Return to Transcripts main page


The Impact Of The Royal Wedding In A Modern World. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired May 18, 2018 - 14:00   ET



CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight, live from Windsor Castle, who can forget that grieving 12-year-old walking behind his mother Princesses

Diana's coffin. Now, 20 years later, Prince Harry prepares for his big day and a thoroughly modern royal marriage to the American Meghan Markle.

I'm joined by a panel of experts to discuss why this wedding is such a big deal for Britain and perhaps even beyond.

Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in Windsor. And the castle is right behind me where tomorrow

another milestone for the British monarchy will take place.

Britain's Prince Harry will marry his fiance Meghan Markle. A decidedly special union as she is an American, an activist, an actress and she is of

mixed race. She is about to become the newest member of the firm as the Royal Family is known, the most exclusive family in the world.

Tonight, we will try to understand what makes this Royal Family different. And why not just the British, but the world's media has been consumed by


Some things don't change. Britain's brutal tabloid press seems to have nixed the father of the bride coming, bowing to pressure. We're told he's

recovering from heart surgery in America.

So, Meghan will break with tradition and walk down the aisle alone. Prince Charles, her soon to be father-in-law will walk her the final lap towards

Prince Harry, for a marriage, they say, will see them forge their own path.


MEGHAN MARKLE, PRINCE HARRY'S FIANCEE: I think in the beginning few months, now being boots on the ground in the UK, I'm excited to just really

get to know more about the different communities here, smaller organizations who are working on the same causes that I've always been

passionate about under this umbrella. And also being able to go around to the Commonwealth, I think it's just the beginning.

PRINCE HARRY: There's a lot to do. There's a lot to do.


AMANPOUR: A lot to do. That was when they announced their engagement. So, let's dive right in with Afua Hirsch, the author of "Brit(ish): On

Race, Identity and Belonging". Patrick Jephson, who was chief of staff to Harry's mother, Princess Diana. He's penned a book titled 'The Meghan

Factor'. And Roya Nikkhah, she recently interviewed Prince Harry and she's the UK's "Sunday Times" royal correspondent.

Welcome to you all. It's unusual for me to be talking about a royal wedding and getting so deeply involved in this kind of story, but I really

believe that it's possibly a game-changing event for this country and for the monarchy. I want to ask all of you first what you think are the

takeaways from this union.

First you, Afua?

AFUA HIRSCH, AUTHOR, BRIT(ISH): ON RACE, IDENTITY AND BELONGING: For me, this is really a question of symbolism. And I think the major role that

the Royal Family play in this country are one of identity.

They offer British people, a sense of cultural continuity and tradition in times of change. But also, they have been a family that is perceived, and

it has been, exclusively white. And in a country that is so multicultural, perhaps one of the highest rates of interracial relationships in the world,

and as a mixed race, British person growing up here myself, I notice that, certainly, I think this idea that Britishness itself is a white identity.

So, for me, the symbolism around Meghan Markle entering that family is the end of that and the idea that there is nothing inherently white about the

Royal Family and there's nothing inherently white about Britishness, and that is a very profound symbol.

AMANPOUR: Patrick?


AMANPOUR: You're very inside because you were in the palace.

JEPHSON: I was. And it intrigues me to hear the importance that the racial aspect is getting. I was always struck when I was working for

Princess Diana how welcome she was in the ethnic minority communities and, obviously, around the world. Five continents, we went to.

And I can remember a gentleman in Brixton of, obviously, African heritage, saying she is one of us. And it made me think what is it that made

Princess Diana one of us to so many people around the world.

And it is, I think, that sense of exclusion, inclusion and the fact that Meghan is making the transition from being one of them to be one of us, I

think, is fascinating.

AMANPOUR: And, Roya, you've interviewed Prince Harry. It does seem like the sort of lineage - he's getting a lot of example from his mother or is

that just romantic thinking?

ROYA NIKKHAH, UK SUNDAY TIMES ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: No, I don't think it is actually. I mean, whenever I have spoken to him about anything, he has

always talked about how important his mother is to him, not only in the work, the choices he makes a life.

And I think Meghan is part of that. I mean, when they first got engaged, although Diana is no longer around and he's talked about the fact that

Meghan and Diana would have been thick as thieves and would have loved each other.

[14:05:11] And I think, for me, this wedding is so interesting. It's all about Harry - we've seen his ups and downs. He has had some hiccups in his

life, some big ones. And now, we see him in that next stage of his life, finally settled, embarking on a new chapter, with someone by his side. And

they're going to be a real power couple.

