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
53 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
8:37 a.m. ET, March 8, 2021

In new CBS clip, Harry says racism was a "large part" of why he and Meghan left Britain

Prince Harry said racism played a "large part" in why he and Meghan left the UK, according to a new clip of the Oprah Winfrey interview published by CBS on Monday.

"Did you leave the country because of racism?" Winfrey asked Harry. "It was a large part of it," he replied.

He goes on to recount an anecdote at a fundraiser where an unnamed person who had close links to a lot of British newspaper editors told Harry that the press would destroy the lives of him and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex.

When he said the man to elaborate, the person told Harry: "You need to understand the UK is very bigoted."

"And I stopped and I said, 'the UK is not bigoted -- the UK press is bigoted, specifically the tabloids. Is that what you mean?'" Harry said. But the person repeated the phrase: "The UK is bigoted."

Harry disagreed with the man's statement but added, "unfortunately, if the source of information is inherently corrupt or racist or biased, then that filters out to the rest of society."

8:05 a.m. ET, March 8, 2021

Will the Sussexes' interview cause a bigger crisis for the palace than Princess Diana's 1995 tell-all?

From CNN's Max Foster

The stream of revelations from the Sussexes to Oprah Winfrey could cause a bigger crisis for the monarchy than an explosive interview Princess Diana gave to the BBC a quarter of a century ago, CNN's royal correspondent Max Foster said Monday.

In 1995, Diana participated in an explosive interview for the BBC's Panorama program. She had separated from Prince Charles three years prior, and Charles had sensationally admitted to having an affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles (now his wife) after years of tabloid speculation in a documentary released in 1994. But it was Diana's simple utterance "Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded" that turned her sit-down interview into of the most-watched moments in UK broadcasting history.

"This for many people was built as Meghan’s Diana interview," Foster said, adding that Diana's interview with "caused a crisis in the monarchy which lasted years this [the Winfrey interview] could potentially do the same, it could potentially be even worse."

Foster said the palace could not deny Meghan's experience of racism, making it "an incredible difficult situation for them to be." Furthermore, there is a duty of care issue. "There was a suicidal member of the family who wasn’t supported, even went to the HR department, and they said they couldn’t help," he said in reference to Meghan's comments about her mental health during her time as a royal.

"These are major allegations against the royal family and the palace because they weren’t just talking about the palace here, they were talking about family members," Foster said in reference to Meghan said that an unnamed member of the institution had "concerns" about the skin color of her son.

"She’s accusing them of institutional racism and that’s a massive accusation and it feels really real when you watch the two hours. It's a very powerful interview."

7:33 a.m. ET, March 8, 2021

It's 7.30 a.m. in New York and 12.30 p.m. in London. Here's what you need to know:

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

For American audiences just waking up, or British viewers on a lunch break, here's what you need to know about Meghan and Harry's tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey and the fallout in the UK.

On suicidal thoughts: Meghan said that life within the royal family was so isolating, lonely, and lacking in support that she had experienced suicidal thoughts. When Winfrey asked if she had been driven to the verge of suicide, Meghan replied, "Yes."

She hadn't wanted to admit it, but she eventually 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," Meghan said.

Harry added that after she confided in him, he, too, had been in "a very dark place" -- but wanted to be there to support his wife.

On their children: The couple dropped two bombshells about their children: First, and most shocking, that in the royal institution there had been "concerns and conversations about how dark (Archie's) skin might be when he was born," said Meghan. Harry confirmed the conversation, but declined to reveal who had posed those questions, or any other details about the exchange.

On a happier note, Harry and Meghan also revealed they are expecting a daughter this summer.

On conflicts with the royal family: Meghan told Winfrey that though she had been welcomed by the Queen and other members of the family, she was given little guidance or support -- when she began having suicidal thoughts and asked for help, they told her no.

She also denied 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, adding that Kate has apologized and the issue has been resolved.

Harry spoke about his own tensions with his family; his father, Prince Charles, stopped taking his calls while the couple prepared to step away from the royal family.

"I feel very let down because he's been through something similar. He knows what pain feels like. And Archie is his grandson," Harry said. 

Charles has since started taking his calls again. “I will always love him,” Harry said. “I will continue to make it one of my priorities to try and heal that relationship.”

On being trapped and saved: Harry said that he had also been trapped within the system -- but he hadn't known it until he met and married Meghan. In that way, she saved him, he said.

