Oops! It appears that you have disabled your Javascript. In order for you to see this page as it is meant to appear, we ask that you please re-enable your Javascript!

Updates: Meghan and Harry Interview With Oprah

Sarah Lyall headshot

 

Sarah Lyall

The couple says they left Britain with “as much respect” as they could and tried to “protect” the royal family from, I guess, exactly the sort of things they are saying now.

Tariro Mzezewa headshot

 

Tariro Mzezewa

One of the most perplexing things over the past couple of years has been why Prince Charles never said anything in defense of Meghan and Harry. He got so much praise for walking Meghan down the aisle at the wedding, and yet when the couple seemed to be struggling he was silent. This interview, even without specifics, is showing some of the dynamics there.

Ellen Barry headshot

 

Ellen Barry

Prince Harry speaks with obvious warmth about his grandmother, but the pain surfaces immediately when he’s asked about his father — the future king. Prince Charles’s public image was so damaged by the split from Diana, and it’s been the work of decades to rebuild it. This will hurt.

Meeta Agrawal headshot

 

Meeta Agrawal

The couple shared that Harry’s family cut them off financially, and they lived solely on his inheritance from his mother, Diana. (And, presumably, “Suits” residuals.)

Meeta Agrawal headshot

 

Meeta Agrawal

Most of the interview has focused on recent history. But many are sure to point out that the institution in which Harry felt “trapped” is the same system that has endowed his family with untold wealth and privilege. It would be interesting to see them explore that territory — do they feel owed that money?

Tariro Mzezewa headshot

 

Tariro Mzezewa

I’m glad Winfrey is asking these follow-up questions. Are we really meant to feel bad for Harry, a literal prince, being “trapped”? Maybe! But it’s good to have him speaking on this.

James Poniewozik headshot

 

James Poniewozik

Winfrey — like many of the rest of us watching — has now made the comparison to the latest season of Netflix’s “The Crown.” That season deals in part with Harry’s mother, Diana, an outsider who married into the royal family, felt trapped and was an object of suspicion in the family because of her celebrity in the larger world.

Sarah Lyall headshot

 

Sarah Lyall

Harry describes his father, Prince Charles, and his brother, Prince William, as “trapped” in their roles, unable to leave, and says he feels sorry for them.

Ellen Barry headshot

 

Ellen Barry

Harry says he “wouldn’t have been able to” step back from the royal family without Meghan. She gave him a way out.

James Poniewozik headshot

 

James Poniewozik

Harry’s description of his family being driven by fear of the British tabloids is so fascinating. And it’s ironic, given that in his telling, this fear helped impel the family’s actions that brought it to this moment — in which it is now facing an absolute media disaster.

Sarah Lyall headshot

 

Sarah Lyall

Both Harry and Meghan say they pleaded with the royal family to continue to provide physical security for them, and that the royal family flatly refused.

Caity Weaver headshot

 

Caity Weaver

Harry is heavily implying that his immediate family members, initially welcoming to Meghan, soured on her after witnessing her popularity on the couple’s tour of the South Pacific.

Ellen Barry headshot

 

Ellen Barry

Stig Abell, who worked as a tabloid editor and a press regulator, called the relationship between the royal family and the tabs “a hug that always threatened to become an assault.”

Sarah Lyall headshot

 

Sarah Lyall

For those not familiar with royal-adjacent terminology, “The Firm” refers to the royal family. It’s what Princess Diana used to call it, derisively.

March 7, 2021, 9:30 p.m. ET

March 7, 2021, 9:30 p.m. ET

Credit…John Stillwell/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Even before Prince Harry broke away from the royal family, there were pressing questions about what awaits the British monarchy in the coming years.

For 68 years, the institution’s most valuable asset has been Queen Elizabeth, whose bedrock popularity has seen the monarchy through an age of social turmoil and declining British power. She has pleased palace traditionalists by sticking close to the family’s conservative traditions, like emotional distance and political neutrality.

When she dies, the sense of loss will be profound — and questions of the monarchy’s relevance to a younger generation will re-emerge.

Public support dipped in the 1990s, after the bitter public divorce of her heir, Prince Charles, from Diana, Princess of Wales. Ordinary Britons felt increasingly alienated from a “privileged, inward-looking, inbred royal family that was obviously dysfunctional,” the political scientist Mark Leonard once told me.

