A year after their separation from the British royal family, great anticipation reigns to know the secrets that Prince Harry and his wife Megan may reveal in their anticipated interview with the most famous American media, Oprah Winfrey, whose repercussions may be great on the royal family.
It is expected that the 39-year-old former American actress, the wife of Queen Elizabeth II’s grandson, will recall, during the two-hour interview, the most prominent stations of her relationship with the royal family and the British press and how to deal with her.
Viewers were brought into the debate after CBS broadcast excerpts from the interview in which the Duchess of Sussex accuses Buckingham Palace of “spreading lies” about the couple’s decision in early 2020 to withdraw from the royal family to reside in California.
In the short excerpts shown Friday, Oprah Winfrey said she requested an interview with Megan Markle even before her marriage to Harry in 2018, but the former actress “kindly refused” at the time.
“I remember this conversation very well. I wasn’t even allowed to have it personally with you, was I? The media officials (at Buckingham Palace) should have been present,” Megan commented.
“I couldn’t have said yes at the time. It was not up to me to choose,” she added. And she continued, “It is now possible for us to make our own choices.”
“You feel liberated when you can have the right and the privilege of being able to say, ‘Yes, I’m ready to talk,” she said.
These statements, filmed a few weeks ago, were published a few hours after the royal palace announced an investigation into British press information about harassment by Megan Markle against palace employees while she was living in London. This decision is unusual for an institution not accustomed to resolving its disputes in public, as it indicates a crisis unprecedented since Princess Diana.
An expert on British royal family affairs, Richard Fitzolliams, told AFP that the interview “would cause almost certain embarrassment to the royal family,” saying that Harry and Meghan “did not show great insight” by not informing the royal family.
Fitzolliams pointed out that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will undoubtedly attack the British press, which was not kind to them. But any dealing with “personal” issues and “criticizing other members of the royal family will determine the shape of relations in the future” and foretells a final break in the already distant relationship between the two parties.
A history of “catastrophic” interviews
The British royal family has long been alarmed by the public revelations.
Richard Fitzolliamus recalled that the few lengthy interviews conducted by members of the royal family all ended in “disaster”.
Harry’s father, Prince Charles, got into trouble when he confessed in 1994 to having an extramarital affair.
The following year, Princess Diana gave a resounding BBC interview in which she spoke at length about her marital problems in front of some 23 million viewers.
In recent years, Prince Andrew, the son of Queen Elizabeth, was forced in 2019 to retire from the scene in the royal family after he defended on television his friend, billionaire Prince Jeffrey Epstein, who committed suicide in prison after being accused of sexually exploiting minors, without showing any sympathy for the victims.
Omid Scobey, co-author of the biography of the duo Harry and Megan entitled “Finding Freedom”, ruled out that the Sunday interview would change people’s opinions after “the majority of Britons chose their camp.”
But he noted that the interview might lead “at least to enlighten the public a little bit” about the duo’s decision to withdraw from the royal family.
“This will be an occasion for them to tell their version of the story, as it seems fair that they have two hours to tell what happened after the journalists spent the last three years talking about the topic,” he said.
Harry, 36, who is sixth in line to the throne, has repeatedly accused the British press of contributing to the death of his mother in 1997. In excerpts shown by CBS, he made it clear that he left Britain for good, fearing that “history will repeat itself.”
However, the timing chosen by Harry and Megan for the interview is not ideal, as the dialogue, which was filmed in a luxurious villa in Santa Barbara, is broadcast in conjunction with a rare television appearance of the Queen on Commonwealth Day.
The interview also comes after Prince Philip, Prince Harry’s 99-year-old grandfather, underwent heart surgery after three weeks in hospital.
Richard Fitzouliams said it was “more appropriate” for Harry and Megan to ask their friend Oprah Winfrey, who attended their wedding, to delay the episode.
“It is bad timing,” said Benny Junor, an expert on royal family affairs, but added, “Will there be any ideal timing? (…) I’m not sure.”