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A Raw Look Behind Palace Doors as Meghan and Harry Meet With Oprah: Highlights

Oprah Winfrey’s highly anticipated two-hour interview with Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, aired on CBS on Sunday night.
Credit…Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A year after Meghan Markle married Prince Harry in a fairy-tale wedding, she said in an extraordinary interview broadcast on Sunday night, her life as a member of the British royal family had become so emotionally desolate that she contemplated suicide.

At another point, members of the family told Harry and Meghan, a biracial former actress from the United States, that they did not want the couple’s unborn child, Archie, to be a prince or princess, and expressed concerns about how dark the color of the baby’s skin would be.

An emotional but self-possessed Meghan said of her suicidal thoughts: “I was ashamed to have to admit it to Harry. I knew that if I didn’t say it, I would do it. I just didn’t want to be alive anymore.”

Meghan, 39, made the disclosures in an eagerly anticipated, and at times incendiary, interview on CBS with Oprah Winfrey that aired in the United States in prime time. In describing a royal life that began as a fairy tale but quickly turned suffocating and cruel, Meghan’s blunt answers raised the combustible issues of race and privilege in the most rarefied echelon of British society.

Here are the main takeaways from the interview.

Prince Harry joined his wife, Meghan, for the latter part of the interview with Oprah Winfrey.
Credit…CBS

Among the tabloid narratives about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s relationship, she has at times been depicted as a villain who changed him, created a rift between him and his family and, most recently, took him away from them.

On Sunday, viewers were able to hear Harry’s perspective directly. The prince said that although he believed he would not have stepped back from royal life if he had not met Meghan, he also could not have done it without her. Despite his life of privilege, Harry said, he felt trapped and “didn’t see a way out.”

“Without question she saved me,” he said.

Harry alluded to strained relations with his father, Prince Charles, and his older brother, Prince William, both of whom he also described as “trapped” in their roles. Earlier in the interview, Harry said his father had stopped taking his calls while he and Meghan were discussing how to step back from royal life. Harry later said Charles was now taking his calls again, but that “there’s a lot to work through there.”

“I feel really let down, because he’s been through something similar,” Harry said, referring to the way the news media had hounded his mother, Princess Diana.

William was not often mentioned in the interview, and Harry did not say much about where he and his brother stand.

“The relationship is space, at the moment,” he said.

As for his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, Harry said they have a “really good relationship” and have spoken more in the past year than they have in a long time.

Oprah Winfrey interviewing Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle.
Credit…CBS

For viewers to come together in this age and in this economy for television at an appointed time — interrupted by commercials even! — requires a high bar.

The ratings aren’t in, but tonight many watchers were reminded of the skill, empathy and just all-around mastery of communication and focus of Oprah Winfrey as interviewer. Even if it was all showbiz, even it was all an act, for viewers it felt engrossing and moving.

Ms. Winfrey, of course, was one of the creators of interview television when she wasn’t busy winning Tonys, Peabodys and getting Oscar nominations. “The Oprah Winfrey Show” began in 1986 and concluded, 25 seasons later, with more than 5,000 episodes, in 2011. She has said she has interviewed 37,000 people.

It was 1993 when Ms. Winfrey interviewed Michael Jackson in an event that stopped people in their tracks. (Prince Harry was not yet a teenager.) It was at the time the most-watched televised interview in history, with tens of millions of people tuning in. (The New York Times reported 62 million viewers; Ms. Winfrey claimed 90 million worldwide.)

In 2019, she revisited the Jackson situation, interviewing the two subjects of the documentary “Leaving Neverland,” who accused the singer of sexually abusing them when they were children.

Journalists on Twitter paid tribute to the techniques Ms. Winfrey used in the interview, which was simultaneously intimate and charged, kind but firm. The power of her attention is riveting.

Behind the scenes, nearly every interview ends the same way, Ms. Winfrey said in a recent interview herself. The participant, no matter how wealthy or famous, asks: “Was that OK? How was that? How did I do?”

England will have to wait until Monday night to watch the Meghan and Harry interview.
Credit…CBS

The two-hour interview conducted by Oprah Winfrey with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle aired first on the East Coast on Sunday night.

