By KATIE KINDELAN, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — Prince Harry and Meghan’s bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey Sunday night has lead to reactions across the globe, including from one royal expert who said the revelations were not “necessary” and “full of bitterness.”
“In America, the flag is sacrosanct. To me this is a bit like burning the flag,” ABC royal contributor Robert Jobson said Monday on Good Morning America.
In the two-hour, primetime interview, Harry and Meghan alleged that conversations were had with Harry about the skin color of their son Archie, the first American-British biracial royal born in the U.K., and also widely considered to be the first mixed-race child born into the royal family.
The Sussexes also alleged to Winfrey that Archie was going to be denied a title and security protection, that Harry was cut off financially from his family and that Meghan was suicidal during her pregnancy with Archie and denied mental health help, amid other claims.
Buckingham Palace has not yet responded to claims made by Meghan and Harry in their interview with Winfrey.
“There were so many claims and counter-claims in that interview that I really feel, although the palace is saying nothing at the moment, they probably do have to say something,” said Jobson, a royal editor and author. “Claims of racism and Meghan not getting support when she felt suicidal, it’s really serious stuff.”
OVERNIGHT: Each minute of Prince Harry and Meghan's primetime interview with Oprah Winfrey seemed to contain another bombshell revelation, from the sex of their second child to Meghan's mental health struggles. @JamesAALongman reports.
— Good Morning America (@GMA) March 8, 2021
“I do think they probably have to respond, but equally I do think that Oprah let them off the hook when they were making these claims,” he said. “They didn’t specify who said the things. I think they’re hugely damaging allegations against the royal family, against the crown, which after all is the British system of government.”
“The queen is not some little old granny. She wears the crown,” Jobson added of Queen Elizabeth, the grandmother of Prince Harry. “What they’ve said is disrespectful to the British people as well as the institution of the monarchy.”
Harry and Meghan did go to great lengths in the interview with Winfrey to praise Queen Elizabeth, despite their allegations against the royal institution and the royal family she leads.
“I’ve spoken more to my grandmother in the last year than I have done for many, many years,” Harry told Winfrey, revealing he and Meghan and Archie have video calls with the queen. “My grandmother and I have a really good relationship and an understanding, and I have a deep respect for her. She’s my commander-in-chief, right? She always will be.”
Harry also said the queen has been “amazing throughout” his relationship with Meghan, a sentiment echoed by the duchess, who said the queen was one of the first family members she met in her relationship with Harry.
“It made me think of my grandmother, where she’s always been warm and inviting and really welcoming,” Meghan said of her experience with Queen Elizabeth on their first joint engagement, which took place shortly after Harry and Meghan’s 2018 wedding.
Harry described his current relationships with his father, Prince Charles, and his older brother, Prince William as more strained, though he said in the interview with Winfrey that he loves them both and is hopeful their relationships can heal.
“I love William to bits. He’s my brother. We’ve been through hell together, and we have a shared experience,” Harry said. “But we were on different paths.”
Harry’s note that he and William have “been through hell together” was an apparent reference to the 1997 death of their mom, Princess Diana, who died after a car crash in Paris. Diana, who had divorced Prince Charles one year prior to her death, was in a car being pursued by paparazzi at the time of the crash.
“My biggest concern was history repeating itself, and I’ve said that before on numerous occasions, very publicly,” Harry told Winfrey about the media attention focused on him and Meghan and the lack of support they felt from the royal institution, adding that it was “far more dangerous because then you add race in and you add social media in, and when I’m talking about history repeating itself, I’m talking about my mother.”
In a tell-all interview with journalist Martin Bashir for the BBC’s Panorama program in 1995, Princess Diana spoke about how she was treated by the “establishment” as the wife of Prince Charles, the heir to the throne.
“I don’t think many people will want me to be queen. Actually, when I say many people, I mean the establishment that I’m married into. Because they’ve decided I’m a non-starter,” Diana told Bashir. “Because I do things differently, because I don’t go by a rule book, I lead from the heart, not the head, and albeit that’s gotten me into trouble in my work, I understand that. But someone’s gotta go out there and love people and show it.”
“They see me as a threat of some kind. And I’m here to do good. I’m not a destructive person,” she said.
Roya Nikkhah, royal correspondent for the U.K.’s The Sunday Times, said Monday on GMA that she thinks Harry had not just his mother’s 1995 interview with Bashir in mind, but his mother’s “whole life experience in mind” when making decisions about his family’s future.
How Harry and Meghan's interview parallels Princess Diana's from 1995. @RoyaNikkhah discusses how the Sussexes' conversation with Oprah mirrors the late Princess Diana's revealing interview with Martin Bashir.@MichaelStrahanhttps://t.co/1sUtd0vRRF pic.twitter.com/L1PUPnYokm
— Good Morning America (@GMA) March 8, 2021
“We know how strongly Harry feels about what happened to his mother, the fact that she felt she didn’t get the support she needed when she was a very senior member of the royal family,” said Nikkhah. “And we know how that story ended.”
“My understanding of the setup when Meghan became Harry’s girlfriend and then when she married into the royal family was that she was given a lot of support and that both courtiers and aides and the people in the institution were extremely conscious of mistakes that had been made in the past, not just with Diana but also with the Duchess of Cambridge, a lack of support,” she said. “From what I have been told and a bit of what I saw, [Meghan] was given a lot of support.”
“That said, that’s not how she felt and we know from Meghan’s own words and Diana too, nothing can prepare you for the reality of when you step into that world,” Nikkhah added.
Meghan told Winfrey of her experience leaving her life in the United States and Canada behind to join the royal family, “It’s what you read in fairy tales, you think is what you know about the royals, right, so it’s easy to have an image of it that is so far from reality.”
“And that’s what was really tricky over those past few years, is when the perception and the reality are two very different things and you’re being judged on the perception but you’re living the reality of it, there’s a complete misalignment,” added Meghan, who wed Harry in 2018 and stepped away from the royal family with him two years later, in 2020. “And there’s no way to explain that to people.”
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