Harry and Meghan interview fallout

By Jessie Yeung, Aditi Sangal, Tara John, Zamira Rahim and Christopher Johnson, CNN

Updated 12:11 p.m. ET, March 8, 2021
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1:57 a.m. ET, March 8, 2021

Striking parallels between Princess Diana and Meghan's experiences, says royal commentator

Princess Diana at a banquet in New Zealand on April 20, 1983.
Princess Diana at a banquet in New Zealand on April 20, 1983. Tim Graham Photo Library/Getty Images

Kate Williams, a UK-based historian and royal expert, told CNN that Harry and Meghan's interview with Oprah showed stark similarities with Princess Diana's experience.

Harry drew these similarities too, saying in the interview that he couldn't imagine what his mother had gone through and that he didn't want history to repeat itself.

"Diana, too, suffered as well at the hands of the press. She was criticized, she was attacked, both before and after the divorce," said Williams. "She talked about how she wanted to speak up and make her decisions and her voice clear."

"Diana spoke up about how she suffered within the royal family and now we've heard the same (from Meghan). Diana had thought of self harm, Diana was very distressed in the royal family, and she had thoughts of suicide. And now we say Meghan saying she had the same thoughts."

The couple had revealed in the interview that the royal institution had withdrawn their security, and that their son Archie would also be denied security because he didn't receive a title. Security was a major source of concern for the couple -- Meghan said she had written letters to the royal family, pleading them to provide her husband security.

"Harry of course, he was so young when she died, and he knew that she didn't have her security after her divorce -- which for him, I think, added to her tragic death," said Williams.

1:35 a.m. ET, March 8, 2021

Extraordinary tell-all interview lifts lid on life inside Britain's royal family

In her first public comments since she and her husband Prince Harry announced their plans to step back from senior roles in the British royal family, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, described herself as the victim of an image-obsessed Buckingham Palace, which weighed in on everything from how dark her son Archie's skin color would be to how often she went to lunch with friends.

The TV special was highly anticipated because Harry and Meghan are now allowed to speak more freely about the royal family due to their effective split from the palace.

And the couple did not hold back.

Read the full CNN report:

12:53 a.m. ET, March 8, 2021

Harry, Meghan and the power of their story

Opinion from CNN's Richard Galant

Whatever magic is left in the House of Windsor today, after "The Crown," may not survive Sunday night's airing of Oprah Winfrey's interview with Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex.

Meghan told Winfrey that the royal family, aka "The Firm," was "perpetuating falsehoods" against her. Her words evoked memories of the tension between Buckingham Palace and the late Princess Diana in the 1990s.

The palace announced Wednesday that it was investigating accusations that the duchess had bullied employees in the royal household and that it was "very concerned." After the investigation was reported, Holly Thomas noted, "Meghan's spokesman said the duchess was 'saddened by this latest attack on her character,' and a spokesperson for the Sussexes dismissed the Times report as 'a calculated smear campaign.'"

Thomas added that the palace's "eagerness" to respond to the allegations stands "in stark contrast to its previous reactions to the substantially more serious complaints against the Queen's third child, Prince Andrew, the Duke of York. These have been minimal, and resolutely supportive of the prince ..."

Peggy Drexler wrote, "It's easy to feel bad for Harry, who grew up in the spotlight, and for Meghan, who many would say both pursued that attention and fought it." For all his privileges, "since he was small, Harry's life was one of being followed, trailed. He was young when his mother, Princess Diana, was pursued to her death by paparazzi, but old enough to remember."

Read the full opinion piece here:

1:52 a.m. ET, March 8, 2021

Amanda Gorman and Bernice King among Black women standing up for Meghan

Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman speaks during the inauguration of US President Joe Biden on the West Front of the US Capitol on January 20 in Washington, DC.
Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman speaks during the inauguration of US President Joe Biden on the West Front of the US Capitol on January 20 in Washington, DC. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Members of the Black community -- and especially Black women -- are making themselves heard on social media in the aftermath of Meghan and Harry's interview with Oprah.

Many reminded viewers that the racism Meghan faced is a daily reality for the community. Others praised Harry for admitting his own ignorance and privilege regarding racial prejudice, and standing by his wife in the face of public vitriol.

