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Biden White House Coping With COVID-19; Skyrocketing COVID-19 Cases Worldwide; SCOTUS to Hear Vaccine Mandate Arguments; U.S. and Ukrainian Presidents to Speak Soon; Severe Storms in U.S. Southeast; Climate Change Creating More Extreme Weather Events; North Korean Leader Admits to Nation's "Food Problem"; A Royal Recap of 2021. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired January 02, 2022 - 04:00   ET




PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): And a warm welcome to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Paula Newton.

Ahead right here on CNN NEWSROOM, the new year is not loosening the pandemic's grip across the world. We'll look at whether South Africa's experience can give us a clue as to when the Omicron surge will peak.

Plus, we're live in the CNN Weather Center on the severe weather threatening millions of people right across the United States.

Plus, as Russia continues its military buildup, President Biden is expected to speak with Ukraine's president today, to reassure him of U.S. support. We are live in Moscow with the latest.


NEWTON: And we begin in the United States, where the latest COVID surge is shattering records again. The U.S. is now averaging more than 394,000 new cases a day, the fifth day in a row a new high was set. And remember, that's the seven-day average.

Most states, you see it there, the ones in dark red, have seen daily case counts rise by 50 percent or more in the last week. Now so far, thankfully, hospitalizations and deaths are lower than the peaks that we saw in 2021. But that doesn't mean the danger is over here.

The CDC estimates more than 44,000 people could die from COVID-19 in the next four weeks.

Meantime, millions of children are headed back to the classroom Monday. Others have been postponed. And it comes as a record number of children are hospitalized with COVID-19.

And some school districts now are announcing at least a partial transition to online learning. That's the approach several school districts right here in Georgia are taking. CNN's Nadia Romero reports.


NADIA ROMERO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The dramatic rise in pediatric cases for COVID-19, cases and hospitalizations, is forcing some school districts to go back to remote learning. And we're seeing that here in the state of Georgia.

At least three Atlanta area school districts say they will be back to remote learning starting this week, when they're supposed to head back to the classroom.

Instead, those students will be heading back to their kitchen tables, to their basements, to their bedrooms, to dial in virtually to learn, be in the classroom, because they're not able to physically go into the school building, because of the skyrocketing cases we're seeing here in Georgia.

And let's take a look. When you just look simply at the number of pediatric cases for COVID-19 in Georgia, it is alarming when you compare the end of November to the end of December.

We also see that skyrocketing of cases of hospitalizations for pediatric kids in Georgia, kids ending up in the hospital. Just take a look at that steep incline. And that is why so many school districts say they will be going back to remote learning. They, of course, are hoping to go back to in-person learning, the second week of January.

But it all depends on the cases and how they're doing within the school district and within the surrounding community. For Atlanta public school teachers, this is interesting, they are supposed to report to their school buildings, back to their primary locations, to undergo mandatory COVID-19 testing.

The school district says they'll used that data for their future plans. This is something that many school districts were hoping to avoid. But because of the skyrocketing numbers, we are back to remote learning for many of the school districts here. And you can expect that to have an impact across the country -- Nadia Romero, CNN, Atlanta.


NEWTON: This probably wasn't the start to a new year that Europe was hoping for, either. As you can see from the map, much of the continent looks like a COVID hot zone, especially there in Western Europe, with case numbers going up.

France is adding the United States, in fact, to its COVID travel red list. Under those new rules, vaccinated travelers from the United States will be required to quarantine for 10 days. All travelers from the U.S. will need a negative antigen or PCR test conducted less than 48 hours before departure.

And across the Channel, England began the new year with another daily case record. More than 162,000 cases were reported Saturday. But the health secretary says introducing new restrictions would be a last resort. I want to point out that those numbers, though, were for England only.


NEWTON: Scotland and, in fact, Northern Ireland did not report because of holiday delays. For more on all of this, we are joined by CNN contributor Barbie Nadeau, who is live for us in Rome.

I mean, look, Barbie, this continues to be an issue, those rising case counts in Europe.

Is there any suggestion that anymore measures will be taken?

I feel like a broken record. I've been asking you about this for several days now. And yet, European countries, with the exception, perhaps, of the Netherlands, haven't really been moving toward any kind of full lockdown.

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, they're not moving toward a full lockdown. And part of that is because the hospitalizations are still manageable. We're not seeing the types of numbers of people on respirators and intensive care that we did in the previous peaks.

