UK prime minister Boris Johnson expressed his admiration for the Queen as he tried to steer clear of accusations of racism made by Meghan Markle against the royal family.
The wife of Prince Harry accused the royal family of raising concerns about how dark their son's skin might be and pushing her to the brink of suicide in a tell-all television interview that sent shockwaves through the monarchy.
Prime ministers rarely comment on royal matters and on Monday, after a blizzard of coverage of the interview, Mr Johnson said he would not be drawn on the racism accusations, speaking only of his admiration of Queen Elizabeth.
I've always had the highest admiration for the Queen
"I've always had the highest admiration for the Queen and the unifying role that she plays in our country and across the Commonwealth," he told a news conference when asked about the allegations.
"As for the rest, all other matters to do with the royal family, I've spent a long time now not commenting on royal family matters and I don't intend to depart from that today."
17 million viewers
The interview, which has posed questions about the issue of racism in Britain, was aired in the early hours of Monday, shortly after Queen Elizabeth celebrated the unity of the Commonwealth during the coronavirus crisis.
In a speech to mark Commonwealth Day, dedicated to the countries mainly from the former British empire that maintain links with Britain, the Queen welcomed the "deeper appreciation of the mutual support and spiritual sustenance we enjoy being connected to others" during the coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile, more than 17 million Americans watched Oprah Winfrey's television bombshell interview with Prince Harry and Meghan, according to preliminary data cited by Variety and the Hollywood Reporter on Monday.
The numbers are expected to rise when broadcaster CBS releases final official data later on Monday.
Sunday's two-hour interview was the first given by the couple since they stepped back from the British royal family a year ago. Meghan spoke of feeling suicidal, and accused the royal family of racism, while Harry said his father, Prince Charles, had let him down.
While a ratings success for CBS, the preliminary 17.1 million audience was well below that of last year's Oscars telecast at 23.6 million - one of the biggest celebrity events on US television.
Meghan and Harry's tell-all interview with Winfrey dominated the conversation on social media, morning television shows and newspaper front pages on Monday in Britain and abroad.