AMANPOUR: And I want to pick up on what you just said because we have that soundbite of when they were talking about what Princess Diana would make of

this moment. We're going to play it because it's very poignant actually.


PRINCE HARRY: Oh, they'd be thick as thieves, without question. I think she would be over the moon, jumping up and down, so excited for me.

But then, as I said, would have probably been best friends - best friends with Meghan. So, no, it's - it is days like - days like today when I

really miss having her around and miss being able to share the happy news. But with the ring and with everything else that's going on, I'm sure she is


MEGHAN MARKLE: She's with us.

PRINCE HARRY: I'm sure she's with us, yes, jumping up and down somewhere else.


AMANPOUR: So, the ring, of course, was designed from her jewels, her diamond.

Afua, again, you've written so much about this. I mean, it's almost as if your book was designed for this moment in British history, in English

history where we have really - people have talked about how Brexit has unleashed sort of a strain of nativism, foreigners, Britons of African or

Caribbean descent feel a little excluded. We've had the whole Windrush scandal. The immigration debacle here.

Again, you've been seeing some of the people who turned up here in Windsor and talking to members of the black community here about all of this.

HIRSCH: Yes, I think it's complicated. We do have very deeply ingrained historical structural problems of race in Britain. No event, no wedding,

no one woman could change that.

But it's been remarkable to me the way people have been reacting to this. If you go around Windsor, and I have family here, so I come here quite

often, it's not a particularly diverse place.

AMANPOUR: No, it's not.

HIRSCH: The streets are lined with people of all races. There are so many African-Americans here. We think some of them with emotion, feeling that

one of them is entering the palace.

And I think that is the thing about Meghan. For many people, whose heritage has made them feel very excluded from this place, from this sense

of tradition, they now feel more included. And I think that is important.

And this is the tension that the Royal Family embody. We are a society that claims to be about social mobility, equality of opportunity, a

meritocracy. This is the family that represents intergenerational inherited privilege. It's not a modern concept.

And so, the challenge for them is how they can retain the tradition that people do love, while also making themselves something more people can

relate to. And I don't think that his relationship is a cynical ploy to make them more relevant to a new generation.

But had they wanted to do that, they could have hardly have chosen a better move because Meghan Markle is not only of African heritage, but she's also

a women who is self-made.

She's not from abject poverty, but she has built her own career. She has used her celebrity to champion causes she cares about. She's followed her

passions with a lifestyle blog. She is the kind of woman that I think many young women would look like to be.

AMANPOUR: Well, I mean, you raise all these issues. Obviously, Patrick, you've written the book, "The Meghan Markle Factor". And you have some

actually quite interesting conclusions because, I think, you think it could go one way or the other for the Royal Family. It could either be a roaring

success, this marriage, or it could be the beginning of what?

JEPHSON: Well, it certainly marks a change. And it will be very interesting to see historically whether it remarks an upswing or downswing.

The reality is that we are facing in the not-too-distant future an earthquake in the royal landscape. When Queen Elizabeth reign comes to an

end, as it sadly must, then the whole royal picture is going to shift. And where will Meghan sit in that new picture.

I think it could be a wonderful opportunity. The risk, though, is that since Harry is so far down the pecking order now, in constitutional terms,

he's relatively insignificant.

AMANPOUR: The seventh now with the birth of the latest -


AMANPOUR: Is it sixth? OK.

JEPHSON: Yes, I think so.

NIKKHAH: I must point out that when the royal engagement was announced, one of the newspapers, one of the most read newspapers in Britain

immediately reacted with a succession diagram, which basically had the message, don't worry, she'll never be queen. And that is a factor.

AMANPOUR: And don't worry her maybe black children -

NIKKHAH: Exactly.

AMANPOUR: Might never be in line.

NIKKHAH: I think had this been William, it would have been a different conversation. And it's wonderful to see how much people are welcoming her,

but I can't help but question whether Harry is allowed a little bit more leeway than that the direct heir to the throne would have been now.

JEPHSON: But he does require a real reconciliation over the tradition and the new. And Harry being the seventh in line - sixth or seventh is a great

opportunity to try that out, but also the Royal Family is a very inclusive family as it's proving now.

AMANPOUR: And Roya, again, you've really talked to Harry. And explain a little bit because he is - he has had his bad boy days. There's no doubt

about it. And some quite unforgivable antics he got up to in his fancy dress parties and all this other stuff.

[14:10:11] But he is also, let's not forget, he - like all the royal men trained as a military and he went to war in Afghanistan. He went to war

twice. And he was really devoted to it. And he was - tell me about how he felt when again the tabloids outed him and he had to leave.