But Meghan turned it around on him. "You made a decision that certainly saved my life --and saved all of us," she told Harry, referring to the decision to step away from the royal family.

Calls for investigation: An official from Britain's opposition Labour Party said Buckingham Palace should launch an investigation into allegations of racism made in the interview.

She told Sky News that "if there are allegations of racism, I would expect them to be treated by the Palace with the upmost seriousness and fully investigated."

Vicky Ford, the UK Minister for Children, said there was no place for racism in British society.

Read CNN's 11 key takeaways from the Oprah interview here.

7:20 a.m. ET, March 8, 2021

Meghan and Harry’s "first chance to really say what they feel"

From CNN's Max Foster

Harry and Meghan pictured as they arrive to attend the annual Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey in London on March 9, 2020.
Harry and Meghan pictured as they arrive to attend the annual Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey in London on March 9, 2020. Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Sunday's interview with Oprah Winfrey was Prince Harry and Meghan's "first chance to really say what they feel," CNN's royal correspondent Max Foster said Monday, citing sources close to the pair.

They have never been able to do that before because they have always been in this institution where they didn’t represent themselves, they represented the monarchy, anything they said was seen as speaking for the monarchy. They were utterly restricted in everything they did. And then you see the relief and the sort happiness there is something real there."

He adds that while there are "some grey areas" on some of the things said in the interview, Meghan's experience of racism will change a few opinions when the British public sit down to watch the UK broadcast of the interview on Monday night.

"But ultimately you can’t argue particularly on Meghan’s experience of race, you can’t argue with that, that is genuine, it’s real and I think they are going to see that tonight and it may change a few opinions," he said.

6:48 a.m. ET, March 8, 2021

Buckingham Palace should launch an investigation on any allegations of racism, says opposition

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite

Buckingham Palace is pictured in London on March 1.
Buckingham Palace is pictured in London on March 1. Kate Green/Getty Images

A lawmaker in Britain's opposition Labour party said Monday that Buckingham Palace should launch an investigation into allegations of racism following Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey.

During the interview, Megan listed a number of incidents, including an unnamed individual in the institution who had "concerns" over how dark her son's skin would be.

Kate Green, UK shadow education secretary, told British broadcaster Sky News Monday that "if there are allegations of racism, I would expect them to be treated by the Palace with the upmost seriousness and fully investigated."

When asked if this interview demands a response from the Palace, Green said: "I'm sure the Palace will be thinking very carefully about that and I certainly think people will be wondering what is going to be said but there's never any excuse in any circumstances for racism and I think it is important that action is taken to investigate what are really shocking allegations."

Read more here.

6:07 a.m. ET, March 8, 2021

Queen's former press secretary says Oprah interview has raised 'family issues' but denies racism

From Chloe Adams in Glasgow

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

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have raised “issues that need to be looked at carefully,” Charles Anson, a former press secretary to Queen Elizabeth said, while insisting there “wasn’t a strand of racism” within the royal household.

Speaking to BBC on Monday, he recalled an “overwhelming sense of welcome” for Meghan around the time of their wedding in 2018, which he covered as a royal commentator.

I think that it was both evident in the press and from the reaction of the public, and I don't think there's a strand of racism in that within the royal household at all, I think, is much more in the broadcast media. I think such racism as exists tends to be most active on social media,” Anson, who held the position of press secretary from 1990 to 1997, told the BBC.   
Charles Anson, former press officer for Queen Elizabeth II, is pictured in Munich, Germany, in 2015.
Charles Anson, former press officer for Queen Elizabeth II, is pictured in Munich, Germany, in 2015. Sven Hoppe/dpa/picture alliance/Getty Images

During the wide-ranging interview with Oprah Winfrey, Prince Harry said his father, Prince Charles, had stopped taking his calls at one point.

When questioned over a potential rift with Prince Charles, Anson said he was under the impression that the family had parted on good terms.

My feeling is that with the Queen and Prince Philip and Prince of Wales, of course, his father would have tried to have been helpful and continued to try to be helpful and there was no question about it. They went to California, very much with the good wishes and supportive of a queen and her family.”  

Meghan told Winfrey that she was provided with no mental health support. Anson defended the Palace to the BBC, saying he understood there was a robust medical structure within the house to deal with such issues.

“I remember it being very responsive both to the members of staff and, of course, for the queen and members of the family,” he told the BBC.   

