Meghan Markle ‘wide appeal’ in Commonwealth says expert
The Queen finally closed the Megxit saga earlier this month when she officially stripped Meghan and Harry of their remaining royal patronages. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex had just told the monarch they had no intention of returning as working royals, but then appeared disgruntled when the Queen subsequently took away their patronages for redistribution among the Firm. Tensions are expected to continue — especially as the couple’s first interview since leaving the royal frontline will be broadcast on March 7 in the US.
This will hit the small screen just hours after the Queen’s special TV announcement to celebrate Commonwealth Day will be broadcast in the UK.
A source told Vanity Fair: “The Palace is hoping the service will get plenty of media coverage because Commonwealth Day is incredibly important to the Queen, she won’t be happy if anything overshadows it.”
Reportedly, the Commonwealth Secretariat and the BBC found the ideal date for the broadcast “weeks ago” — Sunday, March 7, the day before Commonwealth Day on March 8.
COVID-19 restrictions mean this year the service will be virtual and aired on the BBC, rather than the usual large gathering at Westminster Abbey.
Although time zone differences mean there is no actual scheduling conflict between the 90-minute Oprah interview and the special BBC broadcast, social media is likely to be flooded with reactions to the Sussexes’ interview for days afterwards.
Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at the Commonwealth Day service last March
Sussex news: There were visible tensions at the March 2020 Commonwealth Day service
Royal commentator Katie Nicholl also explained: “The scheduling conflict will be frustrating for Palace aides who go to great lengths to avoid diary clashes and are already bracing themselves for what could be the Royal Family’s most explosive interview since Diana agreed to talk with Panorama.”
The BBC programme, ‘A Celebration For Commonwealth Day’ will include messages from the monarch, the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Countess of Wessex.
The annual occasion of Commonwealth Day is one of the most important events in the Queen’s calendar, and also one of the first to be scheduled in.
The monarch is said to be incredibly proud of building on the international organisation and considers it one of her greatest achievements.
Meghan and Harry have indicated that it’s a special occasion for them, too, in the past.
They chose to make their final joint royal engagements last year on that very day, a gesture in line with their repeated statements about how much the Commonwealth means to them.
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The end Meghan and Harry’s patronage of QCT on the organisation’s Instagram page
Although last March, it must be noted there was a definite awkwardness between the rebellious Sussexes and the rest of the Royal Family which overshadowed the event.
However, the couple had to hand back their roles as President and Vice President of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust after confirming they would not be returning to the royal fold.
This is likely to have upset the pair, especially as they sought to make their greatest impact in the Commonwealth — Meghan even had all the member state flowers embroidered on her wedding veil.
Since leaving the frontline last year, the Sussexes raised eyebrows with their approach to the Commonwealth.
They appeared to criticise the Queen’s legacy with the Commonwealth and suggest that the organisation address its “difficult past” over the summer.
Not long after, Barbados announced that it was seeking to remove the Queen as its head of state — and many Sussex critics believed that the outspoken couple may have helped trigger such an announcement.
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Harry and Meghan were President and Vice President of the QCT
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are set to be interviewed by friend Oprah Winfrey
It’s not known yet which UK broadcaster will buy the rights to the Sussexes’ interview, but it is set to air in the UK later in the day on Monday.
The BBC reportedly told The Telegraph this week that it will not be “pulling out its cheque book” to buy the rights to air the “intimate” conversation, leaving ITV as the frontrunner.
The couple also chose to air their documentary ‘Harry and Meghan: An African Journey’ from October 2019 with ITV.
However, other reports suggest there is a tense bidding war for the international rights, as Sky and ITV battle it out.
Interestingly, Netflix is reportedly not involved — despite the Sussexes’ megawatt deal with the streaming giant.
Some have speculated that, after courtiers reportedly found out about it on social media, it may have triggered the Queen to act — and strip them of their patronages.
The Queen is hoping their interview does not overshadow the Commonwealth Day plans
A source told The Mirror: “When the Duke and Duchess spoke, it was never envisaged they would have their patronages taken away.
“They didn’t see it coming and spoke as they still had roles to play.
“Now, however, other than their titles, they are to have no role in royal life — a point producers know was not discussed when Winfrey spoke to them.
“Neither the Sussexes nor the TV crew saw the fallout of their interview leading to this.”
They added that “things have significantly changed for them since they eagerly sat for Winfrey and poured their hearts out”.