And that is keeping governments or allowing them, at least, to avoid any kind of further lockdown right now. But these numbers are staggering. And none of this happens in a vacuum. It takes a couple of weeks before we see the real results of these numbers. We could see a jump in hospitalizations, we could see a jump in deaths.

And I think governments will, at that time, you know, think about taking stronger measures. The focus right now is to get these kids back in school after the holidays, Paula.

NEWTON: Yes, Barbie. We'll continue to watch the numbers there. And with the holidays now over, perhaps we will be hearing more early next week. Barbie Nadeau, happy new year, haven't seen you and thanks for that update.


NEWTON: Joining me now is Oksana Pyzik, she's a global health expert at University College London.

I hope you're well and happy new year to you as well. You know, we were just talking about those records. And they give many the impression that, in terms of this virus, this variant, that many of us just won't escape it. I know we keep talking about South Africa. Officials there have made it clear that their cases have peaked.

But how long could it take for cases to peak in places like the United States and Europe, where the pace of cases is just staggering?

OKSANA PYZIK, GLOBAL HEALTH EXPERT, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON: I think we definitely need to be cautious about applying what has happened in South Africa and other countries in the global north, also because of the levels of exposure to previous variants and the age of that population means we could experience something very different.

We're also very early in these waves in the U.K. and Europe as well as in the U.S. So we will really only see the impact of hospitalization. And even if the theories that Omicron is milder, again, play out in real time, when we hit population level infection, that could, in this case, be seeing it in the U.K., where hospitalizations are on the rise; whereas, one in 10 health workers are currently off sick.

So there's also disruption in terms of health care service delivery. And that's going to be a huge problem, as well as many more patients having to split up COVID wards. So we're already planning, much like in previous waves, for care outside of hospitals, in sort of pop-up venues, to deal with overflow of patients.

NEWTON: Yes, certainly the picture you paint, unfortunately, gives us flashbacks to what we really had going on in the beginning of this pandemic.

And that leads to this fatigue, right?

There are pockets of protest in Europe over the restrictions.

But how best to combat these COVID surges, when the resistance to restrictions and, in some cases, the vaccine just seems to be growing?

PYZIK: Well, certainly, there's always going to be pockets of opposition and a very noisy minority that are against restrictions and, in some cases, even against vaccines themselves.

But I think it's very important that we continue to communicate the sciences as clearly as possible. And there has been many changes in terms of the levels of risk. There have been periods over the summer, where less precaution has been needed.

And there are other periods, particularly in the winter, that, even with vaccines, we need to be more cautious and change up the rules.

And yes, that leads to fatigue but I think also sometimes we underestimate the capacity of the public to understand the variables in life and how we need to be adaptable to that.

Also, in the future, we will have things like anti-viral pills that seem to be very effective in reducing hospitalization. That will help to ease with sort of that winter pressure that we're seeing in terms of the hospitalization crisis.

Even in the U.K. previously, we've seen things that are much less severe than COVID-19, like flu has also put strain on health care systems. We have to ensure that we're looking at health care systems with maybe more outside of the box, in terms of ensuring that we have more resilience within that for the workers themselves, as well as dealing with overflow.


PYZIK: So in terms of the, let's say, people who are resisting restrictions, well, they're going to see mass disruptions anyhow, as people are going to be off sick. In Europe, their public workforce is preparing for 25 percent of their people to be off. So whether you want restrictions or not, there is going to be that impact felt.

NEWTON: Yes, and that is such a good point. We see it all around us, right, in terms of the staffing. It doesn't matter what sectors it's in.

I have to ask you, though, something I've been wondering about, do you wonder if this particular vaccine will undermine the credibility of vaccines?

Health officials have been telling us for months, this will be a pandemic of the unvaccinated. But that turned out to be an unreasonable expectation. They've said that the vaccinated are now very likely to get infected with this variant. They were just plain wrong in the first place.

Do you fear, in fact, that more people will look at that and say, well, it's a mild variant, why do I need to get vaccinated?

The vaccine doesn't seem to make much difference.

PYZIK: Well, we're also -- we have very limited data on severity of Omicron. That has been a narrative that has absolutely pushed perhaps the popularity around reducing levels of restrictions, for instance. But we will see.

The very preliminary, early data has indicated that. But, unfortunately, by the time hospitalizations prove that to be wrong, we could be in big trouble. In terms of vaccination itself, we're sort of in this position as well because many countries hoarded vaccines. So it really sped up the development of a new variant.

And we will see many more variants in the future to come, as we transition into an endemic COVID-19 situation. But really, the point of vaccines now is to reduce severity of symptoms and to reduce hospitalizations.

