Photo credit: BBC, modified by Samantha Milewicz
Article by Samantha Milewicz
It was a shock to the world when in early 2020, Meghan and Harry, Duke and Duchess of Sussex, announced that on March 31, they would be stepping down as senior royal members. However stupefying this announcement was, it is now clear that this was a long time coming, and not a surprise to the couple. All was revealed in March when they sat down for a two-hour interview special with Oprah. In this article, I am going to break down the many topics they addressed, the response from the royal family, and the implications of their open interview.
During their sit down with Oprah, the ex-royals opened up about several issues they faced as members of the royal family, most notably lack of protection, feeling trapped, and most shockingly, racism. The interview started off with a conversation between just Meghan and Oprah. During this time, Meghan disclosed information regarding her treatment from the tabloids as well as the pain she endured during her pregnancy. Meghan explained that despite the monarch having some control over the media, they failed to protect her against a negative narrative. In fact, she shared the truth of the scandal from a few years back before her wedding day. The tabloids told the story that Meghan had made her sister-in-law cry over a bridesmaid’s dress days before the royal wedding; however, the truth is that it was actually Kate who made Meghan cry. Despite these false claims that pitted the media against Meghan, the institution failed to set the story straight. In addition to failing to protect Meghan against the tabloids, the institution also prevented her from seeking the help she needed. In the interview, Meghan divulged that during her pregnancy, she had suicidal thoughts so severe that she “just didn’t want to be alive anymore.” Even so, Meghan was denied the help she was seeking because it wouldn’t “look good” for the institution of monarchy.
Later on in the interview when Harry joined, an earlier conversation between Meghan and Oprah was brought up. While Meghan and Oprah were talking, Meghan revealed that before Archie, their son, was born, there was question of how dark his skin would be. When Harry joined the conversation, Oprah asked for more details about this, but Harry responded “That conversation, I’m never going to share. But at the time, at the time, it was awkward. I was a bit shocked.” Although Harry declined to answer what the original question was, he did disclose that this happened at the beginning of his and Meghan’s relationship. For this reason, there are discrepancies between his and Meghan’s narrative. Nevertheless, this accusation was significantly damaging to the royal image.
With accusations of such a high degree, it was important that the royal family strategically respond. On March 9, the queen issued a statement: “The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan. The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning. While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately.” Her response that the seeds of doubt raised by the interview will be investigated is reassuring, but it is far-fetched to believe her words can make full amends. In fact, Prince William likely made matters worse when he responded to a reporter while walking by, saying that the royals are “very much not a racist family.” Some even suspect it was Prince William who raised the questions of race based on the tension described by Harry concerning his relationship with his brother. Additionally, before his passing two weeks ago, Prince Phillip revealed to a close confidant that he thought the interview was “madness.” It is clear that through the response of each royal family member, the information shared in the Meghan-Harry-Oprah interview was tarnishing to their image in the public eye.
Though it was a bold one, Harry and Meghan’s decision to “expose” the monarchy has led viewers and readers to new conclusions about the royal family. This new perspective revealed in the interview will surely be one for the history books.