Prime time special: Bombshell after bombshell about life inside the royal family
By the time the sun rises in the UK on Monday, the public will have a new perspective from Harry and Meghan, the former senior royals, on the machinations of the palace. This week has already seen a frenzy of stories citing unnamed sources and royal commentators but the Palace has adhered to its usual protocol of silence in the face of the speculative reporting surrounding the broadcast. It did, however, announce Wednesday it would investigate allegations that Meghan bullied members of staff, claims made anonymously in a British newspaper that the Sussexes' spokesperson dismissed as "a calculated smear campaign."
But the royals likely know from history the impact the televised spectacle could have. The palace encounters a bombshell TV tell-all roughly once a generation; a 1970 interview with the abdicated King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson posed problems for the Palace, 25 years before Princess Diana's "Panorama" confessional was watched by tens of millions in Britain.
Meghan's one regret: "Believing them when they said I would be protected"
When Oprah Winfrey asked if Harry and Meghan had any regrets, they had slightly different answers.
"No," Harry replied. "I'm really proud of us. I'm so proud of my wife. She safely delivered Archie during a period of time that was so cruel and so mean. Every day I was coming home to Meghan crying and breast feeding Archie ... We did what we had to do."
Meghan chimed in that she had one regret: "believing them when they said I would be protected."
That was a false promise, but "I wasn't supposed to see it, I wasn't supposed to know it," she said. "And now, because we're actually on the other side, we've actually not just survived but (are) thriving ... it's a miracle."
Meghan wears Princess Diana's diamond bracelet during Oprah interview
Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, appeared to pay tribute to Princess Diana by wearing a piece of her jewelry during the interview with Oprah Winfrey.
Reportedly by French luxury brand Cartier, the item was worn in public by Harry's mother, Diana, several times prior to her death.
Harry is thought to have taken stones from the very same bracelet to produce the engagement ring he proposed to Megan with in 2017.
It's not the first time that Meghan has worn the bracelet, having appeared to have done so at a royal tour in 2018. She also wore a ring owned by Harry's mother before her wedding reception.
The topic of jewelry came up in the much-anticipated interview, with Meghan revealing that the Queen had given her a gift of pearl earrings and a matching necklace on their first joint engagement.
The royal family cut Harry off financially in the first quarter of 2020
Prince Harry revealed that the royal family cut him off after he and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, announced that they would be stepping back from official royal duties.
The couple's recent deals with Netflix and Spotify were "never part of the plan" when they split from the family, he said. However, it happened after they were cut off from the family financially.
They initially relied on what Princess Diana had left for Harry.
"I've got all my mum left me. And without that, we would not have been able to do this," he said. "She saw it coming and I certainly felt her presence throughout this whole process."
Harry: "I am never going to share" conversation with royal family about Archie's race
Oprah Winfrey asked Prince Harry about the conversations he'd had with the royal family about Archie when Meghan was pregnant with him -- and about concerns surrounding his race.
"That conversation, I am never going to share," Harry said. "At the time, it was awkward, I was a bit shocked."
When Winfrey asked if he could share the questions posed during the conversation, he declined, saying "I'm not comfortable with sharing that."
"But it was right at the beginning," he added. "What will the kids look like? That was at the beginning when she wasn't going to get security, when my family suggested that she might continue acting (because there wasn't going to be money for her)."
Winfrey then asked: If you had had more support, would you still be there? "Without question," Harry responded. But "I know and I'm comfortable in knowing that we did everything we could to make it work."
Diana would feel "angry" says Harry of how things have turned out
Prince Harry told Oprah Winfrey that his mother, Princess Diana, would have been "very sad" about the couple's decision to step back from the royal family.
"I think she would feel very angry with how this has panned out, and very sad. But ultimately, all she'd ever want is for us to be happy," Harry said.
"I think she saw it coming. I certainly felt her presence throughout this whole process. I'm just really relieved and happy to be sitting here talking to you with my wife by my side," he said. "Because I can't begin to imagine what it must have been like for her, going through this process by herself all those years ago."
"It has been unbelievably tough for the two of us, but at least we had each other," he said, sitting next to Meghan in an outdoor set.
Royal family never challenged the "colonial undertones" in the media's coverage of Meghan, Harry says
Prince Harry said the royal family missed several opportunities to support Meghan and call the British press out on its negative coverage of the Duchess of Sussex.