So, yes, Omicron, this new variant, is so much more fit, in a sense, that it can enter the body more easily, it can infect people much more easily, it's more transmissible. So it's made the vaccines less effective.

But the vaccines remain highly effective, between 80 percent and 90 percent, in terms of reducing hospitalization, especially with that booster jab. So we really need to ensure that that messaging is crystal clear.

If you are vaccinated, it's much more likely that you'll have no symptoms or very mild symptoms; whereas, the unvaccinated could be on ventilators and in the hospital. That's a huge difference, particularly for those that are vulnerable and elderly and also, just for people who don't want to have mass disruption to their lives.

NEWTON: And that was a very stark way in which you just portrayed it there and, hopefully, people are listening. Oksana Pyzik, appreciate it.


NEWTON: Now next hour, we'll examine the rise in COVID infections and hospitalizations among children. I'll be joined by pediatrician Dr. Jill Garripoli Pedalino, stay with us for that.

We are getting more details, meantime, on a developing story out of Cape Town, South Africa. Just in the past few minutes, an official said that at least 60 firefighters are now on the scene of the fire, you see right there, that broke out at the parliament building this morning.

Crews are dealing with a partial roof collapse and they've detected concerning cracks in a wall. The fire is still not under control. And that is troubling. According to one minister, no injuries have been reported. The blaze apparently spread from an office space on the third floor. The cause is under investigation.

Once again, that fire there at the South African parliament building in Cape Town and we will keep you updated on all the latest information as it becomes available.

OK, President Biden is set to begin his second year in office with a long list of major challenges. And with midterms looming, the White House knows there's very little room and time to get things done. That story, just ahead.

And at the top of his agenda, convincing Vladimir Putin it's a bad idea to invade Ukraine. A live report from Moscow, when we come back.





NEWTON: The remains of Desmond Tutu are back in the cathedral where he once preached to a nation. The former archbishop's ashes were laid to rest under a memorial stone in front of the high altar at St. George's Cathedral in Cape Town, South Africa. That's where his funeral was held Saturday.

The archbishop leading the service called on South Africans to commit to the legendary change that the archbishop advocated during his lifetime. This includes fighting for freedom, justice, equality and peace for people all over the world.

America's deepening COVID crisis is creating an even bigger challenge for U.S. President Joe Biden, as his administration confronts overworked health care and testing systems. CNN's Kevin Liptak has a look at Mr. Biden's week ahead.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Biden had hoped to enter 2022 under far more normal circumstances. Instead, the surge in coronavirus cases is really testing his ability to contain the pandemic and to reassure Americans that there may be an end somewhere in sight.

Now right now, his strategy is focused on surging resources to states, where hospitals have felt the strain, and also to bolster testing resources, to try to ease those long lines at testing sites and delays in the results that Americans are seeing around the country.

So it was 10 days ago the president promised that there would be 500 million at-home antigen tests that would be available for Americans to order online. Still, a lot of questions about the tests; we do expect to learn more about that at the end of this week.

The federal government is also opening a testing site in New Jersey. That opened on Saturday. They're going to open testing sites in Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia as well.

Now the other thing to watch this week is the Supreme Court. The justices will hear oral arguments about the president's vaccine mandates on public health workers and on large businesses.

Those mandates had actually formed a major part of the president's effort to contain the pandemic.


LIPTAK: So the fate of those will be before the court at the end of this week.

Of course, COVID is not the only issue on the president's plate when he returns to Washington. He's also trying to defuse that crisis on the Ukrainian border. He spoke to Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, last week. He's expected to speak to the Ukrainian president on Sunday night.

That is all leading up to these talks that are set to take place in Europe in the beginning of January.

The president is also focused on his domestic agenda. That is somewhat stalled in Congress right now. He is still looking for a path forward, really, just among Democrats to come to agreement on a final bill there.

And the president is also focused on January 6th. The anniversary of January 6th is coming up this week on Thursday. We do expect to hear from the president then.

So there's a whole slate of issues on the president's agenda as he enters this new year. Remember, it is not just 2022; we are also entering a midterm election cycle. Democrats' control over both houses of Congress will be up on the line in November -- Kevin Liptak, CNN, Wilmington, Delaware.


NEWTON: Now as Kevin just mentioned there, the smoldering standoff between Washington and Moscow over Ukraine will dominate much of President Biden's agenda this week. And that's beginning today, a call later today with the Ukrainian leader. CNN international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson is standing by for us in Moscow.