New energy came in the form of the two princes — charismatic, emotionally open young men who seemed more closely connected to the lives of ordinary Britons.

Prince Harry, in particular, expressed a clear desire to live more like Scandinavian royals, who hold jobs and do their own shopping. His marriage to a biracial American woman engaged a new population — younger, more urban and more diverse — in the future of the monarchy.

But conservative monarchists recoiled against these modernizing impulses long before Prince Harry’s ambivalence reached a crisis point. They may have won this round, with his public estrangement from the family, but a long-term problem emerges: How can the royals win back young Britain?

Ellen Barry headshot

 

Ellen Barry

Prince Harry is talking about the “invisible contract” between the royals and the tabloids. An exchange of access for favorable coverage. “A level of control by fear,” he calls it. A protection racket.

Caity Weaver headshot

 

Caity Weaver

It’s worth noting that Meghan opened the interview by telling Oprah Winfrey she hadn’t researched the royal family at all prior to joining it. By about 40 minutes into the program, she was casually referring to the letters patent of George V.

Tariro Mzezewa headshot

 

Tariro Mzezewa

It feels as though Meghan came into Harry’s life at a moment when he might have been trying to find a way out of “The Firm.” One thing I’m curious to see is how this interview changes things for Meghan and Harry — or doesn’t. We know that Diana’s 1995 interview ended up being quite regrettable and the source of many challenges to come.

March 7, 2021, 9:27 p.m. ET

March 7, 2021, 9:27 p.m. ET

The couple were secretly married before the public ceremony.
Credit…Pool photo by Owen Humphreys

In an unexpected development, Meghan revealed that before their official wedding, she and Harry had gotten secretly married, courtesy of the Archbishop of Canterbury, in a backyard ceremony.

“We just said, ‘Look, this thing, this spectacle is for the world, but we want our union between us,’” Meghan said. “So, like, the vows that we have framed in our room are just the two of us in our backyard with the Archbishop of Canterbury.”

At this point in the interview, Prince Harry joined his wife and Oprah in their new backyard, in California.

“Really?” Oprah asked.

“Just the three of us,” Harry said.

“Just the three of us,” Meghan added.

Sarah Lyall headshot

 

Sarah Lyall

I’m struck all over again by the contrast between the two of them. Meghan: independent and forceful; Harry: traumatized by what happened to his mother and totally supportive of his wife. It feels as if she rescued him, rather than the other way around.

March 7, 2021, 9:26 p.m. ET

March 7, 2021, 9:26 p.m. ET

The Duchess Wallis of Windsor, Mrs. Simpson.
Credit…Getty Images

Three years ago, as Britain was in a confectionary haze, preparing to celebrate Prince Harry’s wedding to Meghan Markle, the television presenter Piers Morgan made a comparison that could only be described as foreboding.

“If Meghan has got a couple of kids and decides to take them back to California,” he told me then, “she will make Wallis Simpson look like a tea party.”

He was talking about the Baltimore divorcée whose love affair with King Edward VIII prompted him to abdicate the British throne. Mrs. Simpson died in 1986, but she remains one of the most hated people in Britain, widely viewed as a grasping, ambitious manipulator.

Anticipation of Sunday’s interview has revived that comparison, with online commentators noting the resemblance of Meghan’s black-and-white Armani dress to one of that rs. Simpson wore in a 1936 portrait.

In fact, as Anne Sebba wrote in her 2011 biography, “That Woman: The Life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor,” the trauma of the abdication secured important new freedoms for members of the royal family, persuading Britons to accept that they had the right to pursue their own personal happiness, even in the face of tradition.

Queen Elizabeth’s family has made good use of that principle: Three of her four children, including the future king, are divorced. Her grandchildren were free to marry as they wished.

As for Mrs. Simpson and the Duke of Windsor, they would spend the rest of their lives trying to recreate the royal life they left behind when he abdicated the throne in 1936, poring over slights and rejections. The Duke’s relationship with his brother, George VI, never recovered. In 1970, the couple gave their own tell-all interview to the BBC.

“We’ve been very happy,” Mrs. Simpson said, and the Duke grabbed her hand, as if to demonstrate. “We have,” he agreed.

James Poniewozik headshot

 

James Poniewozik

Harry joins for the second half of the interview. Having Meghan begin the special solo makes sense from a news and American-TV standpoint — she’s at the center of the controversy, and the American outsider among the royals — but it was also a story-structure decision. This is in a real sense a public drama, and she’s being framed as the protagonist.