"For us, for this union and the specifics around her race, there was an opportunity -- many opportunities -- for my family to show some public support. And I guess one of the most telling parts and the saddest parts, I guess, was over 70 female members of Parliament, both Conservative and Labour, came out and called out the colonial undertones of articles and headlines written about Meghan. Yet no one from my family ever said anything. That hurts."
He added: "But I also am acutely aware of where my family stand and how scared they are of the tabloids turning on them."
"I just wanted to make them proud" says Meghan
Meghan told Oprah Winfrey that she had left everything to join the royal family, and just wanted to make them proud -- even though she received little to no guidance or instruction.
"I left my career, my life, I left everything because I love him," she said. "Our plan was to do this forever -- I wrote letters to his family saying I am dedicated to this, I am here for you, use me as you'd like."
But "there was no guidance," she said. "There were certain things you couldn't do, but (unlike the movies) there was no class on how to speak, how to cross your legs, how to be royal."
She didn't even know the British national anthem, and nobody in the royal institution thought to teach or show it to her, she said. "That was me Googling late at night ... we were doing the training behind the scenes because I wanted to make them proud."
"I was trapped but I didn't know I was trapped," says Harry
When asked if he would have stepped back if not for Meghan, Harry replied no.
"I myself was trapped as well. I didn't see a way out. I was trapped but I didn't know I was trapped," he said.
When Oprah Winfrey asked how a prince born into privilege could have been trapped, he replied, "Trapped within the system, like the rest of my family are. My father and my brother, they are trapped. They don't get to leave, and I have huge compassion for that."
Harry "went to a very dark place" after Meghan confided that she didn't want to live anymore
When Meghan told Harry that she didn't want to live anymore, "I was terrified," Harry told Oprah Winfrey.
"I had no idea what to do, I went to a very dark place as well, but I wanted to be there for her," he said.
At first, he didn't tell the family that she needed help -- it's not a conversation easily had in the institution, he said. And, he added, "I guess I was ashamed of admitting it to them -- I don't know if they've had the same feelings or thoughts. I have no idea."
It's a stifling environment, and "I didn't have anywhere to turn to," he added. "For the family, they very much have this mentality of, this is just how it is, you can't change it, we've all been through it."
"But what was different for me was the race element -- it wasn't just about her, it was about what she represents," he said. "So it's not just affecting my wife, but affecting so many other people as well."
That's what pushed him to discuss the issue with the royal family and warn them that "this isn't going to end well," Harry said.
Harry says his father, Prince Charles, stopped taking his calls
Prince Harry discussed his relationship with his father, Prince Charles, following his move to Canada in early 2020.
Before the couple's public announcement of their stepping back from the royal family, Harry said he had had three conversations with the Queen and two conversations with his father, who is next in line to the British throne, "before he stopped taking my calls," Harry added.
His father asked him to put it in writing, which Harry did -- including specifics like the date they planned to make the announcement
When Oprah Winfrey asked why Prince Charles stopped taking his calls, Harry took a long pause.
"Because by that point, I took matters into my own hands," he replied. "I needed to do this for my family. This is not a surprise to anybody, it's really sad that it's gotten to this point, but I've got to do something, for my own mental health and my wife's. And for Archie's as well, because I could see where this is headed."
I had to walk "in her shoes" to understand the prejudice she faced, says Harry
Prince Harry said he had to walk in Meghan's shoes to understand the scrutiny and bias she faced as a woman of color.
"I've spent many years doing the work and doing my own learning. But then my upbringing and the system, in which I was brought up in, and what I've been exposed to, I wasn't aware of it to start with. But my God, it doesn't take very long to suddenly become aware of it," he said of racial issues.
"It takes living in her shoes, in this instance, for a day or those first eight days to see where it was going to go and how far they were going to take it, and get away with it," he said of the British media's coverage of the Duchess of Sussex.
Prince Harry: "I was desperate" to stop history repeating itself, but received "no help at all"
After Harry and Meghan announced they were stepping back from the royal family, they were told while in California that they would lose their security, the couple revealed in their interview with Oprah Winfrey.
It was due to their "change in status," they said -- though the royal institution admitted that there was no change in the level of threat they faced.
When Winfrey asked what the breaking point was, Harry answered, "I was desperate. I went to all the places I thought of to ask for help -- we both did."