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

"I’m grateful that Meghan Markle is still here," she added in a series of separate tweets. "We can know racism exists in an institution and still hurt for someone who was hurt by it."

22-year-old Amanda Gorman, who recited her poem at Joe Biden and Kamala Harris' inauguration, tweeted in support of Meghan as well.

"This isn't Meghan's princess ‘happy’ ending. But sometimes change, the decisions that bring us the most hurt, aren't about about happiness, but healing," she wrote. "Unclear if this will change the Royal family, but Meghan's strength will certainly redefine family everywhere. Think of the women who will be inspired to stand up for their lives, the partners who will be kinder & more courageous than the kin they were born into."

In her inaugural poem "The Hill We Climb," Gorman confronted America's racist history and ongoing conflicts head-on.

"We the successors of a country and a time / Where a skinny Black girl / Descended from slaves and raised by a single mother / Can dream of becoming president / Only to find herself reciting for one," she read.

"We are striving to forge a union with purpose / To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man."

12:34 a.m. ET, March 8, 2021

Serena Williams decries the "sexism and racism" that Meghan faced

Tennis player Serena Williams and her husband Alexis Ohanian arrive for the wedding ceremony of Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and actress Meghan Markle at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, in Windsor, on May 19, 2018.
Tennis player Serena Williams and her husband Alexis Ohanian arrive for the wedding ceremony of Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and actress Meghan Markle at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, in Windsor, on May 19, 2018. Ian West/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

American tennis star Serena Williams tweeted a statement about her good friend Meghan after the Oprah Winfrey interview, expressing support and anger for what the Duchess of Sussex has had to face.

"Meghan Markle, my selfless friend, lives her life -- and leads by example -- with empathy and compassion," Williams wrote, referring to Meghan by her full name before she was married. "She teaches me every day what it means to be truly noble. Her words illustrate the pain and cruelty she's experienced."

"I know first hand the sexism and racism institutions and the media use to vilify women and people of color to minimize us, to break us down and demonize us. We must recognize our obligation to decry malicious, unfounded gossip and tabloid journalism. The mental health consequences of systemic oppression and victimization are devastating, isolating and all too often lethal."

"I want Meghan's daughter, my daughter and your daughter to live in a society that is driven by respect," she added.

The tennis phenom and the Duchess of Sussex are close friends, having met a few years ago at a charity event. Meghan has attended the US Open to cheer on Williams, and Williams co-hosted a baby shower for Meghan in 2019 when she was pregnant with Archie.

11:41 p.m. ET, March 7, 2021

Meghan spoke out about race. America responds

CBS
CBS

In their interview with Oprah Winfrey, Harry and Meghan alleged that their son Archie's race had been a concern in the royal institution, with conversations about "how dark" his skin would be.

During the interview, Harry also spoke about how Meghan's biracial background made it a uniquely challenging situation. Everybody in the royal family lives under a certain amount of pressure -- but it was "far more dangerous" for Meghan due to her race, he said.

The allegations sparked outrage almost immediately on social media among Americans, with countless posts expressing sympathy for the couple and criticism for the royal family's response to the crisis.

"(Meghan) was suicidal and begged for help," tweeted Meena Harris, author and niece of US Vice President Kamala Harris. "Oprah bout to fight somebody her damn self."

"Meghan is living the life Diana should have, if only those around her had been as brave as she was. Meghan isn’t living a life without pain, but a life without a prison," tweeted Amanda Gorman, America's youngest inaugural poet. "Meghan was the Crown's greatest opportunity for change, regeneration, and reconciliation in a new era. They didn't just maltreat her light--they missed out on it."

Kizzmekia Corbett, a viral immunologist at the National Institutes of Health, tweeted that she wanted to give Meghan a hug. "My heart just breaks for her," she wrote. "Protect. Black. Women."

The revelations come half a year after last summer’s racial reckoning, sparked by the Black Lives Matter protests which turned the spotlight onto a variety of historical injustices.

