Meghan and Harry’s appearance on ITV in conversation with Oprah Winfrey has brought to head the tragic rift between the Royal family. Royal Interviews always seem to grab the nation’s attention but never seem to be a resounding success for those involved. If you were expecting a light-hearted catch-up among friends in sunny California on Sunday evening, when watching Oprah’s interview with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, you were sadly very mistaken. No stone was left unturned. Mental health, racism, the media, issues of security and the conduct of Royal Family were all discussed during the two hours marathon. The media frenzy that followed was near impossible to miss.
The two-hour, primetime special on CBS has sent shockwaves throughout the nation and has seen the emergence of two opposing camps: pro-Monarchy vs pro-Meghan. A recent YouGov poll suggests this split is remarkably equal – 32% by 32% on whether Prince Harry and Meghan were treated fairly or unfairly by the Royal Family.
In what was a startling barrage of claims against the Royal Family stemming from Meghan’s experience living in England throughout her highly public courtship with Harry, Meghan took the opportunity to tell her side of the story. The most shocking claim was centred around conversations Harry had with members of ‘The Firm’. The topic of these discussions was the colour of the skin of their soon to be born son, Archie, and how there were concerns over how dark he would be. Oprah could not hide her glaring disdain at what she was hearing.
11 million Britons tuned in to the ITV repeat on Monday evening and although the nation remains undecided, what is for certain is that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have no intention of returning to the Royal Family. Throughout the interview, the pair made claims that Royal life was “damaging”, and Harry even claimed that his father, Charles, Prince of Wales and his brother William, Duke of Cambridge were “trapped”.
The Royal Family is facing its biggest crisis since the Jeffrey Epstein scandal involving Prince Andrew. The queen just this evening responded and acknowledged the worrying accusation of racism within the institution but was careful to emphasis that the investigation and consequences would be handled within the family, privately. The palace clearly recognises how fragile the situation is and has momentarily departed from its longstanding tradition of maintaining no comment. Meanwhile, Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh, remains in hospital, and by all accounts is very unwell.
The timing of Harry and Meghan’s interview has been a talking point. Pro-monarchy fans maintain that for Harry to participate in this extensive interview while his 99-year-old grandfather is sick in hospital perhaps shows how far he has fallen out of touch with his family.
What was particularly striking were the underlying tones of Diana’s history that Harry kept referring to. He sees what is happening to Meghan as repeat of what his mother, Diana, went through all those year ago. It should be remembered however, that Diana was vastly more popular with the British public than Meghan is. His concern is understandably grounded in the horrific memories of a grief-stricken childhood, and a sense of loss which has undoubtedly clung on to him.
The allegations that Meghan has aimed at the Royal Family cry out for a thorough and pertinent investigation. The thought that the Duchess of Sussex was experiencing “clear” suicidal thoughts has struck right through the conscience of the public.
Yet these declarations of Meghan being a victim of the Royal Family are still met with criticism from some of the British public. Being a victim of some form of prejudice in today’s society seems to be coming increasingly common. Interestingly, the polls have shown that older members of the public are more likely to lack in sympathy for Meghan. Certain pundits have argued that there now exists a cycle where the more someone feels like a victim, the more credit they seem to get in society. For someone with an estimated net-worth of $2.2 million, the constant claim of being a victim, for many people, falls on deaf ears. But, for someone who claims to have reached out for help with mental health issues in an hour of extreme darkness and been refused, is a relatable and terrible thing. The two-sided story becomes a complex battle with one’s conscience. However, Meghan and Harry have an army of fans. Hillary Clinton, former US Secretary of State supported her friend Meghan by saying “This young woman was not about to keep her head down, you know, this is 2021.” Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has issued a warning by insisting that the claims be taken “very seriously”.
This is unlikely to be the end of the story. Whether you are for or against Meghan, it is clear that she is hurting. Harry has gone through an immense amount of loss in his life, and he is afraid history will repeat itself. It remains to be seen how the Royal Family will get through this, but as ever, it will, somehow. As for the Queen, Her Majesty has faced far worse in her time, but these revelations will surely hurt on a deeply personal level.