Now, it’s the West Coast’s turn to enjoy the beautiful Santa-Barbara-adjacent setting and two hours of frank conversation. Here’s how you can watch:

  • You can also sign into a CBS app on your Apple TV or Roku, if you are a cable customer and can sign in with the cable provider’s credentials.

  • Here’s one way lots of people have successfully reported watching it: the new Paramount+ streaming service. It has a free one-month trial! That you can activate right now! Perhaps, arriving for Oprah, you will be tempted by the other offerings. Or perhaps you will cancel.

  • YouTubeTV subscribers, and subscribers to full packages like Hulu+ Live TV, should be able to watch through CBS directly as well.

And then! For once, England is getting the royal news last. The interview will be broadcast on ITV in Britain on Monday at 9 p.m.

The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, rarely says anything publicly.
Credit…Pool photo by Samir Hussein

Early on, Oprah dived straight into the vexing question of Meghan’s relationship with Kate Middleton, her sister-in-law, the current darling of the British news media.

But it was not always that way. Kate, who is the Duchess of Cambridge, had a rough time with the tabloids when she was dating Prince William.

They derided her mother for having worked as a flight attendant; sneered at her family for being “in trade”; and mocked her as “Waity Katey” for hanging around the prince for years, hoping (as they positioned it) to get engaged.

But once she and William were married in 2011 — and especially after Meghan arrived on the scene and could be cast as the villain to Kate’s heroine — Kate could not seem to do any wrong in the eyes of the tabloid-reading British public.

Kate has avoided criticism in part by following the classic model of the royal wife: She has mostly kept silent and “done her duty,” while refraining from showing signs of fatigue or annoyance, no matter how wearying or stifling her role might be.

Meeta Agrawal headshot

Meeta Agrawal

We’re ending the interview by returning to the tropes — she saved him, he saved her, their fairy tale has a happy ending. The next chapter in this story for the royal family, however, is likely to be very different. Tonight’s revelations will reverberate in the British tabloids for days, weeks, eons to come. It seems hard to imagine that the palace will be able to stay silent.

Tariro Mzezewa headshot

Tariro Mzezewa

We’ve heard and read so much over the past couple of years about how Meghan was this villain who took Harry from his life. So it’s quite touching to hear both of them say that she “saved” him.

Sarah Lyall headshot

Sarah Lyall

Harry says “I’m proud of us”; Meghan says their story is bigger than any fairy tale.

Meghan Markle and her mother, Doria Ragland, arriving for her wedding ceremony to marry Prince Harry in 2018.
Credit…Oli Scarff/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

One of the reasons this interview will be so damaging is that Prince Harry’s marriage to a biracial woman really meant something to Black and mixed-race Britons.

In 2018, I interviewed Tshego Lengolo, an 11-year-old Black girl from southeast London who looked at Meghan and saw a version of herself, trying to find a place for herself among its racial codes. She bristled at criticism of the new duchess. She took it very personally. And she was overjoyed at the notion of a mixed-race prince or princess. “There is nothing that racist people can do about it,” she told me happily. “They might as well get used to it.”

I hate to think of how Tshego will react to this interview.

That spring I remember walking around Black London neighborhoods that were tuning into the royal soap opera for the first time, with hope and a bit of apprehension.

“It’s a big deal that they’re allowing it,” an office manager told me. “Maybe they’re allowing it in the hope that it doesn’t work, so they can say, ‘well, we let it happen, and this is what came of it.”

Britain remains 87 percent white, but the number of Britons identifying themselves as mixed-race has been growing fast, and may already make up the largest single minority group in the country. In the 1990s, when many Britons were questioning the value of the monarchy, research showed that those doubts were strongest among the young and racial minority groups, parts of the population not represented by the institution.

James Poniewozik headshot

James Poniewozik

It strikes me that, on one level, Winfrey is really conducting an exit interview — beyond all the juicy details, this is a chance to get the story of two insiders who got away from one of the world’s most unusual, mysterious and controlling institutions.

Sarah Lyall headshot

Sarah Lyall

The Daily Mail website, which both drives and reflects opinion in Middle England, is already teeming with articles about the interview. The newspaper is no friend to the couple. Here is one headline: “Back to Basics at their $14.5 Million Mansion!”

