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72 U.K. women lawmakers signed 2019 letter condemning Meghan press coverage

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In 2019, 72 female British Parliamentarians signed a letter of solidarity, calling the U.K. press coverage of Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, as "outdated" with "colonial undertones." Prince Harry referenced the letter in their interview with Oprah saying the women tried to do more to protect Meghan than his own family had. Holly Williams speaks with one of the members of parliament who drafted the letter.

Video Transcript

GAYLE KING: Welcome back to "CBS This Morning." Prince William is responding to Prince Harry and Meghan's startling claims in Sunday's interview with Oprah. In London this morning, William was asked point blank, is the royal family racist? He said, the royals are, in his words, very much not a racist family.

Other officials are now pushing for a wider debate of the racism issue, focusing on tabloid newspaper coverage of Meghan in particular. Let's go back to Holly Williams in London with more on this story. Holly, good morning to you again.

HOLLY WILLIAMS: Good morning. A group of female members of parliament is expected to call for a debate into how Britain's tabloid media has covered Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. The debate would take place here at the United Kingdom's Houses of Parliament, the center of power in this country.

Holly Lynch is one of the female members of parliament who wants a public debate into how Meghan has been treated by Britain's powerful tabloid newspapers.

HOLLY LYNCH: There's a real sense that she was an outsider, that she wasn't good enough for our royal family. Just a constant, constant tearing down of her character.

HOLLY WILLIAMS: In her tell-all interview, the duchess also accused royal aides of failing to stand up for her when the papers got it wrong.

MEGHAN MARKLE: Everyone in the institution knew it wasn't true.

OPRAH WINFREY: So why didn't somebody just say that?

MEGHAN MARKLE: It's a good question.

GAYLE KING: Harry made the extraordinary claim that his family, the royal family, was fearful of the tabloid media.

HARRY WINDSOR: With that relationship and that control and the fear by the UK tabloids, it's a really toxic environment.

HOLLY WILLIAMS: There's no doubt that Meghan has been vilified by Britain's tabloid papers, their coverage sometimes blatantly racist. But Harry singled out one group of people in this country that has stood up for the couple.

HARRY WINDSOR: Over 70 members of parliament, female members of parliament called out the articles and headlines written about Meghan. Yet no one from my family ever said anything over those three years. That hurts.

HOLLY WILLIAMS: This is the letter written to Meghan by female members of parliament in 2019, taking aim at the outdated colonial undertones of some reporting and saying they share an understanding of the abuse and intimidation. Holly Lynch wrote the letter.

HOLLY LYNCH: --that we've got a responsibility to them. So it's not only about stepping in to try and protect the Duchess of Sussex but to all those young women who'll be feeling utterly let down by the nature of those headlines and feeling powerless if they're in the same situation.

HOLLY WILLIAMS: The executive director of the Society of Editors, a group that defends media freedom, said on Monday that the press here is, quote, "not bigoted" and that it was not acceptable for the Duke and Duchess to make such claims without providing any supporting evidence. He's now resigned following a backlash from journalists, Anthony?

- Holly Williams in London. Yeah, and this is something we've talked about here because we don't see it in this country, obviously. It's the press over there. But she endured some really vicious attacks.

GAYLE KING: Well, I also think Megan has plenty of receipts, meaning that she's been keeping track of things. And all you need to do is look at the headlines. We've been looking at them all year. It's one after the other. I can remember one that said, straight out of Compton, that her mother was from the wrong side of the tracks with dreadlocks.

- Remember the avocado incident?


- When Kate has avocado, she's doing it for the baby. When Meghan does, it's ruining the rainforest and global desecration.

- And saying that she's from gangster royalty. I mean, that's just--

GAYLE KING: There's definitely a difference in the coverage. So at least you have to acknowledge that. And I think that's part of the problem with them. No one ever acknowledges that this is happening. And now, what I like is that there is a microscope on it. Everybody's paying attention to it. You can draw your own conclusions.

- I was struck out how politely the question was asked of Prince William this morning.

GAYLE KING: Oh, is the royal family racist?

- Is the royal family a racist family, sir?

GAYLE KING: Oh, yes. And he said it's very much not racist. Now, when you just play that clip, it sounds strange. But when you hear the question that he was asked, I think he wanted to emphasize, no, we are not racist.

- All right.