5:13 a.m. ET, March 8, 2021

'No place for racism in our society,' says UK Minister for Children

From Sharon Braithwaite in Pisa, Italy

MP Vicky Ford is seen in the House of Commons during Prime Minister's Questions in December 2018.
MP Vicky Ford is seen in the House of Commons during Prime Minister's Questions in December 2018. House of Commons/PA Images/Getty Images

Vicky Ford, the UK Minister for Children, said Monday there was no place for racism in society, after Meghan and Harry raised the issue during a tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey.

"I haven't seen the full interview so I will not comment on it, but just to reaffirm, there is absolutely no place for racism in our society. And we all need to work together to make sure that doesn't happen," Ford told British broadcaster Sky News Monday.

During the interview, Meghan revealed their son Archie wouldn't receive a title or security, and within the royal family, there were several "concerns and conversations about how dark (Archie's) skin might be when he was born."

3:18 a.m. ET, March 8, 2021

If you're just tuning in, here's what you need to know

Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions
Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions

For audiences just tuning in, or British viewers just waking up, here's what you need to know about Meghan and Harry's tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey.

On suicidal thoughts: Meghan said that life within the royal family was so isolating, lonely, and lacking in support that she had experienced suicidal thoughts. When Winfrey asked if she had been driven to the verge of suicide, Meghan replied, "Yes."

She hadn't wanted to admit it, but she eventually 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," Meghan said.

Harry added that after she confided in him, he, too, had been in "a very dark place" -- but wanted to be there to support his wife.

On their children: The couple dropped two bombshells about their children: First, and most shocking, that in the royal institution there had been "concerns and conversations about how dark (Archie's) skin might be when he was born," said Meghan. Harry confirmed the conversation, but declined to reveal who had posed those questions, or any other details about the exchange.

On a happier note, Harry and Meghan also revealed they are expecting a daughter this summer.

On conflicts with the royal family: Meghan told Winfrey that though she had been welcomed by the Queen and other members of the family, she was given little guidance or support -- when she began having suicidal thoughts and asked for help, they told her no.

She also denied 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, adding that Kate has apologized and the issue has been resolved.

Harry spoke about his own tensions with his family; his father, Prince Charles, stopped taking his calls while the couple prepared to step away from the royal family.

"I feel very let down because he's been through something similar. He knows what pain feels like. And Archie is his grandson," Harry said. 

Charles has since started taking his calls again. “I will always love him,” Harry said. “I will continue to make it one of my priorities to try and heal that relationship.”

On being trapped and saved: Harry said that he had also been trapped within the system -- but he hadn't known it until he met and married Meghan. In that way, she saved him, he said.

But Meghan turned it around on him. "You made a decision that certainly saved my life --and saved all of us," she told Harry, referring to the decision to step away from the royal family.

2:32 a.m. ET, March 8, 2021

Britain wakes up to an online furor after Meghan and Harry's interview

It's been a furious few hours since Meghan and Harry's interview with Oprah Winfrey, and social media has been alight with criticism toward the royal family -- largely from outraged Americans and the Black community.

Now, Britain is waking up to the aftermath.

All eyes are on the royal family, which has not yet publicly responded to the interview, or the allegations of racism. It had also adhered to its usual protocol of silence ahead of the broadcast, even as speculation and anticipation rose.

Some viewers in the United States have suggested that given Harry and Meghan's previous negative experiences with the press, they may continue to face attacks for the statements they made -- and for even doing the interview in the first place.

"Let's just bring up the potential ways that the press will make Meghan a villain again so no one is surprised," tweeted American author Morgan Jerkins. The media could accuse Meghan of "lying about the skin color (conversation)," or of "acting" since she's a former actress, or even of brainwashing Harry into thinking he, too, is trapped by the royal institution, she wrote.
"They'll say: She's had all the riches and privileges so she was not depressed. She planned to get into the royal family and cause chaos. She hates her sister-in-law and this is revenge."

Even before the sun had risen over London, British tabloids already began speculating about the potential fallout. The Sun newspaper wrote that Meghan may "never return to Britain after angering Royal Family," citing unnamed "insiders [who] fear she and Prince Harry could have burnt their bridges."

And numerous conservative figures in the UK have begun to echo several of the points Jerkins brought up, with some casting doubt on the apparent sincerity of Meghan's comments.