"We're in a lot of pain, you can't provide us with the help we need," Meghan added.
They wanted to take a breath from "this constant barrage," Harry said. "My biggest concern was history repeating itself ... what I was seeing was history repeating itself. But (this is) far more dangerous, because you add race in, you add social media ... "
He clarified that by "history," he was referring to his mother, Princess Diana, who died in a car crash in Paris in 1997, while being pursued by the paparazzi.
"When you see something happening in the same kind of a way, anyone would ask for help ... especially when you know there's a relationship there, they could help you share the truth, call off the dogs, whatever you want to call it," he said.
But instead, they received "no help at all."
Meghan and Harry are expecting a girl this summer
Meghan and Harry revealed in their sit-down with Oprah Winfrey that they are expecting a baby girl.
The baby is due in the summer, Meghan said.
Meghan ends her one-on-one segment: "I'm still standing" and "life is worth living"
Oprah Winfrey ended her one-on-one segment with Meghan by asking how she felt about sharing her truth publicly, and whether she was afraid of backlash.
"I'm not going to live my life in fear," Meghan replied. "I don't know how they could expect that after all of this time, we would still just be silent if there was an active role that the firm is playing in perpetuating falsehoods about us. At a certain point you're going to go, someone just tell the truth."
"If that comes with a risk of losing things, there's a lot that's been lost already," she added. "I've lost my father, I lost a baby, I nearly lost my name, there's the loss of identity. But I'm still standing, and my hope for people in the takeaway from this, is to know that there's another side -- to know that life is worth living."
Meghan didn't have access to her passport, driver's license or keys when she joined the royal family
Until she moved away from her royal duties, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, said she felt trapped and didn't have her passport, driver's license or keys.
"When I joined that family, that was the last time -- until we came here -- that I saw my passport, my driver's license, my keys. All that gets turned over. I didn't see any of that anymore," she told Oprah Winfrey.
Meghan said she was struggling with the intense pressure and scrutiny and she did not receive help from the royal institution even when she asked to be checked into an institution or seek professional help.
"I didn't want to be alive anymore," Meghan says of life in the royal family
Meghan revealed in her interview with Oprah Winfrey that life in the royal family had driven her to suicidal thoughts.
When Winfrey asked if there had been a breaking point, Meghan said yes. "I just didn't see a solution. I would sit up at night, like, I don't understand how all of this is being churned out," she said. "My mom and my friends (were) calling me crying saying, 'Meg, they're not protecting you.'"
"It was all happening just because I was breathing," she said.
It drove her to the verge of despair, she said. "I was really ashamed to say it at the time, and ashamed to have to admit it to Harry especially, because I know how much loss he has suffered, but I knew that if I didn't say it, that I would do it -- and I just didn't want to be alive anymore."
"It was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought. I remember how he just cradled me, and ... I went to the institution, and I said I needed to go somewhere to get help ... and I was told that I couldn't."
She went to human resources as well to plead her case for leaving or seeking help, and though they expressed sympathy, they told her there was nothing they could do because she wasn't a paid member of the institution, she was family.
"The way you're describing this, you're trapped and couldn't get help, even though you're on the verge of suicide. That's what you are describing, that's what I'm hearing," said Winfrey.
"Yes," Meghan replied. "That's the truth."
"I share this because there's so many people who are afraid to voice that they need help, and I know how hard it is not just to voice it but to be told no," she said.
The royal institution did not help when the "real character assassination" began, Meghan says
Meghan said the stories about her making Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, cry were "the beginning of a real character assassination" and the royal institution did not publicly challenge it, despite knowing it was false.
"They would go on the record and negate for the most ridiculous story for anyone," she said. "But the narrative about making Kate cry was the beginning of a real character assassination and they knew it wasn't true. If they're not going to kill things like that, then what are we going to do?" the Duchess of Sussex said in her interview with Oprah Winfrey.
Royal institution had concerns about "how dark" Archie's skin might be, Meghan said
When Winfrey asked why Meghan thought the royal family didn't want to give Archie a title or security, she revealed that race had been a concern within the institution.
There were several "concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he was born," she said.
The family had had those conversations with Harry, which were then related back to her, Meghan said. She declined to reveal who was involved with those conversations.
"That would be very damaging to them," she said.
