Prince Andrew: Jacqui Smith makes claim about comments made
Ms Smith alleged that the Duke of York made racist comments about Arabs to her during a state banquet for members of the Saudi royal family. Ms Smith claims she and other guests were left “slack jawed” by the comments made during a conversation at the reception in 2007. Now, the allegation ‒ strongly denied by the Palace ‒ has resurfaced after Ms Smith was invited to discuss the future of the Royal Family on Channel 5’s Jeremy Vine.
Ms Smith linked her alleged experience to Meghan Markle’s recent claims in her interview with Oprah Winfrey that a senior royal made racist comments about her unborn baby when she was pregnant with Archie.
Ms Winfrey claimed in a voiceover for the programme that there were also “undeniable racist overtones” in certain coverage of Meghan in the media.
Ms Smith said on Jeremy Vine’s show today: “I did say, I did hear [Andrew] say racist things and I did say it; I mean, I haven’t talked a lot about it since and think Sophia makes an important point.
“Your argument, Jeremy, was that the Royal Family have modernised ‒ well, I’m not sure it has modernised enough, given some of the enormous controversy and hurt that a lot of people felt around Meghan Markle’s suggestions that she had been treated in a racist way, incidentally not only the Royal Family but also, of course, by the British media as well in the way in which she was treated.
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Prince Andrew was accused of making racist comments
Jacqui Smith on Jeremy Vine
“So I think there’s a need for the Royal Family to look very carefully at the way in which they are behaving to people who come into that family if they are going to maintain ‒ I agreed with Dominique, there is very high level of public support for the Royal Family, I don’t dispute that ‒ but the Royal Family will have to work hard in order to maintain that.”
Ms Smith was alluding to her previous claim about Prince Andrew that he made racist comments during a state dinner in 2007.
The politician, who was Home Secretary from 2007 to 2009, made the claim in an LBC podcast in which she was discussing the 2019 general election campaign with Iain Dale.
She said: “I met [Andrew] several times, including once at a state banquet, where after dinner I and my husband and another Labour cabinet minister had a drink with him.
Prince Andrew and King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia
“I have to say the conversation left us slack-jawed with the things he felt it appropriate to say.
“It was the state dinner for the Saudi royal family and he made racist comments about Arabs that were unbelievable.
“The fact that he thought we might find these amusing was a terrible situation to be in.”
This allegation came after a separate claim made by a former Downing Street adviser that Andrew used the N word during a meeting at Buckingham Palace.
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State Banquet For King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia
The Palace has denied that the Duke used racist language on either occasion.
A Palace spokesperson said: “His Royal Highness has undertaken a considerable amount of work in the Middle East over a period of years and has many friends from the region.
“He does not tolerate racism in any form.”
Ms Smith would not repeat the alleged remark, but said it involved “a comment about camels ‒ it’s as worse as you can imagine”.
She claims she was “ashamed to say” that neither she nor any of those with her challenged the Duke on his remarks.
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The former minister added: “I don’t think he’s very bright, I don’t think he really understands the way in which you behave and in some ways that’s not surprising, because you’re pretty insulated in the Royal Family.
“He’s the worst end of the Royal Family.”
Ms Smith later claimed on ITV’s Good Morning Britain that other people had witnessed Andrew make racist comments.
She claimed that after she spoke out on the podcast, she heard from other people who claimed the Duke made similar comments to them.
She said: “The interesting thing about what I said on the podcast was subsequently quite a lot of people who I knew from Government or other places also said to me: ‘Oh yeah, he said something a bit similar to that to me as well’.
“I don’t think unfortunately what I experienced was an isolated incident.”
Mr Dale pointed out that, while a number of people had come forward with claims about alleged comments made by Andrew, no one had ever called him out directly at the time.
He said: “No one has ever said, ‘Actually, you can’t say that’.”
Good Morning Britain host Ben Shepherd asked: “Shouldn’t he know that?” to which Mr Dale replied: “Of course he should.”