Sarah Lyall headshot

 

Sarah Lyall

I just got a text message from one of my own sisters-in-law, and I promised that if I am ever interviewed by Oprah, I will say only nice things about her.

March 7, 2021, 9:24 p.m. ET

March 7, 2021, 9:24 p.m. ET

“They were concerned that if he were too brown, that that would be a problem?” Oprah asked.
Credit…CBS

Oprah seemed genuinely shocked by the revelation: Meghan offering a secondhand account of conversations Harry had had with his family on the subject of their then-unborn first child’s skin tone.

During the two-hour prime-time interview with Oprah that aired on Sunday on CBS, Meghan referred to them as “concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be.”

Harry had been party to “several conversations” with “family” on the topic, said Meghan.

“About how dark your baby is going to be?” asked Oprah.

“Potentially,” said Meghan, “and what that would mean or look like.”

She declined to name anyone on the other side of the conversation: “I think that would be very damaging to them.”

“They were concerned that if he were too brown, that that would be a problem?” Oprah asked.

“I wasn’t able to follow up with why,” said Meghan “but that — if that’s the assumption you’re making, I think that feels like a pretty safe one.”

In 2018, Meghan’s and Harry’s royal wedding with all the trappings (plus some new ones, like a sermon from a Chicago-born Black bishop) was heralded by many as a sign the royal family was tip-toeing toward modernization.

Why, Oprah had asked Meghan, did the royal family express reluctance to eventually grant Archie, the grandson of the future sovereign, the title of “prince”?

“Do you think it’s because of his race?” Oprah asked.

Meghan’s answer left little doubt of her assessment.

Ellen Barry headshot

 

Ellen Barry

Prince Harry says his father stopped taking his calls over his plan to step back from royal life. It’s just remarkable that stories that ran in the British tabloids could have such a direct and devastating effect on the closest of human relationships. The royals all claim they don’t even read the popular press!

Caity Weaver headshot

 

Caity Weaver

For those wondering, it’s currently 2:23 a.m. in London.

Tariro Mzezewa headshot

 

Tariro Mzezewa

Harry and Meghan both seem to be pushing a distinction between the queen and the institution of the royal family, which is another interesting element here.

Meeta Agrawal headshot

 

Meeta Agrawal

Harry has at least one bombshell of his own: that as he and Meghan were talking about the terms on which they would leave their senior royal status, his father, Prince Charles, stopped taking his calls.

Caity Weaver headshot

 

Caity Weaver

Meghan and Harry pushed back on the idea that they had “blindsided” the royal family with their decision to step back as senior members, announced in January 2020. Meghan referred to “two years” of conversations “before we finally announced it” — implying that they were at least discussing it prior to their wedding.

March 7, 2021, 9:16 p.m. ET

March 7, 2021, 9:16 p.m. ET

Prince Harry joined Meghan Markle for the second half of the interview.
Credit…CBS

It was just last month that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced they were expecting their second child, doing so on the anniversary of Princess Diana’s disclosure that she was pregnant with her own second child — Harry.

On Sunday, the couple revealed they the child, due this summer, is a girl.

Their first child, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, was born in May 2019. Late last year, Ms. Markle wrote in an Op-Ed for The New York Times that she had suffered a miscarriage.

The couple first met at Soho House in London in 2016 after a friend set them up on a blind date. They married in 2018 and remained in London until late 2019.

In the first months of their relationship, a network of friends worked to help them keep it private, but eventually the global press found out they were together. Since then, their relationship has been complicated.

Throughout the course of their relationship, the couple has had to endure scrutiny from the news media, particularly in Britain, where they sued the tabloids that revealed letters shared between Ms. Markle and her father ahead of her wedding to Prince Harry.

James Poniewozik headshot

 

James Poniewozik

“It’s a girl.” Unlike other viral gender-reveal videos, the explosions in this one, while huge, have been entirely metaphorical.

James Poniewozik headshot

 

James Poniewozik

We’re now at the halfway point, and Winfrey has already made this worth CBS’s dime. And we shouldn’t forget the skill she brings to this. Yes, she has a subject who wants to talk, but she is doing familiarly deft work following up and getting Meghan to put a finer point on her explosive charges.