And Nic, this year begins as the last one ended with high-stakes talks.

Any real sign of a breakthrough at this point?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: There really isn't. And I think it's early days yet to speak about a breakthrough or even really to be able to analyze what's being said by both sides and try to sort of formulate a vision of how this can progress.

One of the things that President Biden said after that phone call with President Putin was that, if Russia de-escalates, then that's a path to negotiation. And he said, if we can negotiate, then I feel -- President Biden, these are his words -- that there can be progress.

But in essence, by saying that, what President Biden is saying, that by Russia building up its troops on the border with Ukraine, creating these tensions, as seen in the West, Russia, of course, says that these are just normal military winter training exercises on their own territory, sovereign territory. So they're free to do what they want.

But what President Biden is essentially saying here, it appears, is that Russia's troop buildup, if that de-escalates, then Russia can get some of what it wants at the negotiating table.

But what Russia is asking for, these legally binding guarantees, that Ukraine will not become a member of NATO and that NATO will roll back its presence in Europe, these are things that, if President Biden moves forward on, potentially create tensions within NATO and create fissures within NATO.

Because these are not easily changed, you know, points of NATO principle, that they will act together, they will protect and look after Ukraine's sovereignty in the face of an attack. So again, trying to read forward is very tough. But the playing field at the moment seems to be potentially here in President Putin's favor.

NEWTON: Exactly the way he wants it. With security issues so urgent, Russia has been able to deflect pressure from human rights issues. We've been here before, in terms of trying to deflect attention. You know, Putin critic Alexei Navalny remains in prison. And now some of his associates say that they fear for their safety.

ROBERTSON: There's a very wide and permeating fear for the safety of human rights activists, of potential opposition politicians and independent journalists.

You know, the crackdown that we're seeing, closing down Memorial International, Memorial Human Rights Center, just before the new year, really have sent a chilling message to many Russians, who, you know, would like to see more opposition, more independence to President Putin's view.

There's no shortage of a desire for that among a certain part of the population. But the ability to express it freely is really being shut down. And Alexei Navalny, in prison, is no longer being put on a flight risk, so is not being woken up routinely through the night but is still on the list of potential terrorists or extremists. That's going through court.

But the reality is, he's not going to be out on the streets anytime soon. And anyone who would support him vocally knows that they risk the potential of arrest, as has happened recently to some of his associates.

NEWTON: And the Biden administration will say, well, we can do two things at once. We do talk to Russia about some of these issues.


NEWTON: But given the urgent issues of these security nations, it is not top of mind in these meetings. Nic Robertson, once again, thank you so much for your insights. Appreciate it.

Here in the United States, severe storms have battered parts of the Southeast again. And it isn't over yet. Have a look at that. Meteorologist Derek Van Dam joins us with a full report.

And experts warn the environmental disasters of 2021 are proof the climate crisis is here now and it's intensifying. Coming up, I'll speak with the Nobel prize-winning author of five U.N. climate change reports.




NEWTON: And welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Paula Newton and you are watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Colorado officials will bring in cadaver dogs today to search for three people missing after a massive wildfire. Officials initially thought that no one was killed when the Marshall fire tore through Boulder County on Thursday.

But they now say that those three missing people are unlikely to be found alive, because homes associated with them have now burned to the ground. The fire was fueled by hurricane-force winds, burning close to a thousand structures before snow put out the blaze. The cause is still under investigation.

And now to the southeastern United States, at this hour, where a tornado watch is in effect for portions of Alabama and Georgia. You see it there, satellite image highlighting the current conditions. A long line of strong storms is pushing its way through the region and could produce tornadoes and damaging wind gusts.






NEWTON: William Moomaw is a professor emeritus at Tufts University and a distinguished visiting scientist at Woodwell Climate Research Center.

This is your bread and butter in terms of trying to determine what is going on with the research.

What does the data tell us about this extreme weather?

The big question everyone has, Professor, is how much is this influenced by climate change right now?

WILLIAM MOOMAW, PROFESSOR EMERITUS, TUFTS UNIVERSITY: Well, the interesting thing is, we have always had extreme weather events. But what we're seeing is that those events are becoming much more intense than they ever have been before.

The extent of, you know, heat events, droughts, precipitation, floods, the tornado frequencies, all of these things are changing. And there is enough good science to make observations to understand that much of this difference is associated with a change to climate.

NEWTON: You spell out the fact that there is this feedback loop.

Can you explain that and the fact that climate change is at everyone's doorstep now?

