Ever since it aired, viewers have been eager to hear the royal family’s response to Harry and Meghan’s Oprah interview. The couple made some bombshell revelations during their tell-all—including allegations of racism within the royal household, the palace’s “invisible” contract with the press, and Harry’s strained relationships with other members of the royal family; just to name a few. But now that so much has been said by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, what was The Firm’s reaction?
At first, when Meghan, 39, and Harry, 36, announced their tell-interview for CBS, Oprah With Meghan and Harry: A CBS Primetime Special on Sunday, March 7, Buckingham Palace expressed little concern ahead of the interview. “The Duke and Duchess are no longer working members of the royal family and therefore any decisions they take with regard to media commitments are matters for them,” the palace wrote in a statement at the time. “As non-working MRF they are under no obligation to inform the Royal Household of such plans.”
Despite their casual statement, however, multiple reports pointed to a growing concern among members of the royal family and palace staffers over the couple’s sit-down with Oprah. The New York Post’s Page Six previously reported that royal officials worried about the interview’s “potential to turn explosive”—much like Princess Diana’s infamous interview with Martin Bashir on the BBC in 1995, in which she disclosed that there were “three of us” in her marriage to Prince Charles, alluding to his affair with Camilla Parker Bowles.
And turn “explosive,” it did. From Meghan’s allegation that a royal family member was concerned about the color of Archie’s skin before his birth, to Harry’s assertion that he was “let down” when his family failed to protect him and his wife from media scrutiny, the Sussexes’ interview has turned out to be “as major as Diana’s Panorama interview definitely,” royal author Sarah Gristwood told Vanity Fair on March 8.
The site also reported that various royal households were “locked in crisis meetings” for most of the day following Meghan and Harry’s interview. As for how each member of the royal family is handling it all, keep on reading to find out.
Prince William & Kate Middleton
Ahead of Meghan and Harry’s interview, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were already feeling “appalled,” Us Weekly reported. The insider told the magazine, “It’s just beyond the pale for William and Kate, especially in light of the dreadful timing with [Prince] Philip in the hospital. They are utterly aghast.”
After the special, royal expert Kate Nicholl told Entertainment Tonight that Prince William is the most “devastated” by Meghan’s comments about Kate. In the interview, Meghan told Oprah that Kate made her cry over a disagreement over Princess Charlotte’s flower girl dress for her royal wedding in May 2018. Meghan’s comment about Kate came after Oprah asked her about a 2018 report that she was the one who made Kate cry. Meghan refuted the headline and the “reverse happened.”
“William is devastated by this interview,” Nicholl said. “Don’t forget that the Duchess of Cambridge is being dragged into this whole saga and William will hate that.”
William shut down claims that the royal family is “racist” on March 11 after a Sky News reporter asked him about Harry and Meghan’s interview. “We are very much not a racist family,” he said as he walked away with Kate. The reporter also asked if William had spoken to Harry since the interview, to which he responded, “No, I haven’t spoken to him yet, but I will do.”
A source also told Us Weekly on March 10 that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were the “most shocked” to learn about Meghan’s suicidal thoughts while in the royal family, as well as the revelation that a royal voiced their “concerns” about how “dark” Archie’s skin tone could be.
“William and Kate were in total shock after hearing what Meghan and Harry said,” the insider said. “What shocked them the most was Meghan’s suicidal thoughts and their quotes on a royal family member mentioning Archie’s skin color. William and Kate knew about some of their troubles with palace aides, but nothing to this extent.”
A source told The Sunday Times on March 20 that William thought Harry’s comments that he’s “trapped” by the royal family were “off the mark.” “He has a path set for him and he’s completely accepting of his role. He is very much his grandmother’s grandson in that respect of duty and service,” the insider said.
The source went on to add that the Duke of Cambridge was “reeling” after the interview aired. “His head is all over the place on it,” the insider continued.
During Harry’s interview with Oprah, he claimed that William and Charles were too “trapped” by the royal family to see the truth. “I am part of the system with them, I always have been, but I guess — and I’m very aware of this — my brother can’t leave that system, but I have,” Harry said. “My father and my brother are trapped. They don’t get to leave, and I have huge compassion for that.”
The Prince of Wales is said to be “in a state of despair” after Harry revealed that his father had stopped taking his calls following his decision to step back from his role as a senior working member of the royal family with Meghan. The Duke of Sussex noted during his interview with Oprah that he felt “let down” by Charles as “he’s been through something similar, he knows what the pain feels like, and Archie’s his grandson,” he said, alluding to the death of his mother, Princess Diana.
“For Prince Harry to say that he felt let down by his father must have been a difficult thing to say and hard for Charles to hear,” Gristwood told Vanity Fair. “Now, just at a time when by and large Charles had started to look like a more popular King than one would have guessed, here’s a major blow to his reputation. That his son felt let down by him.”
Gristwood added, “It’s hard to know if Harry is aware of the damage this has done. Did he actually intend to cast this damaging light on his father and his family? We don’t know.”
Harry, for his part, promised to continue working to “heal” his relationship with his father. “At the same time, of course, I will always love him,” he told Oprah. “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.”
Charles was also asked about the interview by Sky News at an engagement at Jesus House church in London on March 9. “Sir, can I ask what did you think of the interview?” the reporter asked. As for Charles’ response, a Daily Express writer who was there tweeted, “He chuckled and carried on walking.”
Queen Elizabeth II
On March 9, Buckingham Palace issued a statement on behalf of Her Majesty addressing Meghan and Harry’s interview. The Queen, 94, was both “saddened” and concerned about the issues raised during their tell-all.
“The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan,” the statement began. “The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning. While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately. Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved family members.”
Privately, however, Her Majesty’s initial reaction to the interview was to reportedly skip watching it altogether, a source confirmed to Vanity Fair on March 8. Instead, the site reports that the Queen was “briefed by aides over breakfast Monday morning.”