Megan and Harry on Oprah: A Royal Roast

“Greater than any fairytale you’ve read”. That’s how Meghan chose to end her and Prince Harry’s ‘no-subject-off-limits’ interview with Oprah. Her husband, “saved all of us”, she said. “We’ve not just survived, but we’re thriving.”

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“Greater than any fairytale you’ve read”. That’s how Meghan chose to end her and Prince Harry’s ‘no-subject-off-limits’ interview with Oprah. Her husband, “saved all of us”, she said. “We’ve not just survived, but we’re thriving.”

Prince Harry, like his mother, campaigned against landmines. But one thing we can all agree on is that their revelations were explosive. The questions raised have divided national opinion. And a family. From the heir to the throne not taking his son’s calls, to speculation about the colour of their baby Archie’s skin, and Meghan’s unanswered pleas for help, each one was fierier than the last. 

Theirs was a love story that should have proved an asset to the Royal Family. So, what went wrong?

The tabloids, it seems, played a big part. The early stages of their relationship were kept largely out of the public glare. However, in November 2016 Harry issued a public statement due to the tabloid treatment his girlfriend had received, which he described as, “a wave of abuse and harassment”, “outright sexism and racism”, and “bombardment” of her loved ones. His final plea: “This is not a game; it is her life and his”. We didn’t know it at the time, but this was a stark warning.

By November 2017 they were engaged. The sweet, understated proposal – Harry got down on one knee one evening while they roasted chicken – and the nuptials that followed in May 2018 seemed like a fairytale. "You couldn’t be in that chapel, or even watching from afar, and not feel the power of love", Oprah said at the time.

However, Meghan undoubtedly received unfavourable press, especially when compared to Kate Middleton. Meghan described the coverage as perpetuating a ‘hero and villain’ narrative. During her pregnancy for example, Kate was commended for ‘tenderly’ cradling her bump; Meghan was chastised. It was acceptable when Kate was gifted an avocado as a morning sickness cure, but Meghan eating avocado on toast was linked to droughts and environmental devastation in its country of origin, Mexico. “That’s a loaded piece of toast”, she joked.

Oprah asked her directly about a story in which she reportedly made Kate cry about flower girl dresses. In fact, the opposite was true. The press was wrong, but the family did nothing to negate it. Ask any woman who has been involved in the planning of a wedding; tensions get frayed.  The public should not care who made whom cry. It’s inconsequential. However, the real issue Meghan said was that she believed she would “be protected”, but ultimately was not. They were “willing to lie to protect each other”. Everyone was told to say, “no comment”, she said. In the end she compared herself to Disney’s Little Mermaid, as someone who’d lost her voice.

The Duchess said it became “almost unsurvivable”. In a shocking expose, Meghan admitted to having suicidal thoughts which were, “very clear and very real … I just didn’t see a solution”. Help was sought from senior people in the institution only to be rebuffed and told that it wouldn’t look good.

This prompted Harry to state that, “lack of support and understanding” ultimately led them to stepping back from their royal duties in early 2020. He described to James Corden how the tabloid press was “toxic” and “destroying [his] mental health”. 

It was during an interview with Tom Bradby on their South Africa tour, in which he asked if she was okay, that Meghan first hinted at trouble. “Thank you for asking”, she said. “Because not many people have asked if I am okay”. 

Then came the issue of race. Conversations had been held with Harry over how dark their baby’s skin might be, and what that would mean and look like, prompting Oprah to ask, “who is having that conversation?” They kept this private because it would be “very damaging” to the person involved. Arguably though, the damage is done.

Talk turned to titles and security, of which Archie was to receive neither. This could however be explained by the George V Convention, in which a letter written in 1917 states that only monarch’s grandchildren who are in direct line to the throne receive HRH titles.

There is feeling though that the Palace’s hastily issued statement saying that the issue of race was “concerning” and that “some recollections may vary”, does not go far enough to refute their claims.

Harry also referred to his own security being taken away which he hadn’t foreseen. It is doubtful however, given his huge inheritance, there will be sympathy towards that outcome.

Whilst the issues raised are of course concerning, I can’t help but wonder, what their motivations were for this interview. They were granted their wish of ‘stepping back’ from senior royal duties and fled the UK for a quieter life, where they are now free to raise chickens in their garden. Therefore, was broadcasting their ‘truth’ to 55 million people really going to mend a family rift?

It is sad that Harry admitted he felt “trapped”, that his relationship with his brother is now “space”, and that there is a lot of hurt to work through with his father. I just can’t help but feel that this was a royal roast.

If the Oprah interview has proved anything, it is that just like in a Disney fairytale, there is often a much darker story lurking beneath the surface. 
 

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