This is not something that's going to happen in 10 or 15 years; it's happening now.

MOOMAW: That's right. And I began working on this full-time in 1988. And we always talked about it as being in the future. The future happens to be now. And we're on a very disturbing trend line, where things have gotten worse and they are headed to be worse still.

The gases we've put into the atmosphere, the carbon dioxide from our vehicles and power plants and other gases we've put into the atmosphere, like the methane from many things, agriculture and so on, have warmed the atmosphere.

But the atmosphere has not warmed uniformly. On average, the world has warmed about 2 degrees Fahrenheit since, well, the end of the 19th century, I would say. And it is continuing to rise at an accelerating rate.

And the reason for that is that the atmosphere is not warming uniformly. The Arctic, for example, is warming two to three times faster than the average of the world as a whole. And that means that there are differences in temperature that did not exist before, between the warmest parts and the coldest parts.

And that's disrupted things like the jet stream or the polar vortex, which is a wind that flows around the Arctic, that generally used to keep cold air inside it. That has broken down, because of the way we've changed the heat that's in the atmosphere and allowed that cold air to spill out and for warm air to penetrate into the Arctic.

And that movement of these masses of air is one of the things that's causing the very peculiar and intense weather patterns that we're seeing.

NEWTON: And before I let you go, to put a fine point on this, this isn't going to get better, even if we met all of our climate change targets today, even if we set them.


NEWTON: We're in for quite a rough ride.

MOOMAW: We're in for a rough ride for a long time. But the sooner we start acting, the better.

And the reason we're in for a long ride is that the warming of the atmosphere that we are creating directly, by these -- by putting these gases in the atmosphere and, by the way, by cutting down the very forests that have been absorbing carbon dioxide and making it harder to reduce the amount that's in the atmosphere, that -- the warming that is taking place, because of the addition of the gases, is causing other changes in nature, which are releasing more heat.

And those are the feedback loops that we talk about. They are amplifying the changes that we are causing directly. So for example, the permafrost in the Arctic is thawing.

Why should I, living in a temperate zone, care about that?

Well, because, it's releasing methane. Methane is something, in 100 years, it's 20 times greater; in 20 years, it's 80 times greater than carbon dioxide. And that's warming the atmosphere even more, which then causes more melting of the permafrost.

It causes more melting or thawing of the permafrost, more melting of the ice sheets and the glaciers. And that's raising sea level. And, just so you know, 90 percent of the extra heat that's been absorbed by the Earth is in the oceans.

What we're seeing on land is only -- is less than 10 percent of the extra heat that we've absorbed. And those oceans will start giving off that heat, as we start trying to cool down the Earth. So we are in for the long haul, I'm afraid. But if we act quickly, we

can head off some of the worst weather events in the next decades. So it's imperative that we act now.

NEWTON: Yes, especially for future generations. Professor Moomaw, thank you so much. Really appreciate your input on this.

MOOMAW: Thank you for having me, Paula.


NEWTON: And North Korea's leader says his nation is facing a life-and- death struggle, not with an external enemy but with food shortages in his own country. Still ahead, his plan to solve the problem.





NEWTON: North Korea's leader has repeated a stunning admission that he made several times in the past year, that his nation is having trouble feeding its own people. Kim Jong-un was speaking at a party meeting on Friday. Paula Hancocks with the details.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): North Korea welcomed the new year with a fireworks show in Pyongyang. Performers, bundled up for the subzero temperatures, sang and danced to an audience of thousands, all wearing masks.


HANCOCKS (voice-over): A festive event to close out what leader Kim Jong-un called a year of unfavorable conditions. At a ruling party meeting this weekend, Kim barely mentioned the United States or South Korea, according to state-run media.

Instead, looking inwards, focusing mainly on domestic issues. His new year resolution, to provide more food for his people, saying the country faces a, quote, "great life-and-death struggle."

Kim has made public admissions of food shortages over the past 12 months, a perennial problem since he took power 10 years ago. COVID-19 and bad weather destroying crops have made a challenging situation even worse.

Kim is now pledging to increase agricultural production to solve the food crisis. Preventing COVID-19 infections is also stated as a priority for the year. Last month, state-run media KCNA said prevention measures were increased, including mask requirements and temperature checks. Pyongyang has yet to acknowledge any confirmed cases in the country.

The pandemic and Pyongyang's decision to shut its borders in January 2020 have exacerbated the food shortage, cutting off much-needed imports from main trading ally, China.

