Earlier than Oprah’s Interview With Harry and Meghan, Royal Accusations Fly

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The massive face-off isn’t till Sunday, however the pregame skirmishes have been raging on each side of the Atlantic for days.

When Prince Harry and his spouse, Meghan, current their aspect of a sensational royal rupture to Oprah Winfrey, it’s positive to be one of the anticipated, and most closely spun, tv interviews in current reminiscence.

In tantalizing excerpts dribbled out by CBS, which is broadcasting the two-hour prime-time program, and in scalding allegations about Meghan leaked to a British newspaper, the British royal household and the self-exiled couple are maneuvering furiously earlier than the interview airs to attempt to form the narrative.

Was Meghan the sufferer of a chilly, unwelcoming household that cruelly remoted her after she married Harry and is now defaming her? Or was she a Hollywood diva who mistreated her employees, throwing the Home of Windsor into turmoil and triggering a breach between the household and certainly one of its most beloved younger princes?

All of that is taking part in out in opposition to the backdrop of an ailing household patriarch, Prince Philip; a revered however growing older Queen Elizabeth II; and a household that’s rising from a 12 months of seclusion throughout the pandemic to search out the injuries nonetheless contemporary from Harry and Meghan’s abrupt departure for a brand new life in California.

The newest shot on this public-relations battle was fired on Thursday, when CBS launched a 30-second teaser clip from the interview, wherein Ms. Winfrey requested Meghan how she believed Buckingham Palace would react to her opening up about her life after her fairy-tale marriage to Harry in Could 2018.

“I don’t understand how they might count on that in spite of everything of this time, we might nonetheless simply be silent if there’s an lively function that ‘the agency’ is taking part in in perpetuating falsehoods about us,” mentioned Meghan, referring to the royal household by a nickname usually used to evoke the much less high-minded qualities of the monarchy.

“If that comes with threat of shedding issues,” she mentioned to Ms. Winfrey, “I imply, there’s so much that’s been misplaced already.”

The clip appeared calculated to reply to an explosive report within the Occasions of London on Tuesday {that a} former royal aide to Meghan filed a grievance with the palace in October 2018, accusing her of bullying her employees, decreasing some junior aides to tears, and driving two private assistants out of the royal family.

A spokeswoman for the couple known as the allegations an “assault” on the character of the American former actress — all of the extra painful as a result of she “has been the goal of bullying herself.”

Buckingham Palace, nevertheless, mentioned it was “very involved” concerning the allegations, would look into them and invited former employees members of the couple to participate within the investigation “to see if classes might be realized.”

The spectacle of the royal household conducting a human-resources investigation of certainly one of its most well-known in-laws left longtime observers of the monarchy slack-jawed. They predicted it could result in additional embarrassing disclosures, for the reason that palace didn’t act on the grievance on the time, and different individuals who labored within the palace would possibly take it as an invite to lodge their very own costs of mistreatment.

“They’ve opened an unbelievable can of worms,” mentioned Peter Hunt, a former royal correspondent for the BBC. “Are they actually going to search out her responsible of bullying? Will or not it’s within the type of a #MeToo investigation? It actually feels just like the anarchists have taken over the establishment.”

To some extent, the costs and countercharges signify a conflict of cultures: the old school press leaks of the British media — lengthy utilized by members of the royal household or their allies to settle scores — versus the publicity machine of an American tv community and one of many nation’s strongest media personalities.

CBS and Ms. Winfrey’s firm, Harpo Productions, have stoked expectations for the interview, which shall be broadcast in Britain on Monday by the ITV community, with peekaboo excerpts that present her seated with Harry and Meghan in a relaxed out of doors setting, however supply solely glimpses of what they’re speaking about.

“Had been you silent or have been you silenced?” Ms. Winfrey asks at one level, as Meghan seems to be at her however says nothing. “You’ve mentioned some fairly stunning issues right here,” she says at one other, as dramatic music wells up.

Harry, who will be a part of Meghan for the second half of the interview, seems briefly in an excerpt to say, “My largest concern was historical past repeating itself.” That’s an obvious reference to the destiny of his mom, Princess Diana, who was killed in a automobile accident in Paris in 1997 after a high-speed pursuit involving photographers.

That have left Harry with an abiding animus towards the British press. He and Meghan have each filed privateness lawsuits in opposition to the tabloids, and in a current interview with the late-night talk-show host James Corden, Harry cited the relentless intrusiveness of the press as a serious cause for the couple’s choice to relocate to Montecito, Calif.

Ms. Winfrey, nevertheless, is promising greater than a mere recitation of the couple’s acquainted press grievances. She is promising grime.

“I simply wish to make it clear to everyone that there is no such thing as a topic that’s off limits,” she mentioned. Her good friend, Gayle King, a bunch of “CBS This Morning,” mentioned this week, “I’ve heard from dependable sources, that is Oprah speaking, that it’s the very best interview she’s ever executed.”

George F. Schweitzer, a former head of CBS Advertising and marketing, mentioned he anticipated the community would spare little to advertise the interview, given its mixture of “three magic phrases: ‘Oprah. Harry. Meghan.’”

The timing of the interview, following the flagship CBS Information program “60 Minutes,” would increase its rankings, he mentioned, as will the theme, which is able to enchantment to viewers craving for an escape after a 12 months of dwelling with the coronavirus.

With that sort of advance hype, Buckingham Palace is steeling itself for a tough night. The royal household has a protracted historical past of warts-and-all interviews which have reverberated for years afterward.

In 1994, Prince Charles confessed he had cheated on Diana. A 12 months later, Diana advised an interviewer, “there have been three of us on this marriage.” In 2019, Prince Andrew’s ham-handed protection of his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein, the convicted sexual predator, helped ship Andrew into exile from public life.

This time, nevertheless, Meghan’s status in Britain has suffered even earlier than she has uttered a phrase. The prospect of the interview with Ms. Winfrey, which may cement a story about her struggling by the hands of the royal household, prompted former members of her employees to talk to the Occasions of London about their remedy whereas working for the couple, based on two individuals with information of the scenario.

In October 2018, their communications secretary, Jason Knauf, notified the non-public secretary of Prince William, Harry’s brother, about incidents wherein he mentioned the duchess had manipulated and humiliated employees members, the Occasions of London mentioned. The non-public secretary, Simon Case, is now the cupboard secretary, one of the highly effective posts within the British authorities.

Workers members have been additionally dismayed, the newspaper mentioned, when Meghan wore a pair of earrings to a proper dinner in Fiji that had been given to her as a marriage present by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, three weeks after the killing of the dissident Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. An American intelligence report launched this week concluded that the prince had authorized the assassination.

A spokeswoman for the couple mentioned Meghan was “deeply dedicated to supporting those that have skilled ache and trauma.” She didn’t handle questions concerning the earrings.

In its assertion on the bullying claims, Buckingham Palace mentioned, “The Royal Family has had a Dignity at Work coverage in place for a variety of years and doesn’t, and won’t, tolerate bullying or harassment within the office.”

For Buckingham Palace to be dragged right into a dispute like that is exceedingly awkward. That has sown doubts that the queen or Prince Charles are behind efforts to discredit Meghan. They’re extra prone to be preoccupied by Prince Philip, 99, who’s recovering from a coronary heart process in a London hospital.

However relations between William and Harry proceed to be deeply strained, based on individuals with ties to the palace. Longtime observers of the royal household mentioned that when disputes like this erupt into the open, it normally suggests that somebody — both senior palace officers or a member of the family — did nothing to cease it.

“This faucet might be turned off,” Mr. Hunt mentioned. “The Buckingham Palace little bit of it might be turned off in a nanosecond.”

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