March 7, 2021, 9:01 p.m. ET

March 7, 2021, 9:01 p.m. ET

Rumors have been circulating since Meghan became engaged to Prince Harry.
Credit…Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Bracing themselves for Sunday’s interview, the British newspapers have been recycling old complaints — and unveiling some new ones — about the Duchess of Sussex and her supposedly impossible, diva-like behavior back in England.

Rumors of how Meghan readily yelled, sulked, complained and made outrageous demands have been circulating since she became engaged to Prince Harry.

After their wedding, stories emerged about how Meghan had turned into an American bridezilla, shocking royal aides with her demand, for instance, that they douse St. George’s Chapel, the 15th-century church where they got married, with air freshener to alleviate its musty smell.

In the most recent example, The Sunday Times of London reported Sunday that Meghan once “went mental” at a shooting weekend in Sandringham, one of the Queen’s country properties, because the “personally embroidered” blankets she had ordered for her and Harry’s guests arrived in the wrong shade of red.

Ellen Barry headshot

 

Ellen Barry

Defenders of the monarchy often point out that Kate Middleton toughed out the abuse (about class, not race), and wonder why Meghan couldn’t do the same.

Sarah Lyall headshot

 

Sarah Lyall

Meghan is now discussing how relentlessly horrible the tabloids were to her while she was dating Harry. It’s worth pointing out that the tabloids were equally horrible to Kate Middleton in the pre-marriage portion of her relationship with Prince William. In her case, it was over class. They mocked Kate’s mother, who had once worked as a flight attendant, reporting that William’s fancy friends referred to her with phrases like “Doors to manual and cross check.” They called Kate “Waity Katey” and derided her for hanging around all those years without getting engaged.

James Poniewozik headshot

 

James Poniewozik

We’re less than halfway through the special and I can’t count the potential publicity crises for the palace. But at least to an American viewer, that Oprah “WHAT?” response to the “conversations” Meghan said were had about her baby’s race is as memorable (and meme-able) a line as anything so far. Plenty of viewers had to have said it in unison with her.

Ellen Barry headshot

 

Ellen Barry

It seems, from Meghan’s words, that it was someone in the royal family who raised the issue with Harry of the color of their baby’s skin, which is likely to be one of the most damaging takeaways from this interview. She said, “Those were conversations that family had with him.” Winfrey responded, “Whoa.”

Meeta Agrawal headshot

 

Meeta Agrawal

The headlines are flying out of this interview tonight. Meghan is turning seemingly every tabloid story on its head — she didn’t make Kate cry, Kate made her cry; it was the palace that decided not to make Archie a prince; they never even asked Meghan and Harry to take a picture leaving the hospital. This interview is setting a new standard for the tell-all.

Sarah Lyall headshot

 

Sarah Lyall

There’s a difference between “not being given a title” and “not being a prince,” and I am confused as to what Meghan is really saying here about her son, Archie. Some of the queen’s own grandchildren — Harry and William’s cousins — do not currently have the titles of prince and princess.

Ellen Barry headshot

 

Ellen Barry

Meghan won’t name the person who raised the issue of her baby’s skin color to Harry; she said it would be too damaging.

James Poniewozik headshot

 

James Poniewozik

There’s a theme in this interview — which of course presents entirely Meghan’s side — of the control that the royal family exerts over its media image and its members’ voices. (“Were you silent, or were you silenced?” “The latter.”) This interview is the flip side: For a telegenic celebrity family member to speak out is an enormous kind of soft power that the palace has seemed very anxious about (probably with good reason).

Ellen Barry headshot

 

Ellen Barry

Meghan says that palace officials informed her that her child would not have a title, and raised “concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born.” That’s extraordinary.

Ellen Barry headshot

 

Ellen Barry

I think there’s been a lot of anxiety on the royal side about what Meghan would say about race.

James Poniewozik headshot

 

James Poniewozik

Winfrey and CBS promoted this interview as if they felt they had bombshells to drop, and they are coming regularly. The latest — Meghan referring to “conversations” about how dark her baby’s skin would be, before he was born — tees up a commercial break like a cliffhanger on a prime-time potboiler.

March 7, 2021, 8:34 p.m. ET

March 7, 2021, 8:34 p.m. ET

The front pages of London’s Sunday newspapers on Jan. 19, 2020.
Credit…Frank Augstein/Associated Press

Though the split among the royals is often cast as a clash of personalities or family dysfunction, it began as a modern corporate dilemma: How to handle the press?