In Britain, protests centered on symbols tied to the country’s colonial past, with demonstrators toppling a statue of slave trader Edward Colston in the city of Bristol. However, the royal family, which sits at the summit of the British class system, had largely escaped the type of scrutiny applied to other institutions.

10:44 p.m. ET, March 7, 2021

Prince Harry and Meghan continue to draw from Princess Diana's influence

Harpo Productions/Joe Pugliese
Harpo Productions/Joe Pugliese

The late Princess Diana has remained a strong influence in the life of son Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, as was evident throughout their interview with Oprah Winfrey.

When the couple revealed that the royal family had cut them off financially for stepping back from their royal duties, Harry also said he relied on his inheritance from Princess Diana.

"I've got all my mum left me. And without that, we would not have been able to do this," he said. "She saw it coming and I certainly felt her presence throughout this whole process."

Meghan appeared to pay tribute to Princess Diana by wearing a sparking diamond bracelet once owned by her late mother-in-law.

When the Duchess of Sussex revealed that she was struggling with suicidal thoughts, she said she turned to one of Princess Diana's best friends:

"I didn't know who to even turn to in that. And one of the people that I reached out to, who's continued to be a friend and confidant, was one of ... Diana's best friends. Because it's like, who else could understand what it's actually like on the inside?" she told Winfrey.

Harry has also frequently explained his decision to leave the royal family out of his worry of "history repeating itself," referring to Princess Diana's troubles within the family.

10:41 p.m. ET, March 7, 2021

Here are the biggest revelations from Harry and Meghan's interview

Harpo Productions/Joe Pugliese
Harpo Productions/Joe Pugliese Harpo Productions/Joe Pugliese

Oprah Winfrey's broadcast interview with Harry and Meghan has ended. Here are the biggest takeaways:

  • Meghan's suicidal thoughts: She revealed that life within the royal family was so isolating, lonely, and lacking in support that she had experienced suicidal thoughts. She told Harry because "I knew that if I didn't say it, that I would do it -- and I just didn't want to be alive anymore."
  • Archie's race: The couple's son, Archie, wouldn't receive a title or security, Meghan revealed -- and within the royal family, there were several "concerns and conversations about how dark (Archie's) skin might be when he was born." Harry confirmed these conversations -- but added that he would never share details about them.
  • It's a girl! The couple, sitting side by side, revealed that they are expecting a girl in the summer.
  • The royal wedding: They had gotten married three days before the glamorous royal wedding, Meghan said -- and the vows from that private wedding are framed in their home.
  • Trapped without knowing: Harry said that, like Meghan, he had also been trapped within the system -- but he hadn't known it. He added that his brother and father were also trapped, and that the royal institution was a stifling environment.
  • Harry and his family: Harry revealed that his father, Prince Charles, had stopped taking his calls while the couple transitioned into their new roles after stepping away from the royal family. Charles has since started taking his calls again. Harry expressed his love for his brother, Prince William, but their relationship is experiencing some "space" at the moment.
  • Meghan and the royal family: She had been welcomed into the royal family, and said the Queen had been wonderful and welcoming -- but beyond that, there was nearly no guidance or support. She wasn't allowed to leave the house for months due to concerns regarding optics. When she finally expressed her battered mental health and asked the institution for help, she says she was told no.
  • Meghan and Kate: Meghan denied the rumors that she had made Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, cry during her royal wedding. In fact, it was the other way around -- a disagreement with Kate had made Meghan cry, she said. Kate has apologized and the issue has been resolved -- but the public attacks had been hard to bear with no way of speaking the truth, said Meghan.
10:22 p.m. ET, March 7, 2021

Harry on relationship with Prince William: "Time heals all things"

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry attend the opening of the Greenhouse Sports Centre on April 26, 2018 in London.
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry attend the opening of the Greenhouse Sports Centre on April 26, 2018 in London. Toby Melville/WPA Pool/Getty Images

Harry had said earlier in the interview with Oprah Winfrey that he loves his brother Prince William "to bits," despite frequent rumors and speculation of sibling conflict.

But "the relationship is space at the moment," Harry added. "And time heals all things, hopefully."

He also said that though his father, Prince Charles, had stopped taking his calls for a while during the exit process, they are now speaking again.