This is a version of the December 31 edition of CNN’s Royal News, a weekly dispatch bringing you the inside track on Britain’s royal family. Sign up here.
Every family has its breakdowns, but the outside world doesn’t usually hear about them. The royal family doesn’t like to air its dirty laundry in public either, traditionally preferring to adopt the Queen’s mantra of “never complain, never explain.” So, when there’s a wobble in that stiff upper lip, people lap up every detail.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex exposed a major schism in the Windsor clan in March, and gave their story to the world’s most high-profile interviewer, Oprah Winfrey. Much has been written about their revelations. But most of it has been from the Sussex point of view – because that’s pretty much all we have.
There have been indications from the palaces that suggest disquiet, but unofficial policy has been to “retain a dignified silence” in the face of the allegations, which range from racism to neglect.
Emily Nash, royal editor at Hello! Magazine, says there’s “no doubt the Oprah interview had a huge impact on the family and the institution.”
“I think there was a lot of hurt on both sides,” she tells CNN, adding that “the timing of the interview, inadvertently coinciding with Prince Philip’s hospitalization, was unfortunate.”
In the immediate aftermath, the only official statement came from the Queen. There were no words from Princes Charles or William. Instead, both continued their diary of engagements. William was thrown a question in a rare breach of protocol by a British reporter. He responded only to say the royal family “is very much not racist.” Neither has granted any interviews on the subject since, though we did raise it with Prince Edward, who refused to be drawn.