Prince Harry loathes the British tabloids, which he blames for his mother’s death. His dislike took on a new intensity after he met Meghan Markle, and The Daily Mail ran an article headlined “Harry’s girl is (almost) straight outta Compton: Gang-scarred home of her mother revealed — so will he be dropping by for tea?”

He set about cutting off access to Britain’s conservative, traditional outlets, which were already salivating over the prospect of covering his young family.

To Harry and his media-savvy bride, it made perfect sense to overhaul that arrangement: Like many celebrities, they felt they now had the upper hand. Social media is, slowly but surely, edging out the print press. The Sussexes could release their baby photos over Instagram, rather than trot out their newborn to a ritual maternity-ward press pack.

But other royals disagree.

The British papers often give the royals rough treatment, paying off their school friends to dish dirt or castigating them as lazy, frumpy and self-indulgent. But they are a direct line to the monarchy’s most devoted fan base, and are unafraid to use that power to damage reputations — of individual family members, or of the institution as a whole.

“This is the shattering of a tradition that goes back for decades,” a senior journalist told me in 2019, when Meghan and Harry refused to pose for the traditional photo op with newborn Archie. “There is a price to be paid for that, and the price is mockery.”

On Meghan Markle, a black silk wrap dress by Giorgio Armani with a white lotus flower print. On Prince Harry, a J.Crew Ludlow suit. 
Credit…Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions

So you think the clothes are beside the point in the Oprah-Harry-Meghan tell-all? You think it’s the vocal bombshells and revelations that matter, and no one is going to give two figs what the former royal couple who is uttering them is wearing? You, my friend, should think again. Costumes are always part of the program.

Ever since she first stepped into the spotlight not just as an actress on a pretty successful TV show but as a potential British princess, Meghan Markle has proved herself a master of the visual message.

So whatever she chose for the single-biggest speaking moment of both her career and her marriage thus far — the one that, given the pre-promotion and the public relations warfare being waged by the palace, the Sussexes and the proxies for each, is going to be seen by more people than any other appearance since her wedding — it was not going to be a random, just-because-it’s-comfy schmatta.

It was going to be a dress with purpose. A dress that would set a tone. A dress that would, after all, be seen and re-seen as the photos from the interview went around the world and down in royal history, much as the photos of Princess Diana in her black jacket looking up from under her bangs at Martin Bashir in her 1995 BBC interview still appear whenever the topic of that royal divorce comes up.

And the answer is … a $4,700 black silk wrap dress by Giorgio Armani with a white lotus flower print spilling down one shoulder.

According to Town & Country’s royal whisperer, Ms. Markle chose the dress specifically because of the lotus flower symbolism, and the fact the bloom represents rebirth, which was part of what the interview was also supposed represent: The rebirth of Harry and Meghan as an independent entity, authentically themselves apart from the royal family; the rebirth of their voices. Plus, of course, the coming birth of the couple’s next child. Oh — and also the fact that, wrote T & C, the lotus can “flourish despite seemingly challenging conditions.”

Hint, hint.

Though there is some irony in a very expensive dress being chosen to partly represent the wearer’s victimhood and resilience in the face of pain.

Still, worn belted over her pregnant stomach, with spiky black Aquazzura heels and a diamond Cartier tennis bracelet that was once owned by Princess Diana (chosen so that, the couple told Ms. Winfrey, she could be there with them), it was not exactly your run-of-the-mill maternity look.

Not exactly a “Royals! They’re just like us!” kind of thing. Not even a: “Hey, we’re now in America and we’re going to use all this attention to help an American designer,” kind of thing. Not even an eco-sensitive, or support-the-outsiders kind of thing. (All kinds of things that had been part of Ms. Markle’s public image-making before.)

More of a high glamour, celebrity kind of thing. Armani was the first high fashion designer to ever woo the Hollywood set; the go-to name for stars in search of “style but make it safe,” and for studio execs looking to seem serious but not stuffy. (When asked how he felt about Ms. Markle choosing his dress for the big interview, Mr. Armani emailed, “It’s hard for me to comment about Meghan’s choice seeing it’s a dress from my collection.”)

And that made it also a “this is my choice because now I am free to make my own choices and I don’t have to think about diplomacy or fulfilling the expectations of all the people who have pinned their hopes on me as an agent of change,” kind of thing. (That’s a heavy thing, admittedly.)

