ITV News Royal Editor Chris Ship on the latest from Meghan and Harry's planned Oprah interview
Harry and Meghan’s big interview with Oprah Winfrey has the potential to be a very uncomfortable watch for the UK in general and Buckingham Palace in particular.
Since the Sussexes’ last big interview, with ITV’s Tom Bradby in October 2019, a lot has happened, to put it mildly.
It’s hard to see how the Duke and Duchess will talk about all of that with any hint of happiness or positivity.
Be it the difficult extraction from the Royal Family, the crisis summit with the Queen at Sandringham, Harry’s deteriorating relationship with his brother, the schism it caused in the Monarchy, the fierce and emotional battle with some British tabloids and, of course, the breakdown of Meghan’s relationship with her father.
There is a lot to talk about in the 90 minute programme, made by Oprah’s own production company, Harpo and billed by the CBS network as a “Primetime Special”.
Perhaps they need more than 90 minutes to discuss it all.
Little wonder, that inside Buckingham Palace, they are nervously awaiting the outcome and were not told in advance that this was coming.
After ITV News first revealed the Oprah interview yesterday, royal aides are now trying to work out how they should react once the show has aired.
Already, newspapers are writing articles about the interview being a ‘final straw’ and that the Palace will remove all of Harry’s remaining patronages and honorary military titles that were due to be reviewed 12 months after the Sussexes departure.
The truth is, Harry and Meghan have already severed those ties themselves.
They have a new life and it’s clearer than ever that their new life is in the US.
Harry might still be grandson of the Queen and he does still talk to her more than anyone else in his family – but his UK life is now firmly in the past.
And I suspect that will become even clearer once the couple have finished their chat with Oprah Winfrey.
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Choosing Oprah to do the interview was a wise move by the Duke and Duchess.
The “Queen” of US chat shows, and the host sometimes referred to as American Royalty, has long been rumoured to be Harry and Meghan’s interviewer of choice for their first broadcast since leaving the UK.
Meghan and Oprah have an existing friendship, they are also neighbours and Oprah is such a big deal in the United States, it’s actually hard to work out who is the more box office? Her? Or the Sussexes themselves?
But Harry and Meghan have something Oprah doesn’t have. In fact, it’s something no American other than Meghan has: an actual Royal connection.
So Americans will tune into the show in their millions to see what their Californian-born duchess has to say about everything that has happened since she entered, then abruptly left, the Royal Family.
What the Palace fears the most is any accusation that Meghan wasn’t made to feel welcome, that the institution didn’t look after her, that Harry’s family could have done more.
After all, when Meghan got married in May 2018, she didn’t just have a new husband, but a new life, a new country, a new family, a new status, new career, new fame, new house, new staff, new protocols. Soon she had a new child.
However confident and accomplished Meghan is - and most people would agree she is both of those things - no one can absorb all those changes and not feel bewildered.
Expressing any emotions about her time in the Royal Family will generate instant headlines.
The Queen’s senior aides at Buckingham Palace might have been looking forward to 7 March as the end of the Covid lockdown.
They will now be wishing they could apply a similar lockdown to the television airwaves on that Sunday night.