NIKKHAH: Well, the Australian and American publications, let's not forget - let's not color all the British press with the same brush.

But I've spoken to Harry a lot about his time in the military, 10 years with The Household Cavalry. And he will say that was the making of him.

It shaped him. And that's why we're going to see so much military presence and regiments he's linked with at tomorrow's service, including The

Household Cavalry.

It was devastating to him. He said it was the darkest time in his life after his mother's death. When his cover was blown the first time, he was

pulled out very quickly. That's why the likes of (INAUDIBLE) and Major General Smyth-Osborne were determined to get him back.

AMANPOUR: The army chief.

NIKKHAH: The generals. They got him back into Afghanistan (INAUDIBLE). He served his time. And being able to come back and say to other soldiers,

other normal people in the outside world, I've had a job, I served my time, that has made him not only more fulfilled, but much more relevant to other


It is one of the reasons he's so popular. He is a veteran. He has done his time in war.

AMANPOUR: And they are honored in any society. I mean, veterans are honored. They have a very special place in any society. And I just run

another little piece of video. When he started the Invictus Games, which was for wounded veterans back in 2014 and that sort of given him another

sort of outlet to continue. Let's play this for a second.


PRINCE HARRY: Don't forget about our friends who didn't come home from the battlefield. Don't forget those at home who still need our support. And

don't forget that you are proving to the world that anything is possible. You are Invictus. Let's get started.


AMANPOUR: So, let's get started. So, we know sort of what Harry is going to be doing with his career and his life and we will get to the mental

health heads together, the whole family, as some people call them, the fab four now, William and Kate, Harry and Meghan, with the mental health issue,

which is huge in this country and in many other parts of the world.

But let's talk about Meghan. You mentioned that she has all these accomplishments. She is a self-made woman. But, of course, she has had to

give them all up, all what has made her Meghan Markle.

She's had to give up acting. She's had to give up her activism. She has had to give up her lifestyle blogs and the lot. What do you think is going

to happen to her?

NIKKHAH: It is remarkable, isn't it? There is no context in British life, I can think of, where we would accept the idea that automatically, because

of marriage, a women should give up her previous career and the Royal Family is almost the last institution where that's somehow seen as


Meghan is a feminist. She's continued to say that after engagement. She has named Harry as a feminist, which I think should be a given, but still

feels quite novel.

And again, it would be such a profound contradiction if somebody who self- identified as a feminist and has been champion feminist almost since she was a child was now forced to stop doing some of the things that have

identified her in the past because she is a member of the Royal Family.

We've seen traditionally worldwide go from (INAUDIBLE) more safe roles like charity - and not to downplay the role of charity, but it's not same as

activism. And Meghan has been an activist. So, I personally would like to see the Royal Family get with the program and realize that it's an era in

which we expect young people to have a level of self-determination.

AMANPOUR: But I see Patrick who is again - comes from the inside of the Royal Family, laughing his head off at that terrible prospect.

JEPHSON: I'm not laughing at the terrible prospect, but I do think that you're right. It is going to require a change. But her previous

experience is not wasted. She is going to build on it, but she has to be wise how she builds on it.

What she's getting now is a voice beyond anything she could have dreamt of. She has a fabulous platform. She has almost unlimited potential for

pursuing the things that she's passionate about.

But she is going to have to be wise. It is desperately important she does not use any platform to take positions on matters of public policy. She is

not a politician.

The Royal Family is here as a focus of unity above politics. And if she is tempted to use her new platform to push political points of view, as she

has in the past -

AMANPOUR: Well, we are going to play a soundbite to remind -

JEPHSON: Then it's going to be trouble.

AMANPOUR: Yes. Well, let's remind. She talked again about women at the United Nations and let us just play that for a second.


MARKLE: Women need a seat at the table. They need an invitation to be seated there. And in some cases, where this isn't available, well, then,

you know what, then they need to create their own table. We need a global understanding that we cannot implement change effectively without women's

political participation.


AMANPOUR: I mean, she is very poised. That was three years ago. Now, she is about to enter this incredible new situation, but with a massively

amplified voice.

Roya, how do you think she's going to fit in? I mean, from what you know and what you've seen, can she trim herself, how long will the romance that

the British press has with her and the British people last and what might be the trigger points?

NIKKHAH: I personally think she doesn't so much need to trim herself as to sort of adjust - as Patrick says, find a way to adjust into the new way of

saying things in a slightly more - less political way.

