London: UK's Home Secretary Priti Patel on Monday dismissed suggestions that some of the country's media coverage of Meghan Markle had racist connotations, ahead of crisis talks to be hosted by Queen Elizabeth II to chalk out the future roles for Prince Harry and his wife.
The UK's senior-most Indian-origin Cabinet member will oversee the final security arrangements for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, as they step back from the royal frontline and divide their time between the UK and North America in the future.
I'm not going to provide any detailed information on the security arrangements for either them or any members of the royal family. At this moment in time, right now, the royal family themselves need some time and space for them to work through the current issues that they're dealing with, she told the BBC.
Asked if she believes there has been an element of racism in the press coverage against Markle, she noted: I'm not in that category at all where I believe there's racism at all. I think we live in a great country, a great society, full of opportunity, where people of any background can get on in life.
Markle, 38, an American, spent a lot of her working life in Canada as an actress. I certainly haven't seen that through any debates or commentary or things of that nature.
In a Buckingham Palace statement back in 2016, Prince Harry had condemned the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls against his then fiancee Meghan Markle.
Some media commentators have raised the issue again in the past few days after the couple went public with their intention to step back as senior royals, apparently without consulting the Queen.
The bombshell announcement last week triggered an unprecedented crisis within the royal household, with the 93-year-old monarch set for her first face-to-face discussion with grandson Harry on Monday.
Her son and heir, Prince Charles, has flown back from Oman to join the so-called Sandringham Summit at her estate in Norfolk along with his older son and the second in line to the throne Prince William.
Markle, who had left for Canada last week to be with the couple's eight-month-old son Archie, is expected to join over the telephone. They are set to review a range of possibilities for the couple, taking into account plans they themselves have laid out. Only a broad outline is likely to be agreed at the crisis talks, leaving the implementation details to be thrashed out over time.
Some of the issues to be discussed during what has been dubbed as a royal showdown would include how much official royal work Harry and Meghan will do in the UK and overseas on behalf of the royal family and the government; Harry and Meghan's His and Her Royal Highness titles, and how they will be styled.
Also on the agenda would be how much money they might receive from the Queen and Prince Charles once their Sovereign Grant public funding is cut; and what commercial deals the couple might be allowed to strike.
Meanwhile, some UK media reports indicate that Harry, who has always been close to his grandmother the Queen, is in turmoil over the crisis. He is under intense pressure to choose. It is sad, The Times' quoted a source as saying.
There are also some fears that the couple might resort to a kind of tell-all interview unless an acceptable solution is found. This would result in further embarrassment for the royal household, which is said to be hurt by Harry and Meghan's move.
On their official Sussex Royal website, the couple have laid out their intention to assume a more financially independent role while supporting the Queen and the monarchy from a distance. However, this half-in, half-out combination has never been tested by the royal family before and poses a range of complications for a traditionally conservative and stiff upper-lipped monarchy.
There is unlikely to be much official information released to the public after Monday's Sandringham Summit, with the expected outcome being an announcement that talks will continue.