Former US first lady Michelle Obama has said it “wasn’t a complete surprise” to hear the Duchess of Sussex’s claims of racism within the Royal Family.

Mrs Obama described the allegations Meghan made during her interview with Oprah Winfrey as “heartbreaking to hear”.

But speaking to NBC News, she said it wasn’t totally unexpected.

“I feel like that was heartbreaking to hear, that she felt like she was in her own family – her own family thought differently of her,” she said.

Describing public service as a “bright, sharp, hot spotlight”, she continued: “As I said before, race isn’t a new construct in this world for people of colour, and so it wasn’t a complete surprise to hear her feelings and to have them articulated.”

Mrs Obama said she “prays for forgiveness and healing for them” and that the royals can use the interview as a “teachable moment for us all”.

During her and Prince Harry’s tell-all interview with Oprah, Meghan claimed that a member of the royal household had expressed concerns about the colour of their son Archie’s skin.

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The Queen issued a rare statement two days after the interview was broadcast in the UK, saying the “whole family” was “saddened” by it.

While it said that the “issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning”, it appeared to cast doubt on the couple’s version of events by adding the words “whilst some recollections may vary”.

During a subsequent visit to a school in east London, the Duke of Cambridge was forced to defend his family, telling a Sky News reporter: “We’re very much not a racist family.”

On Saturday the Duchess of Cambridge was seen at a vigil for Sarah Everard, who was kidnapped and murdered on the way home from a friend’s house in London earlier this month.

Kensington Palace said Kate wanted to pay tribute with the unofficial visit and that “she remembers what is was like to walk around London at night before she was married”.