I mean, we have seen a statement of intent from her, I think, in the engagement she's done with Harry so far. She has talked about female

empowerment and gender equality in joint engagements with William and Harry and Kate.

So, I think when we see her join their foundation as the fourth patron, which she will do tomorrow upon marriage, we're going to start to see some

more of the issues that she'll get more involved in.

And I don't think - she's not going to become a surrendered, silent princess. I mean, I wrote a story that she is going to give a speech at

her wedding. That's unprecedented. 0 AMANPOUR: Will she?

NIKKHAH: Yes, she is. Tomorrow evening.

AMANPOUR: In the chapel?

NIKKHAH: No, in the evening - at the evening reception. She is still going to have a voice and she will use that voice.

She has, as Patrick knows about than anyone, a team of people around her, who will advise her and encourage her on how to best use that without

causing controversy. She is no fool.

AMANPOUR: I must say, the notion, in 2018, that women's rights is somehow controversial needs to be axed right here. I mean, that should be a royal

decree. It should be perfectly laudable royal pursuit.

Patrick, from the inside, you were around helping, shaping Princess Diana in some of the most dark times that she experienced and basically she went

out into the light. She found herself after some really terrible times and hard done by -

JEPHSON: I've always loved that saying, you don't know how strong a woman is until she's in hot water, like a tea bag.

Well, Diana found herself in very hot water after her separation and indeed running up to it. And a lot of people were surprised that she discovered

in herself that she had the real steel and ambition and determination and indeed defiance to refute those who wanted her to go away quietly.

She found a role for herself. She built it. It required a great deal of hard work. I think, as you know, appearing effortless, making it all look

easy, being able to be open and accessible and emotionally articulate requires a lot of hard work and preparation.

So, it's something that Meghan, I'm sure, will understand, if she doesn't already. Being a perfect princess requires a lot of hard work, hard slog

learning the stuff, learning the nuances, particularly given the trans- Atlantic cultural shift she's now going to have to adapt to.

AMANPOUR: Can I just go back to what happened slightly earlier today when Prince Harry on the eve of his wedding and his brother Prince William, who

will be his best man, they came out here in Windsor to meet and greet so many of the people who've come.

And there are going to be a lot of members of the public who are invited to witness the wedding. There are no politicians apparently. That was very

deliberate. It's going to be friends, people who espouse causes that they believe in and et cetera.

But Harry and William did come out, but I am sure that they did not meet apparently many, many homeless people in Windsor. You said that it's not a

very diverse town, this. And indeed, it's a pretty rich town. But there are a lot of homeless people here. And our crews caught out with some of

them and this is what they were telling us about the day and about how they plan to get through it.


STUART: That's what make us unique, in a way, in this country. It is our Royal Family. It don't matter who you are, have it for Queen and country

because if we didn't have the Queen here, half of these people wouldn't be here. Because they come to see Elizabeth and her family, do you know what

I mean? They ain't come to see a couple of homeless people.

SUNNY: They just think because the wedding is going, they think we're going make, we're making loads of money or something like that. We're not

making loads of money. It's just about survival every day.

STUART: Many things said about what's going to happen to us. They're going to basically do what they want.

SUNNY: You'd think with the amount of money they're spending on the wedding, I mean the amount of that - that's taxpayer's money isn't it?

You'd think they'd be able to build houses or something like that, but they can't house like, 10, 12 people. If I had a roof over my head, I wouldn't

be sitting here.

If I had a roof over my head, I wouldn't be sitting here. I don't do this for like, you know, for kicks or fun or as a job or to make money, and all

that kind of stuff like some of these people think that we do. I do this because I don't have a choice.

Congratulations to the guy, do you know what I mean? Like, if I'm here, I'll enjoy the festivities as much as everyone else.

STUART: He's a happy lad because he's found what he needs. He's got his - well, they have each other. You know, and they're down to earth because I

read that he proposed over a roast chicken dinner. How down to earth is that?


AMANPOUR: I mean, it really is - that's the voice from the street. And it's really remarkable that, even in their desperate need, they were

actually wishing them well.

NIKKHAH: That's because, I think, the Royal Family do represent the sense of identity. Everybody, regardless how they feel about the monarchy, can

relate to the need to have institutions that they believe in, traditions that they subscribe to, it's a very foundational human need, I think.

And for many rich people, the Royal Family are part of that. That's why they love royal weddings. It's the pomp and the pageantry. A lot of this

tradition was invented quite recently, but it doesn't matter because people believe it's existed for thousands of years.