In July, the United States State Department of Agriculture estimated 63 percent of the population was considered food insecure. North Korea's economy is believe to have shrunk 4.5 percent in 2020.

But with NGOs having pulled out international staff due to the pandemic, an accurate, real-time assessment of how bad the crisis actually is has become almost impossible. Aid agencies estimate North Korea had a shortfall of hundreds of thousands of tons of rice last year and predict more shortages ahead, making any efforts by Pyongyang to ease this long-running domestic crisis all the more urgent -- Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.


NEWTON: And we will be right back with more news in a moment.





NEWTON: 2021 was a roller coaster of a year for the British royal family, who never seemed to be far away from the headlines. A tell-all interview shocked the world with racism allegations. And the death of Prince Philip left the queen a widow. Our Max Foster reports now from London.


MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the royal family, 2021 was punctuated by loss.

ELIZABETH II, QUEEN OF ENGLAND: In the months since the death of my beloved Philip, I have drawn great comfort from the warmth and affection of the many tributes to his life and work.

FOSTER (voice-over): Husband, father, grandfather and great- grandfather, the man she described as her strength and stay no longer by her side, after 73 years of personal and professional partnership.

One image lingers from his funeral that spoke not just to her loss but to that of so many others, who were left on their own because of COVID.

But it didn't slow her down. The queen, back at her desk, while she was still officially in mourning until doctors advised her to rest in October following a hospital stay and preliminary investigations into an undisclosed condition; later, compounded by a back sprain. KATE WILLIAMS, AUTHOR AND ROYAL EXPERT: It is an extremely punishing

schedule for someone who is 95. And I think no one would criticize her at all and everyone would support her in stepping back and doing a bit less.

FOSTER (voice-over): She gave up international travels some years ago. So Prince Charles represented her in Barbados in November for a ceremony to replace her as head of state by a locally appointed president. It marked the end of 396 years of British rule and a long- awaited reconciliation with the island's colonial past.

CHARLES, PRINCE OF WALES: The appalling atrocity of slavery, which forever stains our history, the people of this island forged their path with extraordinary fortitude.

FOSTER (voice-over): It wasn't first time that race came up as an issue for the family in 2021.

MEGHAN MARKLE, DUCHESS OF SUSSEX: Concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he's born.

FOSTER (voice-over): Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, went rogue, not just leaving their royal roles but telling all to Oprah Winfrey on why they felt the need to get out.

EMILY NASH, ROYAL EDITOR, "HELLO! MAGAZINE": It raised very serious allegations of racism but also of rifts within the family, difficulties between Prince Harry and his father, the differences between him and his brother. It really was a very warts-and-all opening-up of things that have traditionally been kept very private by the royal family.

FOSTER (voice-over): The queen issued a statement, acknowledging the allegations and committing to address them whilst also pointedly noting that recollections may vary.

The rest of the family, characteristically, kept calm and carried on, until William was fired an unsolicited question.


QUESTION: Are you a racist family, sir?

PRINCE WILLIAM, DUKE OF CAMBRIDGE (from captions): No, we're very much not a racist family.


FOSTER (voice-over): And the queen's youngest son, Prince Edward, spoke to CNN but wouldn't be drawn on the Sussex saga.



PRINCE EDWARD, EARL OF WESSEX: And listen, we have all been there before. We have all had an excessive intrusion and attention in our lives. And we've all dealt with it in slightly different ways. And, listen, we wish them the very best.


FOSTER (voice-over): The palace has continued to distance itself from Prince Andrew publicly, pursued by the FBI in recent years for sexual abuse allegations. Accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre filed a civil suit this year, claiming the royal assaulted her when she was 17.

Prince Andrew has repeatedly denied all wrongdoing. Regardless of how the impending trial unfolds, royal commentators expect the institution to survive intact.


NASH: I think the royal brand has taken quite a battering in 2021, from all sides, you know. We've had the fallout from the Oprah interview, we've had Prince Andrew's ongoing legal issues.

These are all things that, you know, really should have dented the monarchy. But I think that the key players have just quite simply kept calm and carried on and done some really good things.


FOSTER (voice-over): In February 2022, the queen will celebrate her platinum jubilee, the only British monarch to do so, having first ascended to the throne 70 years ago in 1952. The Firm is keen to focus attention on that and the success of the queen's entire reign rather than a tumultuous 12 months -- Max Foster, CNN, London.


NEWTON: And our thanks to Max there. I am Paula Newton. Thanks for your company. I'll be back in just a moment with more CNN NEWSROOM.