The Duke and Duchess of Sussex hold their son, Archie, during their tour of Africa in 2019 – Toby Melville/PA
Most black people think – “So what?” – about questioning the skin colour of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s baby, John Barnes has claimed, as he said the unnamed royal accused of asking the question was “being realistic”.
Barnes, the former professional footballer who has written a book about racism, said he would “expect that conversation” to happen, arguing that people will “always wonder” what the baby will look like.
The father-of-seven, who is married to a white woman, said the member of the Royal Family who allegedly asked the question would have been aware of how the public would view the child.
In March this year, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex told American interviewer Oprah Winfrey about “several conversations” within the Royal Family about how dark their baby’s skin might be, ahead of the birth of their son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex sat in a beautiful garden during their interview with Oprah Winfrey – Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions/PA
“In those months when I was pregnant [there were] concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he was born,” said Meghan, explaining that the conversations were held with Prince Harry who then relayed them to her.
Harry added: “That conversation, I am never going to share. At the time it was awkward, I was a bit shocked.”
The interview led to calls for the “royal racist” to be named, with the Duke of Cambridge asked in public about the accusations and answering: “We are very much not a racist family.”
In an interview about his new book, The Uncomfortable Truth About Racism, Barnes said he watched the interview at home with his wife.
He told the Sunday Times Magazine: “You speak to most black people and they’ll say: “Yeah, so what?” I would expect that conversation to be had by the family.
“People will always wonder what the baby will look like and if it is going to be dark.
“If you listen to what Meghan says, it’s not about them [the unnamed royal] worrying if the baby is dark or not, it’s them worrying about how the public are going to view that.
“Because they know if the baby is too dark, the public will not view the baby as positively. They’re being realistic.
“Let’s not pretend the public won’t care whether it’s a blond-haired blue-eyed baby or jet black, because they will.”
Of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, he added: “I’m not a big fan of theirs.
“A lot of black people I know aren’t. The problem now is that if you don’t like her, people will call you a racist, when it’s got nothing to do with that.
Former Liverpool and England international footballer John Barnes – Colin McPherson/Getty Images
“That’s why it’s important to separate the idea of racism and her character as a human being.”
Asked about whether the Royal Family should “give back” any profits from the days of empire, Barnes – who was made an MBE in 1998 – said no.
“My wife and my family loved Diana,” he said.
“To them she was like a goddess. They like the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge too. Personally, I’m not for or against the Royal Family. They stole what they stole in the last thousand years or whatever, but we are where we are today.
“I like them and I think they’re good for the country. I think they’re decent people who do a lot for charity.
“People might say they don’t deserve all that money because they haven’t done anything. But lots of people haven’t done anything and still have the money and prestige.”