It’s the kind of thing that Diana wore too, post-divorce, when she declared independence partly by favoring high-octane European designers. And the kind of thing, perhaps unfortunately, that Wallis Simpson might have worn when she and Edward went into exile; Mrs. Simpson as well seemed to find solace in high fashion.

Still, Prince Harry did not exactly do an Edward. For the interview he was wearing a dove gray J. Crew Ludlow suit — jacket $425; pants, $225 — along with a simple white shirt, unbuttoned at the throat, and no tie. It looked an awful lot like the suit he wore for his first Baby Archie photo-op back in May of 2019, and it ticked all sorts of boxes. Accessible! American! Possibly shopping his closet, which is better for the planet. He may not have realized his clothes contained all that, but his wife probably did.

All in all, a good thing, really.

March 7, 2021, 7:47 p.m. ET

March 7, 2021, 7:47 p.m. ET

Princess Diana being interviewed on the BBC in 1995.
Credit…BBC

It’s impossible to overstate how shocking it is to see a member of the royal family — and Meghan still counts as one, even if she and Harry are royals-in-exile — give a candid, unauthorized television interview, particularly on the topic of how poorly the family has treated her.

Longtime students of the House of Windsor might remember a precedent for tonight’s revelations: the extraordinary interview that Diana, the Princess of Wales, gave to the BBC in 1995. This was after she and her husband, Prince Charles, had separated but not yet divorced. It made for riveting television and infuriated the queen.

In a carefully modulated tone of wounded sorrow, Diana revealed that her marriage had been doomed from the start because “there were three of us” in it — that was a reference to Camilla Parker-Bowles, Charles’s longtime lover, whom he would eventually marry — and that her in-laws had conspired to silence her. In her loneliness, she said, she had turned to self-harm and bulimia (and eventually to lovers of her own).

It was as if she had set fire to Buckingham Palace. She had long surreptitiously leaked details of her unhappy plight to favored tabloid journalists; this was the first time she had taken the bold step of declaring herself publicly. Watching a woman who had been so silent speak out about an institution that commands respect in part because of its mystery — at the time, the British public had never seen anything like it.

March 7, 2021, 7:15 p.m. ET

March 7, 2021, 7:15 p.m. ET

Ella Brockway is throwing a watch party for the event.

It’s going to be teatime tonight at Northwestern University, where Meghan Markle graduated in 2003 and where some of those following in her footsteps at the Evanston, Ill., campus closely track the dramatic twists and turns of her life.

Ella Brockway, 21, was a freshman in 2018 when she gathered with classmates in a dorm lounge to watch Ms. Markle marry Prince Harry. Just imagine: a fellow Wildcat wearing a crown!

Now a senior, Ms. Brockway will bookend her college years by throwing another watch party — this time, for Meghan’s public venting to Oprah Winfrey.

“I have one friend who’s bringing scones from a local bakery, and I was going to go to Whole Foods and peruse their selections for any British-themed food,” she said. To accompany the scones, she has a Royal Wedding tea towel that bears the image of the couple from what now seems a more innocent time.

Alexis Barber, 22, who just graduated, oversaw recruitment at Northwestern’s Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, the same position Markle held during her pre-royalty days as a double major in theater and international studies.

“I was in London when they announced their engagement, which was a crazy coincidence, and I just always felt connected with her because we are both mixed and it was still at the time pretty rare to be Black in Greek life,” said Ms. Barber.

Tonight, she is opting for wine and cheese for the interview.

“This is my Super Bowl,” said Ms. Barber, who intends to take to Instagram during the show to share with friends what she called her Markle obsession. “I just need to know what’s going on.”

March 7, 2021, 6:46 p.m. ET

March 7, 2021, 6:46 p.m. ET

Buckingham Palace announced that it would investigate allegations that the Duchess of Sussex humiliated, undermined and bullied her staff.
Credit…Matt Dunham/Associated Press

When it comes to commenting on internal family matters, the British royal family would usually prefer not to. To the extent that royal press officials reveal anything at all, it is usually in the form of an anodyne news release, a discreet no-comment comment, or an off-the-record whisper in a sympathetic reporter’s ear.

That is why it was so shocking that Buckingham Palace decided to go nuclear last week: It announced that it would investigate allegations that, back in 2018, the Duchess of Sussex had treated members of her staff so badly — humiliating, undermining and bullying them — that two of them had quit.