AMANPOUR: And the police have told us that they're actually going to try to secure the homeless people's properties for them and they're going to

try and help them out for at least tonight. We don't quite know what is going to happen afterwards.

And I was actually struck by how nobody stopped and give any of those people money, coffee or anything else.

Patrick, you are an American citizen.


AMANPOUR: People would be surprised to know, but you are. How and why is this such a big deal in America? I mean, boatloads of press are here. As

Afua said, African Americans are here. And it's really captured the United States. Obviously, she is a American.

JEPHSON: Well, the Americans love the Royal Family. I think in some sort of sense of loss since 1776. And they like the idea of that there is some

connection still with the old country.

But there is the new thing this time. I've noticed, further to Afua's point, I've been struck by the number of African-American women who I've

met at various business events, who have come up to me and say, we're so thrilled about Meghan joining the Royal Family, who would have thought, who

would have thought it? And I was really taken aback. It means so much.

So, their eyes are on tomorrow. They are going to be on the future of Meghan and Harry. They're going to hope that Harry makes her happy and

that she will be able to continue with so many of the things that they can identify with.

And really, the opportunity this marriage offers to strengthen and help protect the future of the relationship between America and Britain is

stupendous. I mean, it's very well timed. And I think it augurs very well for the future.

AMANPOUR: And we just saw a picture of her with her mum there. And, Roya, Steven said that they may miss the good old days when there was a monarchy

there. They don't. They're very happy with their democracy.

But what about here. There are periodic spikes of republicanism, people wanting to do away with the monarchy. I mean, this at a time when we've

seen the crown and the success of that and the Queen really sort of emerging much more and much more dynamic as she gets older and older in

very many public - even interactions on television, et cetera.

What do you think it'll do for that endless argument about should we have a monarchy, shouldn't we have a monarchy?

NIKKHAH: I mean, that argument, it raises its head occasionally here. But even in the spikes of republicanism, I mean after death of Princess of

Wales when the Royal Family went through rocky times, even then overwhelmingly, every time this country has polled, it wants to retain a

monarchy by a really, really long - a big margin.

This, I think, there will be a spike in the Royal Family of a popularity. They are such a popular couple. As Afua has mentioned, I just think this

is going to open up the Royal Family to a whole new constituent of people who weren't interested in the Royal Family before and finally make an

institution that has at times seemed clunking and old fashioned and moves much more slowly than society seem that much more relevant and more

reflective of society.

So, I think because it's no coincidence the Queen has appointed Harry as the Commonwealth Youth Ambassador. So, Harry and Meghan are going to go

traveling the world over the next year.

She's canny, the Queen. She knows what an asset Meghan is going to be and she will use that asset for the future of the monarchy.

AMANPOUR: That's so interesting. I was going to bring that up. The Commonwealth is something maybe is not so familiar to the US. Maybe it is.

But it's Britain's last ties to empire, but it's all over the world and people really are fond of it. We just had a big Commonwealth meeting.

It's the last the Queen will ever host. And she doesn't travel anymore.

[14:25:12] And this connection, particularly in Brexit Britain, with the rest of the world and him being the ambassador and her as well, I guess,

with him, is going to be a big deal.

NIKKHAH: Definitely. I mean, as you said, in a post-Brexit landscape, our Royal Family are constantly sent abroad by the Foreign Office with the

Royal Family's approval and they will be dispatched as global envoys for exactly that purpose, to boost our trade, to boost those bilateral

relations when we need them more than ever after Brexit.

AMANPOUR: And I am going to just end by playing a little piece of "Suits", so we get reacquainted with Meghan Markle in the center screen.


RACHEL: Mike Ross? Hi. I'm Rachel Zane, I'll be giving your orientation.

MIKE: Wow. You're pretty.

RACHEL: Good. You hit on me. We can get it out of the way that I am not interested.

MIKE: I'm sorry, I wasn't hitting on you -

RACHEL: Trust me. I've given dozens of these and, without fail, whatever new hotshot it is thinks that because I'm just a paralegal, that I will

somehow be blown away by his dazzling degree. Let me assure you, I won't.

MIKE: I was?


MIKE: I was hitting on you?

RACHEL: You were. Take notes, I'm not going to repeat myself.


AMANPOUR: Go, Meghan. And that is it, Afua Hirsch, Patrick Jephson, Roya Nikkhah, thank you very, very much for joining us.

And that's it for our program tonight. Remember, you can always listen to our podcast and see us online at and follow me on Facebook and

Twitter. And follow CNN's coverage of the royal wedding. Thanks for watching. Goodbye from Windsor.