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Oprah Winfrey followed up her exclusive sit-down with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry with an appearance on CBS This Morning on Monday morning, where she revealed her reaction to the interview and more exclusive moments from the royal pair.
The biggest bombshells from the riveting and revelatory Oprah With Meghan and Harry: A CBS Primetime Special saw Markle and Prince Harry revealing that there were conversations and “concerns” in the royal family about the skin color of their babies and that Archie would not receive a royal title or security. Markle, who is biracial, said the couple was blindsided by the break in tradition over their son, who would be the first member of color born into the family.
Speaking remotely to CBS This Morning‘s Gayle King on Monday, Winfrey responded to the widespread speculation about who in the royal family initiated that conversation and confirmed that it was not Queen Elizabeth or Prince Philip. “[Prince Harry] did not share the identity with me but he wanted to make sure that I knew and, if I had an opportunity to share it, that it was not his grandmother nor his grandfather that were a part of those conversations,” she said.
Prince Harry had revealed that while he is on good terms with his grandmother, he said he has to work on his relationship with his father, Prince Charles, and that he and brother Prince William are taking space. “My brother can’t leave that system, but I have,” Prince Harry says to Winfrey in a new clip aired Monday. On Sunday night, he had likened being a part of the monarchy to being “trapped” and had expressed his disappointment over the royal family never speaking out publicly to denounce the racism Markle faced.
“Rude and racism are not the same,” says Markle in the new clip, referencing being told that other members have undergone similar tabloid scrutiny. Prince Harry added, “With that relationship and that control and the fear by the U.K. tabloids, it’s a toxic environment. But I will always be there for [William], I will always be there for my family. I’ve tried to help them to see what has happened.” He added that it would make a “huge difference” if his family were to speak out and support them amid the racism: “It’s talked about across the world, yet the very people that don’t want to see it or can’t see it, choose not to see it.”
Markle had revealed that while facing racism, seclusion and an unrelenting tabloid press — including many false claims that the monarchy would not publicly denounce — she struggled with thoughts of suicide. She and Prince Harry revealed that they had asked the palace if Markle could seek professional help over the state of her mental health and were told by the institution behind the royal family that help was not possible. Ultimately, the pair said it was that overall lack of support — which included being cut off financially and in security for their family — that resulted in their decision to exit the family and the U.K.
“My biggest concern was history repeating itself,” Prince Harry had told Winfrey on Sunday, speaking of his mother, the late Princess Diana. “What I was seeing was history repeating itself but definitely far more dangerous because then you add race in and you add social media in — when I’m talking about history repeating itself, I’m talking about my mother. When you can see something happening in the same kind of way, anybody would ask for help. Ask the system of which you are a part of, especially when you know there is a race issue there, that they could help and share some truth or call the dogs off, whatever you want to call it. So to receive no help at all and to be told continuously, ‘This is how it is. This is just how it is.'”
The Oprah With Meghan and Harry interview took place in Santa Barbara, where the pair now reside. Markle, who is pregnant, revealed on-air with Prince Harry that they are expecting a girl in the summer. The full interview is set to air Monday night in the U.K. on ITV, but all the major news networks and newspapers led with wall-to-wall coverage. And Monday morning ratings for the two-hour CBS special, produced by Winfrey’s Harpo Productions, averaged better than 17 million viewers.
Winfrey said she and her team were tasked with editing down a three hour-plus conversation to one hour and 25 minutes. Among the exclusive, previously un-aired clips that aired on CBS This Morning on Monday was Prince Harry elaborating on how racism played a role in their need to step back, particularly on the part of the “bigoted” U.K. tabloids. During Sunday’s interview, the royal pair had explained to Winfrey the “invisible” agreement between the palace and U.K. tabloids, describing it as a “symbiotic” relationship.
They had also explained that they went through all of the proper protocol when announcing their stepping back, setting the record straight about reports that they had “blindsided” the queen with their news. In another new clip released Monday, Prince Harry shared that after they made the Jan. 8, 2020, announcement that would go on to spark “Megxit,” the queen canceled plans to see them, telling her grandson personally that she was busy for the week. “When you are head of the firm, there are people around you that give you advice. And what has also made me really sad is that some of that advice has been really bad,” said Prince Harry in the clip.
“That was such an important story to be shared last night,” Winfrey told CBS This Morning co-hosts King, Anthony Mason and Tony Dokoupil on Monday morning. “In the process of trying to edit this three hours and 20 minutes down to an hour and 25 minutes, I said to my team, ‘The most important question to be answered here at the end of this show will be: Why did they leave?’ And I think the stories about blindsiding the queen were very, very damaging to them and also hurtful because they understood very clearly that there had been months and months of preparation before they actually moved to Canada.”
Referencing the Jan. 18 statement from the queen that cited the “many months of conversations and more recent discussions” to come up with a way forward for Prince Harry and his family, Winfrey added, “In spite of that, there were still all those stories about blindsiding the queen.” Speaking about the separation between the royal family and what Markle referred to as the institution, Dokoupil likened it to a “deep state” existing within the monarchy.
Winfrey also shared that she had a conversation with the pair before the interview about their intentions, so they wouldn’t leave the sit-down with any regrets. “They agreed to do [the interview], wanted to do it, were ready to do it because when you have been lied about for a series of years,” she explained, “I think anybody, you have to understand this, if in your own office or in your own family somebody is saying things about you that are not true and how hurtful that is, or if you’re online and you read the comments from something that somebody has said about you and you continue to see those comments how hurtful that is, so imagine that over a period of months and years, and you know it isn’t true.”
As for the accusations about the interview bringing more publicity to the pair and the royal family, Winfrey said she discussed with Prince Harry and Markle the importance of boundaries. “The point that they made in the interview is that yes, they want privacy — they understand that they are public figures — and the privacy is not to be intruded on,” she said Monday. “And that there is a difference between privacy, intrusion and being able to have boundaries.”
One of the biggest privacy issues was touched on in another unaired clip, in which Markle spoke about the betrayal of her father in speaking to the tabloids. She told Winfrey that the tabloids sat on the story for one month so that it would come out shortly before their wedding. “They don’t report the news, they create the news,” said Markle of the tabloids. But Markle shared that the palace communications team did not intervene: “They can try to go in and kill this story. But if they do this once, we’re not going to be able to protect our own kids one day.”
She also praised her mother for her ongoing silence to the press and laughed off a supposed tell-all from her half-sister. “I don’t feel comfortable talking about people that I really don’t know,” she said in the clip, noting that the last time she saw her half-sister was 18 or 19 years ago. “She changed her last name back to Markle only when I started dating Harry. So, I think that says enough.”
Noting Prince Harry’s revelations about his fractured relationship with Prince Charles, Winfrey commented, “You could feel his sadness. And I think what he said in the interview last night about continuing to work on mending that relationship is what he intends to do. But, it is very sad.”
As the interview was airing on the East Coast, Winfrey says Markle had checked in via text to ask her, “How’s it going?” and said she plans to speak with the California couple later today.
Winfrey recounted an interaction between her and Markle from years ago to close out her appearance: “[Markle] shared a conversation with me then that really made me feel somewhat disheartened, because she said she’d been given advice that it would be best if she could be 50 percent less than she is. I remember hearing that in 2018 and said specifically to her, ‘I don’t know how you’re going to survive being half of yourself.'”
March 8, 8:15 a.m.: Updated to include Monday morning ratings.
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