Video report by ITV News Royal Editor Chris Ship
The Duchess of Sussex has agreed to sit down in the US with the TV host Oprah Winfrey in what could be an explosive and revealing interview about Meghan and Harry's departure from the Royal Family.Neither Meghan nor Harry has given an interview about their decision to leave the UK since their shock announcement a year ago that they were quitting as senior working royals.
ITV News has discovered that the Duchess is finalising a deal with Oprah on what US television executives have called an "Oprah Winfrey Special".
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Since our story broke, US network CBS announced it will air the programme on Sunday 7 March. The programme summary, which ITV News saw in advance of the confirmation referred to it unambiguously as "Oprah interviews Meghan Markle".
A deal was signed over the weekend and includes the Duke of Sussex who will "join" Meghan and Oprah to talk about the couple's move to the United States.
There have been rumours for some time that Meghan would choose Oprah for her first interview since she relocated to California with Prince Harry and their son Archie last year.
On Sunday, the couple announced the news that they are expecting their second child and released a picture taken by one of Meghan's longtime friends, Misan Harriman. Oprah, sometimes referred to as 'American royalty', runs her own channel called the Oprah Winfrey Network, or OWN. She also heads production company Harpo, which will be making the Harry and Meghan "primetime special".
Securing the interview is a huge coup for Oprah and her production company.It is not clear what parameters the Duchess has set on her interview or whether she has drawn red lines on speaking about the Queen and other Royals. However, CBS said she will speak to Oprah "in a wide-ranging interview, covering everything from stepping into life as a Royal, marriage, motherhood, philanthropic work to how she is handling life under intense public pressure."
It is entirely possible that Meghan has demanded some 'no go' areas of discussion with her friend.
But ITV News believes Meghan also plans to address issues surrounding the press coverage she has received since her relationship with Prince Harry was first revealed.
That would be a significant development after Meghan won her privacy case against the Mail on Sunday last week.
After a two year fight following the newspaper's publication of the personal letter she sent to her father Thomas Markle, the Duchess called the tabloid's coverage "illegal and dehumanising".
An interview with Oprah, someone Meghan knows and trust, would give the Duchess the space to talk about how she and Harry have been treated and could cover all or some of the time between their marriage in 2018, the birth of Archie in 2019 and their decision to quit as senior Royals in 2020.
Harry has a well-known hatred for many sections of the tabloid press. It stems from the treatment his mother Diana received when he was very young and the Duke has issued stinging public statements in recent years about how his wife was suffering a similar fate. Oprah Winfrey was one of the guests invited to Harry and Meghan's wedding at Windsor Castle in 2018, and the host wrote about how sitting in St George's Chapel, you couldn't fail to "feel the power of love." "I can’t wait to see the goodness that will come from their union," she said in an article after the wedding. Meghan met Oprah through a mutual friend, the CBS breakfast show host, Gayle King. They live close to one another in Santa Barbara and Oprah recently referred to Meghan as "my neighbour 'M'" after the Duchess sent her samples of a new coffee brand, Clevr Blends, that she had invested money in.
Oprah wrote "M" with a crown emoji in case anyone should doubt who she was talking about.
Harry has already agreed to work with Oprah and Apple TV on a series about mental health which was announced some time ago. The Duchess last talked about the difficulties she faced as a "vulnerable" new mum and new member of the Royal Family in 2018 in her ITV interview with Tom Bradby at the end of the couple's Africa tour. In the emotional interview, recorded in Johannesburg, Meghan said that it has been a real struggle and told ITV cameras that it was a "very real thing to be going through behind the scenes". The Duchess said that "not many people have asked if I'm OK" and admitted to being "naive" about the pressure she would get from British tabloid newspapers: "I never thought that this would be easy, but I thought it would be fair".
Prince Harry and Meghan have taken part in video calls from their new home in Montecito in California but they have insisted the focus of attention remained on the causes and charities they were promoting rather than their own personal situation. They have since announced deals with Netflix and Spotify, and started a podcast series, but beyond a brief introduction to their son Archie, the Sussexes have not revealed any private information.
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