A gutsy move. But the right thing to do? The outcome will tell us more.
By Kaz Bosali: Political Columnist
In early March this year, Oprah Winfrey’s highly anticipated interview with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex was screened and it has been in the news since. A few weeks have passed and its commonly described as a “bombshell”, and a bombshell it was indeed.
A lot of topics were discussed: mental health, racism, tabloid stories including Meghan apparently making Kate cry. The record was set straight by the Sussexes; Meghan revealed she had suicidal thoughts and sought help from the institution to no avail and it was Kate that made Meghan cry; Prince Harry revealed his father Prince Charles stopped taking his calls.
In the aftermath of the Oprah interview, it has resulted in a deeper division between the Sussexes and the rest of the royal family. The following are the three after effects of what has been likened to Princess Diana’s infamous Panorama interview in its impact, commentary and scrutiny.
Allegations of racism
Perhaps one of the standout and most damaging claims were the accusations of racism. Markle revealed that there were concerns and conversations on how dark Archie’s skin tone might be. This admission stunned Oprah herself.
Since the interview, Winfrey revealed that it wasn’t the Queen or the Duke of Edinburgh, but she said that the Sussexes wouldn’t reveal who it was. Consequently, there has been a lot of speculation and finger pointing. It’s sparked a debate on social media: is it Prince Charles? Or Prince William? As pointed out by a British morning shows that if this is true, then we could have a ‘racist’ future monarch as the head of the commonwealth.
Was the interview fair?
Markle was an actress before she met Harry, and giving interviews promoting shows was standard and something she’d have been used to. Interviews given by the royal family members are extremely rare, and they adopt a “never complain, never explain” mantra.
Prince Andrew’s disastrous interview with the BBC’s Emily Maitlis where he defended his friendship with convicted sex offender Epstein, was seen as a fair and balanced performance from the interviewer. Maitlis asked hard questions and challenged his answers.
Although the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have not been paid for the interview and didn’t know which questions were going to be asked beforehand, the Sussexes and Winfrey are neighbours and known to be friends. Winfrey was one of the many celebrity guests that attended their 2018 wedding.
Although Winfrey was commended for her rapport and natural chemistry with her royal guests, she didn’t ask them about their private jets when they were advocating for climate change, about the numerous royal household resignations and bullying allegations that have emerged about Meghan. It was criticised as a biased interview to the detriment of the royal family, who generally remain silent in controversies.
Calls to strip them of their titles
They are still using the titles ‘Duke and Duchess of Sussex’ despite not undertaking any public duties. Since the interview, the Daily Mail reported that their popularity was at an all-time low.
What was apparent following the interview was the clear generational gap: the younger generation were more sympathetic to the couple’s admission of their mental health struggles.
They are now content creators for streaming giants Netflix and Spotify, it is highly unlikely that they will shield away from the spotlight or decline to be in the media given the opportunity to promote their material. As former working members of the royal family, their decision to step back had never been done before, so there is no precedent to draw from. In the interview, Meghan Markle herself said, “I don’t know how they could expect that, after all of this time, we would still just be silent if there is an active role that The Firm is playing in perpetuating falsehoods about us”.
There is one thing for certain; the interview with Oprah caused conversations that got the whole world debating and the Sussexes are no longer bound by royal protocol, rules or convention. And they now have a platform to speak their truth and get the world talking for weeks.