in society," Engelmayer said. "Given all the movements and politics of the past several years, cries of racism are hard to get over with just a wave of the hand."

Engelmayer said it's not enough to say you're "going to handle it internally." The royal family needs to show people they're taking real steps to address the issue.

A disconnect between the royals and their communications office

If everything Markle told Winfrey was true Engelmayer said, then "it demonstrates that there's some sort of disconnection between various family members, the head of the household, and the press office.

Engelmayer added that he believes there are two sides to every story.

"I don't believe Meghan's truth is 100% how it happened, I think that's her perception and how we want to see it, but I would expect there's [truth] someplace in between," he said.

Speaking about the tabloid story that Markle made Middleton cry over a flower-girl dress - which Markle told Winfrey was the opposite of what really happened - Engelmayer suggested that the palace handled this poorly at the time the story was leaked to the press. He said that that if Markle's claim that the story is false is correct, then the palace likely wanted to make sure the optics fell in Middleton's favor because William is an heir to the throne, following Charles.

He also told Insider how a hypothetical conversation about this particular story could have played out in the communications office.

"Even if that means we're kind of throwing Meghan under the bus," Engelmayer said. "It's not to hurt Meghan as much to keep the tradition and keep the way the monarchy operating the same way they have for a long time."

"I think that was a miscalculation that was poorly executed, but less out of malice and more out of standard tradition," he added.

Read the original article on Insider