Earlier than Oprah’s Interview With Harry and Meghan, Royal Accusations Fly

The massive face-off isn’t till Sunday, however the pregame skirmishes have been raging on each side of the Atlantic for days.

When Prince Harry and his spouse, Meghan, current their facet of a sensational royal rupture to Oprah Winfrey, it’s certain to be one of the crucial anticipated, and most closely spun, tv interviews in current reminiscence.

In tantalizing excerpts dribbled out by CBS, which is broadcasting the two-hour prime-time program, and in scalding allegations about Meghan leaked to a British newspaper, the British royal household and the self-exiled couple are maneuvering furiously earlier than the interview airs to attempt to form the narrative.

Was Meghan the sufferer of a chilly, unwelcoming household that cruelly remoted her after she married Harry and is now defaming her? Or was she a Hollywood diva who mistreated her employees, throwing the Home of Windsor into turmoil and triggering a breach between the household and considered one of its most beloved younger princes?

All of that is enjoying out towards the backdrop of an ailing household patriarch, Prince Philip; a revered however getting old Queen Elizabeth II; and a household that’s rising from a 12 months of seclusion through the pandemic to search out the injuries nonetheless contemporary from Harry and Meghan’s abrupt departure for a brand new life in California.

The most recent shot on this public-relations battle was fired on Thursday, when CBS launched a 30-second teaser clip from the interview, wherein Ms. Winfrey requested Meghan how she believed Buckingham Palace would react to her opening up about her life after her fairy-tale marriage to Harry in Could 2018.

“I don’t know the way they may anticipate that in any case of this time, we might nonetheless simply be silent if there’s an energetic position that ‘the agency’ is enjoying in perpetuating falsehoods about us,” stated Meghan, referring to the royal household by a nickname typically used to evoke the much less high-minded qualities of the monarchy.

“If that comes with danger of shedding issues,” she stated to Ms. Winfrey, “I imply, there’s rather a lot that’s been misplaced already.”

The clip appeared calculated to answer an explosive report in The Instances of London on Tuesday {that a} former royal aide to Meghan filed a grievance with the palace in October 2018, accusing her of bullying her employees, decreasing some junior aides to tears, and driving two private assistants out of the royal family.

A spokeswoman for the couple referred to as the allegations an “assault” on the character of the American former actress — all of the extra painful as a result of she “has been the goal of bullying herself.”

Buckingham Palace, nonetheless, stated it was “very involved” in regards to the allegations, would look into them and invited former employees members of the couple to participate within the investigation “to see if classes may be realized.”

The spectacle of the royal household conducting a human-resources investigation of considered one of its most well-known in-laws left longtime observers of the monarchy slack-jawed. They predicted it might result in additional embarrassing disclosures, because the palace didn’t act on the grievance on the time, and different individuals who labored within the palace may take it as an invite to lodge their very own prices of mistreatment.

“They’ve opened an unbelievable can of worms,” stated Peter Hunt, a former royal correspondent for the BBC. “Are they actually going to search out her responsible of bullying? Will it’s within the type of a #MeToo investigation? It actually feels just like the anarchists have taken over the establishment.”

To some extent, the costs and countercharges symbolize a conflict of cultures: the old style press leaks of the British media — lengthy utilized by members of the royal household or their allies to settle scores — versus the publicity machine of an American tv community and one of many nation’s strongest media personalities.

CBS and Ms. Winfrey’s firm, Harpo Productions, have stoked expectations for the interview, which will likely be broadcast in Britain on Monday by the ITV community, with peekaboo excerpts that present her seated with Harry and Meghan in a relaxed out of doors setting, however provide solely glimpses of what they’re speaking about.

“Had been you silent or have been you silenced?” Ms. Winfrey asks at one level, as Meghan seems at her however says nothing. “You’ve stated some fairly surprising issues right here,” she says at one other, as dramatic music wells up.

Harry, who will be a part of Meghan for the second half of the interview, seems briefly in an excerpt to say, “My largest concern was historical past repeating itself.” That’s an obvious reference to the destiny of his mom, Princess Diana, who was killed in a automotive accident in Paris in 1997 after a high-speed pursuit involving photographers.

That have left Harry with an abiding animus towards the British press. He and Meghan have each filed privateness lawsuits towards the tabloids, and in a current interview with the late-night talk-show host James Corden, Harry cited the relentless intrusiveness of the press as a significant cause for the couple’s choice to relocate to Montecito, Calif.

Ms. Winfrey, nonetheless, is promising greater than a mere recitation of the couple’s acquainted press grievances. She is promising filth.

“I simply need to make it clear to everyone that there is no such thing as a topic that’s off limits,” she stated. Her buddy, Gayle King, a bunch of “CBS This Morning,” stated this week, “I’ve heard from dependable sources, that is Oprah speaking, that it’s the very best interview she’s ever accomplished.”

George F. Schweitzer, a former head of CBS Advertising, stated he anticipated the community would spare little to advertise the interview, given its mixture of “three magic phrases: ‘Oprah. Harry. Meghan.’”

The timing of the interview, following the flagship CBS Information program “60 Minutes,” would increase its scores, he stated, as will the theme, which is able to enchantment to viewers craving for an escape after a 12 months of dwelling with the coronavirus.

With that form of advance hype, Buckingham Palace is steeling itself for a troublesome night. The royal household has a protracted historical past of warts-and-all interviews which have reverberated for years afterward.

In 1994, Prince Charles confessed he had cheated on Diana. A 12 months later, Diana informed an interviewer, “there have been three of us on this marriage.” In 2019, Prince Andrew’s ham-handed protection of his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein, the convicted sexual predator, helped ship Andrew into exile from public life.

This time, nonetheless, Meghan’s status in Britain has suffered even earlier than she has uttered a phrase. The prospect of the interview with Ms. Winfrey, which might cement a story about her struggling by the hands of the royal household, prompted former members of her employees to talk to The Instances of London about their therapy whereas working for the couple, in line with two individuals with information of the scenario.

In October 2018, their communications secretary, Jason Knauf, notified the non-public secretary of Prince William, Harry’s brother, about incidents wherein he stated the duchess had manipulated and humiliated employees members, The Instances of London stated. The non-public secretary, Simon Case, is now the cupboard secretary, one of the crucial highly effective posts within the British authorities.

Workers members have been additionally dismayed, the newspaper stated, when Meghan wore a pair of earrings to a proper dinner in Fiji that had been given to her as a marriage reward by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, three weeks after the killing of the dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. An American intelligence report launched this month concluded that the prince had authorized the assassination.

A spokeswoman for the couple stated Meghan was “deeply dedicated to supporting those that have skilled ache and trauma.” She didn’t handle questions in regards to the earrings.

In its assertion on the bullying claims, Buckingham Palace stated, “The Royal Family has had a Dignity at Work coverage in place for various years and doesn’t, and won’t, tolerate bullying or harassment within the office.”

For Buckingham Palace to be dragged right into a dispute like that is exceedingly awkward. That has sown doubts that the queen or Prince Charles are behind efforts to discredit Meghan. They’re extra prone to be preoccupied by Prince Philip, 99, who’s recovering from a coronary heart process in a London hospital.

However relations between William and Harry proceed to be deeply strained, in line with individuals with ties to the palace. Longtime observers of the royal household stated that when disputes like this erupt into the open, it normally suggests that somebody — both senior palace officers or a member of the family — did nothing to cease it.

“This faucet may very well be turned off,” Mr. Hunt stated. “The Buckingham Palace little bit of it may very well be turned off in a nanosecond.”

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