Britain’s Queen Elizabeth has made her first appearance since a tell-all interview by grandson Prince Harry and his wife Meghan rocked the monarchy, but made no reference to the crisis it had caused her family.
During the Oprah Winfrey interview, Meghan said a member of the royal family had made a racist comment and Harry criticised his relatives for how they dealt with press treatment of his wife, with the fallout dominating the British media since it aired last Sunday.
On Thursday, Harry’s elder brother Prince William told reporters “we’re very much not a racist family”, the day after the 94-year-old monarch herself issued a statement on behalf of the royals in which she said they were saddened by how challenging the couple had found the last few years.
The Sun newspaper, citing an unnamed source, said Harry’s father, heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles, had wanted to issue a point by point rebuttal, but the royal family had decided not to get involved in a ‘tit for tat’ battle.
In a video call with scientists and schoolchildren to mark British Science Week, the queen did not refer to the interview at all, the royals’ usual approach to what they have said was a private, family matter.
Instead she discussed the latest updates from NASA’s Mars Perseverance mission, as well as the discovery of a rare meteorite which landed in Gloucestershire, western England last month, the first to be recovered in the United Kingdom for 30 years.
“I’m glad it didn’t hit anyone,” the queen quipped during the “virtual showcase”, which took place on Wednesday although details were only released by Buckingham Palace on Friday.
When told by space scientist and broadcaster Maggie Aderin-Pocock that she had been inspired to follow her career by the exploits of Russian Yuri Gagarin, the first human in space in 1961, Elizabeth, who has reigned for 69 years, recounted that she had met him shortly afterwards at Buckingham Palace.
Asked what he was like, she replied: “Russian, he didn’t speak English. He was fascinating and I suppose being the first one, it was particularly fascinating.”