Queen Elizabeth Responds to Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's Oprah Interview: 'Concerning' Issues Were Raised
"Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved family members," reads a statement from Buckingham Palace on Tuesday
"The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan," reads the statement, which was released on Tuesday by Buckingham Palace on behalf of Queen Elizabeth.
"The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning," the statement continued. "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."
A Palace source stresses to PEOPLE that at the "heart of this is a family, and they should be given the opportunity to discuss the issues raised privately, as a family."
The family and their aides have been in crisis talks for much of the last two days as they formulate a response to the interview, which was watched by more than 17 million viewers in the U.S. on Sunday and 11 million viewers in the U.K. on Monday.
"It has been important for us to carefully consider any response before issuing," the source tells PEOPLE. "And of course releasing something today meant viewers in the U.K. had the opportunity to watch the interview, if they wished to, first."
During the interview, Meghan said she was "silenced" by the institution, adding that she was denied help when she was suffering a mental health crisis and that there were "concerns and conversations about how dark [Archie's] skin might be when he's born" voiced by a member of the royal family. Although they didn't want to name the family member, Oprah said Monday morning on CBS This Morning that it was not either of Harry's grandparents, Queen Elizabeth or Prince Philip.
With palace was in turmoil over the racism claims made in the interview, the source went on to stress that "Diversity, equality, inclusion and mental health are important issues, and highlighting them has formed part of the work of members of the Royal Family for many years."
Harry also spoke to Oprah about his relationships with his family members following their royal exit, admitting that there is work to be done with father Prince Charles and brother Prince William.
When talking about his exit from the family and financial independence, Harry mentioned his father had stopped "taking his calls" for a while, though the two are now working on their relationship again.
"I feel really let down because he's been through something similar. He knows what pain is like," Harry said. "And Archie's his grandson."
He continued, "Of course, I will always love him, but there's a lot of hurt that's happened. And I will continue to make it one of my priorities to try and heal that relationship."
Harry said his relationship with Prince William "is space at the moment," but he "loves William to bits — we've been through hell together."
A statement released Feb. 19 by Buckingham Palace confirmed that Prince Harry, 36, and Meghan, 39, won't return as working royals. The announcement came one year and one month after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex shared their plans to step back, which came with a one-year review period.
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"Following conversations with The Duke, The Queen has written confirming that in stepping away from the work of The Royal Family it is not possible to continue with the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service," the palace statement said.
In response, Prince Harry and Meghan pushed back with a statement that pointedly referenced the Queen's: "We can all live a life of service. Service is universal."
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Prince Harry and Meghan's office also said that the pair "remain committed to their duty and service to the U.K. and around the world, and have offered their continued support to the organizations they have represented regardless of official role."
The Buckingham Palace announcement said, "While all are saddened by their decision, The Duke and Duchess remain much loved members of the family."