The former England and Liverpool footballer claims most black people would say “so what?” in response to Meghan Markle and Prince Harry saying the skin colour of their then unborn baby was discussed
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The Royal Family member who asked how dark Harry and Meghan’s baby would be was just being realistic about the state of British society, John Barnes has said.
The former England and Liverpool player claims most black people thought “So what?” when the Duke and Duchess of Sussex recalled the query in an interview with Oprah Winfrey.
Meghan said there had been “several conversations” within the Royal Family about how dark their baby’s skin might be, ahead of Archie Mountbatten-Windsor’s birth.
She said: “In those months when I was pregnant (there were) concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he was born.”
Harry, who was involved in the chats before relaying them to Meghan, added: “That conversation, I am never going to share.
“At the time it was awkward, I was a bit shocked.”
The revelations prompted widespread outcry, speculation about who had been asking the question and a response from Prince William, who told reporters: “We are very much not a racist family”.
Barnes, a father-of-seven who is married to a white woman, said most black people would expect that conversation to happen.
In an interview about his new book, The Uncomfortable Truth About Racism, he told The Times: “If you listen to what Meghan says, it’s not about them 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.”
Barnes went on to say he wasn’t a big fan of Meghan and Harry, before suggesting that opinion could unfairly lead to people being called racist.
He also said his family loved Prince William and Kate Middleton as well as Princess Diana, who he likened to a goddess.
In recent years Barnes has split opinion when it comes to his interventions on the topic of race.
During his heyday as one of the most gifted England footballers of his generation, a photo of him backheeling a banana off the pitch during a Merseyside derby became an iconic anti-racism image.
In recent years he has supported Liam Neeson for opening up about his desires to hurt a black man after someone close to him was raped.
Barnes praised the actor for being open and honest about his unconscious bias.
He would later speak in defence of Peter Beardsley, who made racist comments to young black players as Newcastle’s under‑23 coach.
“I’m not an apologist,” Barnes told the Guardian two years ago.
“I give balanced, constructive views and what happens is that bits and pieces of what I say are used against me.
“For a long time John Barnes was seen as the voice of reason when it came to race.
“John Barnes hasn’t changed; what’s changed is the reporting of John Barnes.”