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Meghan Markle touched people's lives after Grenfell in ways 'nobody else had', says London mayor

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·4-min read
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex visits the Hubb Community Kitchen in London on November 21, 2018 to celebrate the success of their cookbook. - The kitchen was set up by women affected by the Grenfell tower fire and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex wrote a foreword to the cookbook to help raise funds for the victims. (Photo by Chris Jackson / POOL / AFP) (Photo by CHRIS JACKSON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex visits the Hubb Community Kitchen in London in November 2018. (AFP)

The mayor of London has said Meghan Markle "touched people's lives in a way no one had before" as he reflected on the interview she did with her husband Prince Harry and Oprah Winfrey.

Sadiq Khan said the interview was "heartbreaking" and sympathised with the couple and the decisions they had to make over security.

Speaking to LBC radio, Khan praised the Duchess of Sussex for touching people's lives in a different way at Grenfell, where more than 80 people were killed in a fire in a tower block in 2018.

He said: "I particularly remember going to Grenfell community in the days after Meghan had and she touched people's lives in ways nobody had.

"I am someone who talks about mental ill health because Harry and William and others gave me the confidence to do so.

"We have to be a bit careful about assuming that just because you think Her Majesty is wonderful and Charles and William are wonderful you can't also think Harry and Meghan are wonderful."

Meghan, 39, worked with the Hubb Community Kitchen in Kensington to produce a cookbook which helped them raise money for the survivors after they lost their homes.

She wrote the foreword for the book and then caught up with the women at the kitchen via video call in 2020, as they started providing meals to people during the coronavirus pandemic.

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex helps to prepare food at the launch of a cookbook with recipes from a group of women affected by the Grenfell Tower fire at Kensington Palace in London, Britain September 20, 2018. Ben Stansall/Pool via Reuters
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex at the launch of a cookbook with recipes from a group of women affected by the Grenfell Tower fire at Kensington Palace in September 2018. (Ben Stansall/Pool via Reuters)

Read more: 'No longer any trust' between Harry, Meghan and Royal Family, says royal expert

As well as her visits and work with the Community Kitchen, the Queen and Prince William visited Grenfell soon after the tragedy in 2017.

Then-prime minister Theresa May also visited the site, as did Jeremy Corbyn, in his role as Labour leader.

Reflecting on the interview, Khan also said: "You've got a family where there is a big rift. Some of the things Harry and Meghan said were quite distressing, but at the end of the day it is possible for someone who is a fan of the Queen, someone who thinks highly of Charles and William and also think highly of Harry and Meghan and be heartbroken that there is a family which is having struggles, as many families do."

Khan was asked if he knew if the Metropolitan Police, which looks after Royal Family security, would still be monitoring threats against Harry and Meghan.

He replied: "I'm not aware about that, he's not in this country.

Watch: Prince William and Prince Harry's first conversation was 'unproductive'

Read more: Prince Harry says his family 'cut him off': Who gets security in the Royal Family?

"From personal experience, one of the reasons why I accepted police protection – I declined it for some time – was because of concerns put to me about the safety of my family when I'm with them and my staff when I'm with them.

"I completely empathise with Harry's concerns about the safety his wife and at the moment one child, and children, it's really difficult when you're told by experts that because of the job you're doing, or your ethnicity or religion, or because of the fact you're Prince Harry, you yourself and your family are at risk, and you can understand why you want to keep family safe.

"When he was explaining about real time decision he was having to make because of withdrawal of protection in Canada, it was heartbreaking to watch because I have real empathy with that."

Harry told Winfrey during the interview that his family "cut him off" and said his protection was withdrawn when they were in Canada, claiming that was what prompted them to move to the US, where they stayed at producer Tyler Perry's mansion for several weeks.

Perry paid for security for the couple, and they now fund their own.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth and Prince William meet emergency workers near the scene of the the fire that destroyed the Grenfell Tower block, in north Kensington, West London, Britain June 16, 2017.  REUTERS/Hannah McKay
The Queen and Prince William met emergency workers near the scene of the the fire that destroyed the Grenfell Tower block in June 2017. (Reuters)

Some Royal Family members have security paid for by the taxpayer, while others now have security funded by the Queen because they are not working members of the family.

Security is a tricky issue for the royals, and is not something the palace ever discusses publicly.

The bill for protecting the Royal Family is reported to cost the UK about £100m a year.

Close protection for the royals is provided by the Royalty and Specialist Protection division of the Metropolitan Police.

Watch: Sadiq Khan: London's streets are not safe for women or girls