The charges were outlined in The Times of London, which claimed it had been approached by unnamed sources concerned that the public did not know the entire truth about the Duchess’s rocky tenure as a working member of the royal family.

In response, the palace, said that it has “a dignity at work policy” in place and “does not and will not tolerate bullying or harassment in the workplace.”

Were these allegations publicly aired at this particular time, more than two years after the fact, in order to discredit the Duchess or neutralize her potential complaints before her interview with Oprah?

You be the judge.

March 7, 2021, 6:21 p.m. ET

March 7, 2021, 6:21 p.m. ET

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, in Australia in 2018.
Credit…Pool photo by Phil Noble

Two months after announcing that they would be stepping back from their roles as senior royals, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle relocated to Southern California from Vancouver Island where they had been living since November 2019.

Before settling into their home in Montecito, a secluded and expensive community in Santa Barbara County, last summer, they stayed in a Beverly Hills mansion owned by Tyler Perry. They filed an invasion of privacy lawsuit against tabloid photographers, saying that paparazzi had flown drones over the home to capture images of their son, Archie.

In Montecito, the couple is neighbors with Oprah Winfrey and Markle sent Oprah a Christmas gift basket of Clevr oatmilk superlatte blends. (Markle invested in Clevr last year.)

In a recent interview with James Corden, Harry said he hasn’t had much a chance to see Los Angeles because he, Meghan and Archie have been at home under lockdown. He also said he has been on Zoom calls with his grandparents, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. They’ve also been making a lot of organic waffles with the waffle maker the Queen sent Archie for Christmas.

In September they announced that they’d founded a production company and signed a multiyear deal with Netflix; in December they announced that they inked a deal with Spotify to produce podcast through their organization, Archewell. But this weekend’s Oprah interview is their first major piece of content to be released this year.

Oprah is a neighbor to the couple.
Credit…Rebecca Smeyne for The New York Times

Oprah did this the same way she overcame childhood poverty in rural Mississippi to become the world’s first Black female billionaire: time, effort and a surfeit of natural charisma. In a video clip released on Friday, Oprah recalls that she first called Meghan to propose an interview in “February or March 2018.” According to The Times of London, the two met in person that March when Oprah “found herself in London,” as one does, “and was invited by Meghan to meet her at Kensington Palace,” as one is.

In April, Oprah invited Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, to her home for lunch and yoga. Approximately two months of acquaintance was enough to earn Oprah an invitation to Meghan and Harry’s wedding.

Days after the couple announced their intention to “step back” as senior royals, Oprah released a statement denying rumors she had advised them on a course of action. Meghan and Harry did eventually move so close to Oprah’s estate in Montecito, Calif., that they could be called neighbors, which in fact is how Oprah referred to Meghan in a December Instagram post enthusiastically endorsing a latte brand in which Meghan had recently become an investor.

Credit…Justin Tallis/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

At the beginning of the week, national eyebrows were raised about the timing of the Sussexes trotting out back-to-back televised tell-alls when Prince Philip lay gravely ill in the hospital.

But then came the brazenly pre-emptive bombshell in the form of a Times of London story, which accused the couple of bullying household staff. That was followed by the all-too-familiar spectacle of the same very white, very middle-aged, very male lineup of traditional British media types coming forward to “defend the Royal family’s honor” by attacking a pregnant woman who has been subject to relentless racist smears over the years.

As the Guardian’s Marina Hyde neatly put it: “Alas, no matter how ridiculous anything Meghan and Harry ever do is — and they frequently are ridiculous — it will never, ever be even a hundredth as ridiculous as the behavior of those foaming at the mouth about it.”

Prince Andrew remains exiled from public duties.
Credit…Lillian Suwanrumpha/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

This is not, in fact, the only royal news going on.

Queen Elizabeth’s 99-year-old husband, Prince Philip (Harry’s grandfather), has been hospitalized for more than two weeks.

The queen’s middle son, Prince Andrew, continues to be exiled from public duties years after becoming embroiled in the Jeffrey Epstein alleged sex trafficking controversy. It’s been reported that Andrew, who thus far has declined American officials’ requests to interview him, will not be permitted to join the rest of the royal family on a Buckingham Palace balcony at the queen’s upcoming birthday parade.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Top