During her tours and visits to the Commonwealth, she saw "how much it meant to them to be able to see someone who looked like them in this position. And I could never understand how it couldn't be seen as an added benefit, and a reflection of the world today."
Harry and Meghan's baby, Archie, won't receive security from royal institution
When Meghan was pregnant with her son Archie, she was shocked to be told by the royal institution that he wouldn't be made a prince and thus wouldn't receive security.
"This went on for the last few months of our pregnancy, where I'm going, hold on a second ... he needs to be safe," she said. "We have created this monster machine (of clickbait and tabloids), you've allowed this to happen, which means we need to be safe."
She didn't have much of an attachment to titles -- but it's different if those titles might affect Archie's safety, she said.
"While I was pregnant, they wanted to change the convention, for Archie. Why?" she said. "There's no explanation."
"That's a loaded piece of toast" says Meghan of media's scrutiny of her diet
During her interview with Oprah Winfrey, Meghan discussed the different standards applied to her and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge -- and how glaringly obvious it becomes when you examine media headlines.
When Kate was photographed cradling her baby bump, she was praised as a doting expectant mother -- but when Meghan was photographed doing the same, British media accused her of "pride or vanity."
Winfrey contrasted media coverage of Meghan and Kate eating avocados during their pregnancies. For Kate, it was said to be helping with morning sickness. However, for Meghan, avocados became a fruit linked to water shortages and "environmental devastation."
"You have to laugh at a certain point because it's just ridiculous," Meghan said. "That's a loaded piece of toast," she added.
She said she didn't know why there was a difference in standards for her and Kate.
"I can see now what layers were at play there. And again, they really seemed to want a narrative of a hero and a villain."
Life in royal family was deeply lonely, Meghan says
Life in the royal family was deeply lonely and isolating, and she had little freedom, said Meghan.
She wasn't even allowed to go out for lunch with friends sometimes because she was too heavily covered in the media, she said.
She was told to lay low -- but she hadn't even left the house in months, she said.
"I am everywhere but I am nowhere," she added. Everyone was concerned with optics, how her actions might look -- but "has anyone talked about how it feels? Because right now I could not feel lonelier."
Meghan says she was silenced and wasn't protected by the royal institution
In her interview with Oprah Winfrey, Meghan said that she had been silenced after she got married and joined the royal family.
It was only when she joined the institution that she understood she "wasn't being protected," she said.
"They were willing to lie to protect other members of the family, but they weren't willing to lie to protect me and my husband," she said.
She added that she had been welcomed into the family, and that the family members are different from "the people running the institution."
"The Queen has always been wonderful to me," she said. On their first joint engagement, the Queen gave her a gift of pearl earrings and a matching necklace. In the car between engagements, the Queen had a blanket across her knees for warmth -- and "she said, 'Meghan, come on,' and put it across my knees as well," said Meghan. "It made me think of my grandma as well."
Meghan had to quickly learn to curtsy before her first meeting with the Queen
Before she met the Queen for the first time, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, said she was taught to curtsy.
"I thought genuinely that that was what happens outside, I thought that was part of the fanfare. I didn't think that's what happens inside. And I said, 'But it's your grandmother.' [Harry] goes, 'It's the Queen,'" she told Oprah Winfrey in the interview.
"That was really the first moment that the penny dropped," she added.
She said she practiced it quickly with Harry before the meeting and did a "very deep curtsy" in front of the Queen.
"We just sat there and we chatted. And it was lovely and easy," she said of their first meeting.
Meghan addresses rumors of dispute with Kate
In her one-on-one interview with Oprah Winfrey, Meghan addressed the rumors that she had made Prince William's partner, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, cry during her wedding preparations.
The rumor had made headlines and sparked public hostility -- but it wasn't true, said Meghan. In fact, it was the other way around -- Meghan had been the one in tears.
"A few days before the wedding she was upset about something pertaining to flower girl dresses. It made me cry, it really hurt my feelings," she said.
She added that "There was no confrontation," and that she has forgiven the Duchess of Cambridge, who is known as Kate. She is "a good person," said Meghan.
"I don't think it's fair to her to get into the details of that, because she's apologized," she said -- but the hard part was being publicly and relentlessly "blamed for something I didn't do, but happened to me."
"Everyone in the institution knew it wasn't true," she said -- the institution being the royal family. When Winfrey asked why nobody had spoken up, Meghan replied, "That's a good question."