James Poniewozik headshot

James Poniewozik

Winfrey raises the question of the couple’s lucrative streaming deals, and whether they’re trading one form of unimaginable wealth for another. It’s another way in which she’s the one figure made to do this interview — she’s both the global celebrity who can speak to Meghan and Harry as peers, and the talk-show pro who can be a surrogate for a non-celebrity audience.

Ms. Markle described seeking help with persistent suicidal thoughts.
Credit…CBS

In an emotional and arresting disclosure, Meghan Markle described approaching Prince Harry and the royal family and seeking help with persistent suicidal thoughts during her pregnancy, after months of bullying from the press and being barred from leaving the house.

“I just didn’t want to be alive anymore,” she said. “And that was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought. And I remember — I remember how he just cradled me.”

Meghan said she later asked a senior royal about the possibility of seeking inpatient care, and was told that would not be possible because it “wouldn’t be good for the institution.”

And that was that.

Meghan had surrendered her keys, driver’s license and passport upon joining the family. “I couldn’t, you know, call an Uber to the palace,” she said.

On one occasion in 2018, Meghan said, she attended an official event at the Royal Albert Hall against Harry’s advice because she feared what she might do to herself if she were left alone. She sobbed in the royal box of the concert hall, smiling and posing for photographs when the lights were turned on.

Meghan described being scared by thoughts “in the middle of the night that are very clear,” and said: “This isn’t some abstract idea. This is methodical, and this is not who I am.”

Harry has spoken out about his own struggles with mental health issues, describing years of panic attacks in a 2017 interview with a podcast made by The Telegraph. He came “very close to total breakdown on numerous occasions, when all sorts of grief and lies and misconceptions are coming to you from every angle,” he said.

In 2019, he and Oprah announced a documentary about “mental illness and mental wellness,” which is to air on Apple TV+ later this year.

Harry later said mental health had played a key role in his decision to redefine his role in the family.

“It’s really sad that it’s gotten to this point, but I’ve got to do something for my own mental health, my wife’s, and for Archie’s, as well, because I could see where this was headed,” he said.

If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of additional resources.

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.)

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.

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.

Queen Elizabeth II signs her annual Commonwealth Day Message in St. George’s Hall at Windsor Castle.
Credit…Pool Photo by Steve Parsons

Queen Elizabeth II praised people throughout the Commonwealth for uniting during the pandemic in upbeat televised remarks on Sunday.

“We have all continued to appreciate the support, breadth of experiences and knowledge that working together brings, and I hope we shall maintain this renewed sense of closeness and community,” the queen said.

Calling the pandemic “a time like no other,” she also commended “remarkable advances in developing new vaccines and treatments” and frontline health care workers for their “selfless dedication to duty,” Reuters reported.

The speech was broadcast on Sunday for Commonwealth Day, a celebration of countries largely from the former British Empire that continue to maintain ties with Britain.

The queen’s remarks came just hours before a highly anticipated televised appearance of her grandson Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, with Oprah Winfrey on Sunday night. Relations between the couple and the royal family have been strained since the duke and duchess announced they would step back from their official duties and move to North America.

The annual Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey in London, which the royal family typically attends, was canceled this year because of the pandemic.

After a highly contagious variant ravaged Britain over the winter and the country tightened restrictions, confirmed cases in Britain have steadily ticked down, according to a New York Times database.

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.

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.

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.

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 Mrs. 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.

“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.”

Shortly after Harry’s entry into the televised conversation, Oprah asked him about what had been said.

“That conversation I’m never going to share,” Harry said. “At the time, it was awkward. I was a bit shocked.”

“Can you tell us what the question was?” Oprah asked.

“No,” said Harry. “I’m not comfortable with sharing that.”

He went on to say that the subject of future children’s appearance was raised even before their wedding.

“There were some real obvious signs before we even got married that this was going to be really hard.”

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.

Elsewhere in the interview, Harry identified missed “opportunities for my family to show some public support” of Meghan in the face of racist coverage. He mentioned an open letter, signed by 72 women in Britain’s Parliament, condemning the “outdated, colonial undertones” in newspaper coverage of Meghan.

“Yet no one from my family ever said anything over those three years,” he said. “And that — that hurts. But I also am acutely aware of where my family stand and how scared they are of the tabloids turning on them.”

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.

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.

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.

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 also 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.

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.”



New York Times



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