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Meghan and Harry interview: The reactions

March 8, 2021

Reactions to the tell-all interview by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex about their time in the British royal family have ranged from "truly noble" to "self-serving nonsense."

A combination of different newspaper headlines reporting on  the interview
Prince Harry and Meghan's interview with Oprah Winfrey provoked strong reactions in the press

Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, opened up about the struggles of living in the royal family in an interview with television personality Oprah Winfrey, which aired on Sunday in the United States.

The highly-anticipated interview hsa prompted a host of reactions from both sides of the Atlantic and elsewhere.

Reactions in the US

On the US side, most were sympathetic to the couple's plight and decision to leave the royal family.

Star tennis player Serena Williams said she was "proud" of her "selfless friend" Meghan, who she said lives by example "with empathy and compassion."

"She teaches me every day what it means to be truly noble. Her words illustrate the pain and cruelty she's experienced," said Williams.

'They either have to be private citizens or royals'

Poet and activist Amanda Gorman said the royal family "missed out" on Meghan as an "opportunity for change, regeneration, and reconciliation in a new era."

"Royalty is not a shield from the devastation and despair of racism," Bernice King, daughter of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., tweeted in support.

US broadcaster CNN's political correspondent Abby D. Philip tweeted:  "This is heartbreaking."

UK reacts

British broadcaster and morning talk show host Piers Morgan struck a less friendly tone on Twitter, writing: "This interview is an absolutely disgraceful betrayal of the Queen and the Royal Family. I expect all this vile destructive self-serving nonsense from Meghan Markle — but for Harry to let her take down his family and the Monarchy like this is shameful."

He also asked if it was "too late" for an Oscar nomination for Meghan, his comment implying she was acting in the interview.

Dan Wooton, the former executive editor of Britain's famously harsh tabloid newspaper The Sun, said: "Make no mistake, Meghan has just declared war on the Royal Family."

"Surely they should now renounce their titles as Duke and Duchess?" he asked.

The Daily Mail, another British tabloid, laid the blame on Meghan with the headline: "Meghan accuses Palace of racism."

UK Children and Families Minister Vicky Ford focused on the racism allegation made by Meghan, telling broadcaster Sky News: "There is absolutely no place for racism in our society."

Charles Anson, who was the Queen's press secretary between 1990 to 1997, denied Meghan's racism claims in comments to the British public broadcaster BBC.

"I don't think there's a strand of racism within the royal household at all," Anson said.

Will Queen Elizabeth make a statement?

Queen Elizabeth II, the 94-year-old monarch of the British royal family, is not likely to comment. British newspaper The Times reported that the queen herself is not planning on watching the interview.

Birgit Maass, DW's London correspondent, said it was unclear if Buckingham Palace would give an official statement. "There would only be statement if individual members of the palace were attacked," she said. However, the couple was careful to avoid naming individuals during the interview. "It's a tough one for the palace" Maass said.

Queen Elizabeth II wears a blue suit
Queen Elizabeth is not expected to watch the interview with her grandson Prince HarryImage: Steve Parsons/AP/picture alliance

"There will be a fear in the royal family that it could be tainted, but the queen still is somebody who is very popular as head of state," Maass said, adding that questions remain about the future of the royal family near the end of Elizabeth's reign.

The world reacts

In New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a reporter that the interview would not change the country's constitutional ties to Britain as a member of the British Commonwealth.

"I've said before that I've not sensed an appetite from New Zealanders for significant change in our constitutional arrangements, and I don't expect that's likely to change quickly," Ardern said.

Interview aired amid bullying claims

The interview was aired shortly after Buckingham Palace announced that it is investigating allegations that the duchess had bullied members of her staff back in 2018, forcing two of them to quit.

Hostility between the palace and Meghan and Harry has been growing ever since they announced plans to step back from their official senior royal duties in early 2020.

kmm/rt (AFP, Reuters)