Meghan Markle and Harry: Expert on ‘anger’ over Oprah interview
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have filmed an interview with the US TV legend, in which “nothing was off limits”, according to Oprah’s friend Gayle King. However, royal interviews have a history of not going to plan, most recently Prince Andrew’s car crash interview with BBC Newsnight over the Jeffrey Epstein scandal. In the past, Princess Diana’s interview with BBC Panorama shook the world, but she was said to later regret some of the things she said.
Before her, Prince Charles did a TV interview in which he admitted, for the first time, his infidelity with Camilla Parker Bowles, now the Duchess of Cornwall.
Pod Save the Queen is hosted by Ann Gripper and features Daily Mirror royal editor Russell Myers.
Mr Myers argued that the Oprah interview is a “disaster waiting to happen”, based on these previous examples.
He said: “There were some reports that the Queen does trust Harry, that he won’t put his foot in it or disgrace himself or the family, but these things do not go to plan do they?
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Oprah’s close friend Gayle King
“Let’s look at Prince Andrew’s cataclysmic performance on BBC Newsnight just recently, a year ago.
“And even further back, you look in the Nineties, we’re still talking about those two interviews now, Princess Diana and Prince Charles before her, so it’s an absolute disaster waiting to happen potentially.”
He added: “I think, not only does this create nervousness in the Palace, that this is something that they wouldn’t have wanted to happen, Harry and Meghan didn’t tell anyone at the Palace, they didn’t tell any of the senior royals.
“Certainly everyone found out about it at the same time on Twitter the other day.”
Prince Andrew’s interview with BBC Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis
Indeed, there are parallels to Andrew’s interview in that he reportedly did not get clearance for this interview before ploughing ahead with it.
Ms Gripper posited that Meghan and Harry want to put across a certain narrative that is their side of the story with this Oprah interview, just like Andrew wanted to with Newsnight and like both Diana and Charles wanted to as well.
However, she argued that Meghan will likely be in a better position to do this because of the nature of Oprah’s interviews.
Unlike Panorama and Newsnight, which are focused on investigative journalism, Oprah’s interviews are more about the entertainment value.
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Princess Diana’s interview with BBC Panorama’s Martin Bashir in 1995
Ms Gripper argued: “I think each of those cases is someone where they’re wanting to put their own narrative over and tell their side of the story and I would expect Meghan would be more able to tell her side of the story in the way that she wants it told with Oprah than Prince Andrew was able to with Emily Maitlis.
“Partly because, obviously, there were serious allegations against Prince Andrew and it was exploring that and Emily Maitlis is ‒ not an attack dog but ‒”
Mr Myers agreed, saying that Ms Maitlis is “a proper journalist, a proper investigative journalist”.
Ms Gripper continued: “Oprah Winfrey does good interviews but it’s a very different forum and it’s with a different purpose and it’s not an investigation into Meghan’s… how it all went, it’s not that kind of thing.
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“So you’d imagine she’d get a much easier ride and if she says, ‘Actually I don’t want to answer that,’ I would imagine they would cut it, whereas if Prince Andrew had said ‘I don’t want to answer that,’ they would totally have left it in.”
Mr Myers agreed that the interview “arguably won’t be this big investigative piece” like the BBC Newsnight episode on Prince Andrew in November 2019, but he pointed out that it is still a 90-minute special.
Meghan will almost certainly be asked questions about her relationship with the royals, why they left for the US, and she will likely bring up her perceived treatment by the media.
Mr Myers argued that, whatever she says, there will be “soundbites” poured over, both by the media and indeed by members of the Royal Family.
He said: “Anything slightly untoward could be quite damaging and hurtful, I imagine.”
The royal expert added that Meghan and Harry are not being paid for the interview, which is being aired on CBS on March 7.
He concluded that, whether or not Meghan will be given an easier time than Andrew, he doubts it will be “a damp squib”, because Oprah is a professional and will know how important this interview is, and will want to make it as successful as possible.
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