Meghan and Harry got married three days before the royal wedding
Meghan and Harry got married three days before the royal wedding that captured the world's attention, Meghan revealed on her interview with Oprah Winfrey.
The vows framed in their home shows the two of them during their private wedding, Meghan said.
Life now in their new home has been "really fulfilling," she added -- the couple has been able to focus on "getting back down to basics."
Life in the royal family: "You're being judged on the perception of it, but you're living with the reality"
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, started her interview with Oprah Winfrey by discussing her wedding day and what it was like to enter the royal family.
The wedding was an "out of body experience," she said. She had woken up that morning, listened to the "Going to the Chapel" song -- but all the while, she and Harry were aware that "this wasn't our day -- this was the day that was planned for the world."
"I went into it naively because I didn't grow up knowing much about the royal family," she said. "It wasn't part of conversation at home it wasn't something we followed ... I didn't do any research. I've never looked up my husband online," she said.
"I didn't fully understand what the job was, what does it mean to be a working royal?" she added. "But I think, there was no way to understand what the day to day was.
She didn't know much about the British royals beforehand, she said -- her mother didn't even know about Princess Diana's bombshell interview. "What do you know about the royals? It's what you read in fairy tales," Meghan said.
"The perception and the reality are very different things, and you're being judged on the perception of it, but you're living with the reality."
Why Harry and Meghan stepped away from the Royal Family
Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, announced they were stepping back from their roles as senior royals in January 2020, explaining on Instagram that they hoped to "carve out a progressive new role within this institution."
Under the terms brokered by the palace, the couple had to step back from their royal duties, including military appointments and would no longer represent the Queen. The arrangement -- which would go into effect in the spring -- also saw them drop the titles His and Her Royal Highness and they would no longer receive funds for royal duties.
"It brings me great sadness that it has come to this. The decision that I have made for my wife and I to step back is not one I made lightly," Harry said shortly after the announcement while speaking at a charity event in London. "It was so many months of talks after so many years of challenges. And I know I haven't always got it right, but as far as this goes, there really was no other option."
He added, "What I want to make clear is we're not walking away, and we certainly aren't walking away from you. Our hope was to continue serving the Queen, the Commonwealth, and my military associations, but without public funding. Unfortunately, that wasn't possible."
Hints of unhappiness in court documents: Meghan disclosed in court documents from her successful invasion of privacy case that she felt "unprotected" by the monarchy during her first pregnancy, in the face of "a large number of false and damaging articles."
The legal documents were the first time Meghan had publicly indicated her unhappiness at the support Palace staff were providing to her. More specifically it disclosed a hint of her frustration at the royal protocol not to respond to speculative media reports.
Move to Los Angeles: As the end of the one-year transition period drew closer, friction reignited between the Sussexes now based in Los Angeles and the royals back home in the United Kingdom.
It was announced that Harry and Meghan had agreed with the Queen that they would not be returning as working members of the family. As a result, their honorary military appointments and royal patronages were revoked and would be redistributed.
Martin Bashir landed his famous Panorama interview with Princess Diana by feeding her a diet of false stories that fueled her paranoia, including allegations that she was being spied on by security services, that her staff were betraying her to the tabloids, that Prince Edward had AIDS, and that her husband was having an affair with her son’s nanny, a long-awaited inquiry into the affair published Thursday by the BBC claims.
Queen Elizabeth II, wearing a black face mask and seated alone, said goodbye to her husband of more than 73 years, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, at his funeral on Saturday at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle. The ceremony for Prince Philip, who died last week at age 99, was highly unusual — in part because coronavirus restrictions meant that it had to be scaled back, but also because it followed a very public airing of a family rift. Members of the royal family — Philip’s four children and some of his grandchildren — walked in a somber procession behind his coffin.
The Dukes of Cambridge and Sussex will walk apart for their grandfather’s funeral, which is likely to see the Queen sitting alone, details released by Buckingham Palace reveal. Prince William and Prince Harry, whose troubled relationship was further strained after the Sussexes’ controversial interview with Oprah Winfrey, will be separated by their cousin Peter Phillips as they walk behind the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh on Saturday.
A statement from Buckingham Palace on Friday said: “It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle. Further announcements will made in due course. The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss.” He was the longest serving consort in British history, and was only months away from his 100th birthday in June.