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Will Meghan and Harry’s Oprah interview bring down the monarchy?

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A very hungry caterpillar

Mar 15, 2021, 11:47

In a wide-ranging interview aired on Sunday, Harry and Meghan described painful discussions about the colour of their son’s skin, losing royal protection and the intense pressures that led the Duchess of Sussex to contemplate suicide.

The interview with Oprah Winfrey was the couple’s first since they stepped down from royal duties and the two-hour special included numerous revelations.

Harry told Winfrey that he felt trapped by royal life and was surprised that he was cut off financially and lost his security last year. He also said he felt his family did not support Meghan, who acknowledged her naiveties about royal life before marrying Harry, as she endured media attacks and false stories.
Meghan, who is biracial, described that when she was first pregnant with son Archie, there were “concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born”. The statement led Winfrey to ask “What?” incredulously and sit in silence for a moment.
 
Winfrey on Monday sought to clarify that neither the queen nor her husband Philip were part of that conversation about Archie’s skin.
  
Harry would not reveal who had raised the concerns, Winfrey told CBS on Monday, but “he wanted to make sure that I knew and if I had an opportunity to share it that it was not his grandmother nor his grandfather that were a part of those conversations”.
 
Nonetheless, the implications were on Monday only beginning to be felt in the UK. Emily Nash, royal editor at Hello! magazine, said the revelations had left her and many other viewers “shell-shocked”.

“I don’t see how the palace can ignore these allegations, they’re incredibly serious,” she said. “You have the racism allegations. Then you also have the claim that Megan was not supported, and she sought help even from the HR team within the household and was told that she couldn’t seek help.”
 
Anti-monarchy group Republic said the interview gave a clearer picture of life in the royal family.
 
“Whether for the sake of Britain or for the sake of the younger royals this rotten institution needs to go,’’ Graham Smith of the group said. “Some people will say ‘well you would say that,’ but this interview has only served to highlight what a lot of people have known for years: The monarchy is rotten to the core and does not reflect British values.”″

In a rare positive moment in the interview, Harry and Meghan revealed their second would be a girl. The interview opened with Winfrey gushing over Meghan’s pregnancy and lamenting that Covid-19 protocols kept them from hugging.
 
The interview aired Sunday night in the United States, a full day before it will air in Britain. The revelations aren’t over: Winfrey teased additional bits of the interview would be shown on Monday morning on CBS.


In response to a question from Winfrey, Harry said he wouldn’t have left royal life if he hadn’t married Meghan, but that it was their relationship that revealed the strictures of royal life.
 
“I wouldn’t have been able to, because I myself was trapped,” Harry said. “I didn’t see a way out.

“I was trapped, but I didn’t know I was trapped,” Harry said, before adding, “My father and my brother, they are trapped.”
 
Harry acknowledged that he does not have a close relationship presently with his brother William, who is heir to the throne after their father, Prince Charles.
 
The prince disputed rumours that he intentionally blindsided his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, with his decision to split. He suspects the rumours came from the institution.
 
“I’ve never blindsided my grandmother,” he said. “I have too much respect for her.”

Meghan, too, was complimentary toward the queen, despite saying at one point she realised some in the palace were willing to lie to “protect other members of the family.”

“The queen has always been wonderful to me,” Meghan said.

Winfrey at various points in the interview ran through headlines about Meghan and at one point asked about the mental health impact. Meghan responded that she experienced suicidal thoughts and had sought help through the palace’s human resources department, but was told there was nothing they could do.

Meghan said she grew concerned about her son not having a royal title because it meant he wouldn’t be provided security.

Meghan said digesting everything while pregnant was “very hard”. More than the “prince” title, she was the most concerned about her son’s safety and protection.

“He needs to be safe,” a teary-eyed Meghan recalled. “We’re not saying don’t make him a prince or princess, whatever it’s going to be. But if you’re saying the title is going to affect their protection, we haven’t created this monster machine around us in terms of click bait and tabloid fodder. You’ve allowed that to happen, which means our son needs to be safe.”

Meghan said it was hard for her to understand why there were concerns within the royal family about her son’s skin colour. She said it was hard for her to “compartmentalise” those conversations.

The queen’s former press secretary denied there was racism in the royal family and politicians called for an investigation into the duchess of Sussex’s claims.

“I don’t think there’s a strand of racism within the royal household at all,” Charles Anson told the BBC on Monday. “I think it’s much more, not even in the main print and broadcast media, I think such racism that exists tends to be most active on social media and individuals.”

Sunday’s interview special opened with Meghan describing how naive she was about the ground rules of royal life before she married her husband, Harry, nearly three years ago.

“I didn’t fully understand what the job was,” she said. She also noted that she did not know how to curtsy before meeting Queen Elizabeth for the first time, and didn’t realise it would be necessary.
 
“I will say I went into it naively because I didn’t grow up knowing much about the royal family,” Meghan said. “It wasn’t something that was part of conversation at home. It wasn’t something that we followed.”
Meghan said she and Harry were aligned during their courtship because of their “cause-driven” work. But she did not fully comprehend the pressure of being linked to the prestigious royal family.

“It’s easy to have an image of it that is so far from reality,” she said. “And that’s what was really tricky over those past few years, is when the perception and the reality are two very different things. And you’re being judged on the perception, but you’re living the reality of it. There’s a complete misalignment and there’s no way to explain that to people.”


Meghan also said that the Duchess of Cambridge made her cry ahead of her wedding.

Reports circulated ahead of the Sussexes’ nuptials that Meghan left Kate in tears at Princess Charlotte’s bridesmaid dress fitting. But Meghan told Winfrey the “reverse happened”.

Meghan said she was not sharing the information to be “disparaging,” but added it was “really important for people to understand the truth”.
“She’s a good person,” the duchess added.

Meghan said Kate was “upset about some things and she owned it and apologised” and sent flowers.

At the top of the interview, Winfrey ran through several key points: that the production was following strict Covid-19 protocols, no topic was off limits and that Meghan and Harry were not being paid for the special.
 
Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan on their wedding day. File photo: AFP
Royal interviews that aren’t tied to a specific topic are rare, and prior televised sessions have often proved problematic. Prince Andrew’s 2019 BBC interview
 about his links with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein led to his own departure from royal duties after he failed to show empathy for Epstein’s victims.

Harry and Meghan’s departure from royal duties began in March 2020 over what they described as the intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media toward the duchess.

In Britain, the interview is seen as poorly timed. It will air while Harry’s 99-year-old grandfather Prince Philip remains hospitalised in London
 after undergoing a heart procedure.

It is unclear what public reaction, if any, the queen and other royal family members will have to Sunday’s interview. The UK’s Sunday Times newspaper, citing an anonymous source, reported that the queen would not watch it.
On Wednesday, the palace said it was launching a human resources investigation after a London newspaper reported that a former aide had accused Meghan of bullying staff in 2018.

A spokesman for the duchess said she was “saddened by the latest attack on her character, particularly as someone who has been the target of bullying herself”.

Meghan wears US$4,700 Armani dress for Oprah Winfrey interview
Meghan, who is pregnant with the couple’s second child, wore an empire-style black dress with embroidery. Harry wore a light grey suit and white dress shirt, minus a tie.

As Meghan Markle, the actor starred in the TV legal drama Suits. She married Harry at Windsor Castle in May 2018 and became Duchess of Sussex. Their son, Archie, was born a year later.

Harry and Meghan’s departure from royal life was supposed to be reviewed after a year. On February 19, Buckingham Palace confirmed that the couple would not return to royal duties and Harry would relinquish his honorary military titles – a decision that made formal, and final, the couple’s split from the royal family.

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