In a new interview published in U.K. newspaper The Sunday Times, the former first lady, 71, and her daughter Chelsea Clinton were asked about Meghan and husband Prince Harry’s decision to take legal action against the British media.
“I do want to say that the way she’s been treated is inexplicable,” the former Secretary of State said.
“If the explanation is that she’s biracial, then shame on everybody,” she added, noting that she personally believed the Duchess of Sussex’s race is “certainly part of it.”
Her daughter Chelsea went on to add that another explanation could have to do with Meghan’s advocacy — which she has continued throughout her time as a royal.
“She proudly had a career first and has a voice that she thankfully continues to use,” the mother of three, 39, said. “Anyone who has the temerity to break the mold of what has previously been established and expected often, unfortunately, receives criticism and bile that I don’t understand. We’ve seen this pattern repeatedly.”
Chelsea added, “I don’t know her, but as someone who respects her, I’m so grateful that she persists, and is unbowed, and is doing work she feels called to do. And isn’t willing to be bullied.”
Earlier this month, Harry slammed British tabloids for their “ruthless campaign” against his wife. The statement coincided with a lawsuit filed by the Duchess of Sussex against the Mail on Sunday over the publication of a letter she wrote to her father, Thomas Markle.
It emerged days later that the royal dad was also taking legal action against The Sun and The Daily Mirror over alleged interceptions of his cell phone voicemails.
“Though this action may not be the safe one, it is the right one. Because my deepest fear is history repeating itself. I’ve seen what happens when someone I love is commoditised to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person,” Harry said in his Oct. 1 statement, evoking the memory of his late mother, Princess Diana.
“I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces,” he continued. ““We thank you, the public, for your continued support. It is hugely appreciated. Although it may not seem like it, we really need it.”
The royal couple’s moves have come as a surprise to even palace aides, including those who work with other members of the royal family. Some insiders said the timing distracted from the positive work Meghan, 38, and Harry, 35, achieved during their recent tour of Africa.
“This is a separate and private issue that has been willfully introduced and has sabotaged some of the great work they were doing,” historian Robert Lacey previously told PEOPLE.
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But for Harry and Meghan, who are funding the legal actions themselves, there was no choice. “To stand back and do nothing,” said Harry, “would be contrary to everything we believe in.”