By KATIE KINDELAN, ABC News
(NEW YORK ) — Duchess Meghan is speaking out about the freedom she feels since she and Prince Harry stepped away from the royal family last year.
In a newly-released clip of Meghan and Harry’s highly-anticipated interview with Oprah Winfrey, airing this Sunday, Winfrey reveale.d that she asked Meghan for an interview just before her 2018 wedding to Harry, but that Meghan politely declined, saying it wasn’t the right time.
Meghan responded that she wasn’t even allowed to have that conversation with Winfrey on her own, and that other people from the royals’ communications team had to be with her during the call.
In response to Winfrey’s question of “What is right about this time?” for an interview, Meghan responds, “Well, so many things.”
“We’re on the other side of a lot of life experience and also that we have the ability to make our own choices in a way that I couldn’t have said yes to you then. That wasn’t my choice to make,” said Meghan. “So, as an adult who lived a really independent life, to then go into this construct that is different than what I think people imagine it to be, it’s really liberating to have the right and the privilege in some ways to be able to say yes, I’m ready to talk.”
“To be able to just make a choice on your own and just be able to speak for yourself,” added Meghan, who gave up her acting career when she wed Harry.
Winfrey was a guest at Harry and Meghan’s wedding, and the couple now lives near her in the Santa Barbara area of California.
Their two-hour, primetime interview, airing Sunday on CBS, has put Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, back in the glare of the public spotlight.
This week, as clips of the interview were released, the Times of London reported Tuesday that Meghan faced a bullying complaint from a close adviser at Kensington Palace.
Buckingham Palace then announced it plans to open an investigation into allegations of bullying made against the duchess, allegations that Meghan has strongly denied.
Harry and Meghan will not take part in the palace’s investigation, but senior aides are expected to be questioned.
“Buckingham Palace has opened a can of worms by saying they don’t tolerate bullying,” said ABC News royal contributor Robert Jobson. “I think this must go much wider than Meghan herself because it will involve other members of the royal family and also other seniors member of staff.”
“I think to actually focus all attention on Meghan is particularly unfair. It seems to me that in a hierarchal situation like a palace, where staff can’t really answer back, there are bound to be situations like this,” he said. “I think the palace has really opened something that they probably won’t be able to put back in a box.”
In response to the allegations reported in the paper, a spokesperson for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex told ABC News on Tuesday that they’ve “addressed these defamatory claims in full” to the Times in a letter, which has not been publicly released. The spokesperson also said Meghan is “saddened” by the news.
“We are disappointed to see this defamatory portrayal of The Duchess of Sussex given credibility by a media outlet,” a Sussex spokesperson wrote in a statement. “It’s no coincidence that distorted several-year-old accusations aimed at undermining The Duchess are being briefed to the British media shortly before she and The Duke are due to speak openly and honestly about their experience of recent years.”
“The Duchess is saddened by this latest attack on her character, particularly as someone who has been the target of bullying herself and is deeply committed to supporting those who have experienced pain and trauma,” the spokesperson added. “She is determined to continue her work building compassion around the world and will keep striving to set an example for doing what is right and doing what is good.”
Meghan has not yet directly responded to the statement from Buckingham Palace announcing the investigation.
Harry and Meghan are also facing pressure to delay the airing of their interview with Winfrey because of the hospitalization of Harry’s grandfather, Prince Philip. The 99-year-old husband of Queen Elizabeth has been hospitalized in London since Feb. 17 and underwent a procedure this week to treat a pre-existing heart condition, according to Buckingham Palace.
ABC News royal contributor Omid Scobie explained that Harry and Meghan waited to do a sit-down interview with Winfrey until the conclusion of Meghan’s privacy case with Associated Newspapers’ Ltd., publisher of The Mail on Sunday, a U.K. tabloid.
A judge in the U.K. ruled last month that the Mail on Sunday invaded Meghan’s privacy by publishing large parts of the personal letter she sent to her now-estranged father Thomas Markle before her wedding to Harry. On Friday, the judge ruled that Associated Newspapers’ Ltd. needs to publish an official notice laying out what happened in their legal battle with Meghan.
“It wasn’t until they won that case, or proved their point, that they were able to confirm with Oprah [Winfrey] that they finally wanted to set the record straight,” said Scobie. “From what I hear, they’re very looking forward to having their story finally out there.”
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