"Race isn't a new construct in this world for people of color, so it wasn't a complete surprise to hear her [Meghan's] feelings and to have them articulated," the former first lady said on Today

By Adam Carlson
March 16, 2021 10:16 AM
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Michelle Obama has one hope for the royal family, in the wake of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's painful and revealing interview with Oprah Winfrey about their life in the U.K.

"This first and foremost is a family, and I pray for forgiveness and healing for them so that they can use this for a teachable moment for us all," Obama, 57, said on the Today show on Tuesday, opening up a bit more about her reaction to the bombshell Winfrey sit-down last week.

That comment echoed what the former first lady recently told Access Hollywood: "When I think about what they're going through, I think about the importance of family and I just pray that there is forgiveness and there is clarity and love and resolve at some point in time."

Speaking with Today's Jenna Bush Hager on Tuesday, the day her children's cooking show Waffles + Mochi premiered on Netflix, Obama had more to share about Meghan and Harry's interview.

Asked about Meghan's description of how race was discussed among the royals — including, most startling, how she said there were "concerns and conversations about how dark [son Archie's] skin might be" — Obama said: "Race isn't a new construct in this world for people of color, so it wasn't a complete surprise to hear her feelings and to have them articulated."

michelle obama, meghan markle, prince harry
From left: Michelle Obama, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
| Credit: Andrew Lipovsky/NBC/NBCU Photobank/Getty; Gareth Fuller-Pool/Getty

Obama, the first Black first lady, was also asked how she related to Meghan grappling with an international profile as a working royal given her own years in the spotlight.

"Public service, it's a bright, sharp, hot spotlight and most people don't understand it — nor should they," she said, adding, "The thing that I always keep in mind 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."

Meghan and Harry's interview with Winfrey, their first extensive public comments since stepping back as senior royals, stirred widespread discussion and controversy over the treatment they described.

Meghan talked of wanting to harm herself and being unable to get help within the royal system; Harry said his brother, Prince William, and father, Prince Charles, were "trapped" in a system his young family had now left.

Days after the interview aired, Prince William told a reporter, "We are very much not a racist family."

In a statement, Queen Elizabeth said, "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," the Queen said.