Nelson Mandela’s granddaughter has spoken out for the first time since the row over Meghan Markle’s references to the former President of South Africa during the court of the Sussexes’ recent Netflix documentary series. Ndileka Mandela was quoted in The Australian newspaper earlier this month as having been deeply critical of the royal couple’s use of her grandfather’s name in their seven-part series, Live To Lead, which dropped at the end of last month.
However, Ms Mandela is now denying ever having made the remarks – insisting she wants to “set the record straight” while lavishing praise on Meghan and Harry.
The article in question no longer appears to be on the website of The Australian – but has been reproduced multiple times elsewhere.
Writing for The Independent, Ms Mandela, a social activist as well as a former ICU nurse, said she had been “shocked” by claims she criticised the pair for “profiteering” from Mr Mandela’s name.
She insisted: “I had never accused Harry and Meghan of doing this.
“Instead, I was misquoted, leading to global news coverage that weaponised my name – and the name of my grandfather.”
Quotes attributed to Ms Mandela suggested she had accused Meghan and Harry of “using” her grandfather’s legacy, adding that she found it “deeply upsetting and tedious”.
She continued: “I want to set the record straight.
“It is true that I feel terribly disappointed whenever the Mandela name or face is used for commercial purposes without any benefit to the vision he stood for.
“But what’s ironic is that one of the biggest examples of this happening was not carried out by Harry and Meghan at all – but carried out by their critics, who falsely exploited my grandfather’s name to attack them.”
Emphasising her admiration for the Sussexes, Ms Mandela added: “I welcomed the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s brilliant partnership with them on Live to Lead, and I celebrate the inspiration that Harry and Meghan take from my grandfather’s legacy for their social activism.
“The words wrongly attributed to me, criticising them for quoting my grandfather, are not mine at all – they belong not to me, but to those who have amplified these falsehoods all over the world.
“I am mortified to have seen how my words were twisted in such a way as to distort my genuine concerns about the commercial exploitation of my grandfather’s legacy.”
For years people all over the world had “sold T-shirts of my grandfather” to make money for causes which did not represent the causes he believed in, Ms Mandela said.
However, she continued: “It pales in comparison to how my grandfather’s name was misused to attack a woman of colour who was, effectively, hounded out of the British royal family.
“How could such a thing happen? I believe it’s because of the symbolic significance of Harry and Meghan’s subversive dissent from the royal status quo, which has exposed to sunlight many problems with the institution of the Crown which otherwise would remain unknown.”
Ms Mandela also took aim at the Royal Family by saying: “By speaking out about their experiences in the royal family, Harry and Meghan are widening the boundaries of acceptable discourse, bringing to light the unsavoury realities of a cherished British institution that remains at the heart of racialised global inequalities.”
However, speaking to ITV’s Tom Brady earlier this month, Harry insisted neither of them had ever accused his relatives of racism.
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During the trailer for Live to Lead, Harry says: “This was inspired by Nelson Mandela who once said ‘what counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived…”
Meghan then finishes off the quote, adding: “…it is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”
Meghan also ran into controversy with respect to Mr Mandela during the course of a 6,500-word profile piece published by The Cut magazine in September, during which she talks about attending the 2019 London premiere of the live-action version of The Lion King, shortly after the birth of son Archie.
Explaining how she had been “pulled aside” by a South African cast member, she added: “He looked at me, and he’s just like light.
“He said, ‘I just need you to know: When you married into this family, we rejoiced in the streets the same we did when Mandela was freed from prison.’ ”
In response, another of Mr Mandela’s grandchildren, Zwelivelile “Mandla” Mandela, an African National Congress MP, admitted his ”surprise”.
Using a common term of endearment for his grandfather, Mr Mandela, Ndileka Mandela’s cousin, said: “Madiba’s celebration was based on overcoming 350 years of colonialism, with 60 years of a brutal apartheid regime in South Africa. So it cannot be equated to as the same.”
Express.co.uk has approached Buckingham Palace for comment.
*This story has not been edited by The Infallible staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.