Bombshell interviews with royals aren’t without precedent, the one that CBS aired on Sunday night was one for the history books. Not only was Meghan Markle bold enough to publicly criticize the monarchy, but so was Prince Harry—and so candidly, in fact, that he repeatedly referred to Queen Elizabeth II as simply “my grandmother.” But that was just the beginning of the revelations. On Monday morning, Winfrey shed light on one of the night’s most seismic reveals: that a member of The Firm expressed concerns to Harry about how dark their child Archie’s skin would be.
Meghan asserted that identifying the individual “would be very damaging” to the royals, and Harry said he would “never” share further details. But Winfrey offered up a hint to Gayle King: “He did not share the identity with me, but he wanted to make sure that I knew, and if I had the opportunity to share it, that it was not his grandmother nor his grandfather that were a part of those conversations.”
Even without that information, the interview was “damaging” nonetheless. The queen survived unscathed—Harry’s father, Prince Charles, not so much. Here, a ranking of how each fared, starting with the worst.
Harry may have mentioned it in passing, but there was one line in particular that immediately sent shock waves through Twitter: “I had three conversations with my grandmother, and two conversations with my father before he stopped taking my calls.” Prince Charles didn’t cut off communication completely—“he said, can you put this all in writing?”—and the pair is back on speaking terms. But “there’s a lot to work through there,” Harry continued, explaining why their relationship became so fraught. The fact that Charles was up-close to such a similar situation, with Princess Diana, only made Harry feel more “let down”: “He knows what pain feels like, and Archie’s his grandson,” he said. “But at the same time, of course I will always love him. But there’s a lot of hurt that’s happened and I will continue to make it one of my priorities to try and heal that relationship.”
There has also been significant speculation that it was Charles who expressed concern about Archie’s skin, prompting questions about whether he’s fit to be king. (The other popular theory is Harry’s brother, Prince William.) In any case, Charles certainly doesn’t come off as a good father, and along with the rest never acknowledged that race was a part of the conversation.
Rumors that Harry and William have had a fallout have been mounting for years. And while Harry confirmed that things have changed between them, he also downplayed it. “We’ve been through hell together and we have a shared experience, but we are on different paths,” Harry told Winfrey, stressing that he “love[s] William to bits.” “The relationship is ‘space’ at the moment, and time heals all things, hopefully.”
“My father and my brother, they are trapped,” Harry continued. “They don't get to leave [their roles], and I have huge compassion for that.” He believes Charles has “made peace” with that, and declined to speculate on William’s feelings. Others, however, are happy to do so, such as in the below thread.
After Meghan’s wedding to Harry, the British press reported that she made Kate Middleton cry in a tiff about bridesmaid dresses. According to Meghan, it was actually “the reverse”: “It made me cry. It really hurt my feelings. I don’t say that to be disparaging to anyone, because it was a really hard week of the wedding. Weddings are always stressful, and ultimately, Meghan doesn’t blame the duchess, whom she described as “a good person”: “She was upset about something, but she owned it, and she apologized. And she brought me flowers and a note, apologizing. And she did what I would do if I knew that I hurt someone, right, to just take accountability for it.”
To Meghan, the blame lies with the media, which she said “really seemed to want a narrative of a hero and a villain” between the pair. Besides, it was never something Meghan wanted to discuss: “I don't think it's fair to her to get into the details of that because she apologized, and I’ve forgiven her,” she said. "I would have never wanted that to come out about her ever, even though it happened.”
Meghan claims not to have googled the royals before joining the family, but she did have some familiarity. “Eugenie and I had known each other before I had known Harry, so that was comfortable, and we were friends with them as a couple,” Meghan said of the afternoon she met the queen.
It’s no surprise that Meghan would get along with Sarah Ferguson, who once gave a similar interview to Winfrey. (“I must explain that the British press at the moment is completely and utterly cruel and abusive and so invasive,” the duchess said in 1996.) In fact, she formed a bond with Meghan from the start, by teaching her how to curtsy just before first meeting the queen. “Fergie ran out and said, ‘Do you know how to curtsy?,’” Meghan recalled. She didn’t, so “right in front of the house, we practiced and ran in.”
Queen Elizabeth II
The Crown’s most recent season made a point to stress Queen Elizabeth II’s lack of feeling, and especially towards Diana. (On one occasion, she stands stock still, aghast, when her step-daughter pulls her in for a tight embrace.) But Meghan has had quite a different experience. “There wasn't actually a huge formality the first time I met Her Majesty the Queen,” she told Winfrey. “I met her and apparently I did a very deep curtsy—I don't remember it—and then we just sat there and we chatted, and it was lovely and easy.” In fact, Meghan continued, “the queen has always been wonderful to me. It made me think of my grandmother. She’s always been warm and inviting.”
Harry also praised the queen, but clearly expressed his contempt for her aides. “I’ve never blindsided my grandmother. I have too much respect for her,” Harry said of the widely reported rumors that the queen had no idea “Megxit” was coming. “I hazard a guess that [the story] probably could have come from within the institution.” From the sound of it, so does pretty much everything; the queen does not, as Winfrey put it, “get to do what the queen wants to do.”
“When you're head of the firm, there’s people around you that give you advice,” he said. “And what has also made me really sad is some of that advice has been really bad.” In the days before “Megxit,” for example, the queen invited Harry and Meghan over to Sandringham for a chat over tea, and invited them to stay the night. But the moment they landed, he received a message telling him that actually, the queen was busy, and would be busy all week. The queen later confirmed that she was busy on a phone call, but Harry didn’t push: “I kind of knew what was going on.”
Harry has explicitly compared Meghan’s situation to that of his late mother. And while she died when Harry was 12, he has a feeling how she would have felt. “Touching back on what you asked about what my mum would think of this, I think she saw it coming," Harry told Winfrey. "I certainly felt her presence throughout this whole process."
Her prescience has served Harry well. “My family literally cut me off financially,” he said, explaining the consequences of stepping back. “But I've got what my mum left me, and without that, we would not have been able to do this.”