Prince Harry did not inform the Queen about the ‘tell-all’ interview he and Meghan are to give to Oprah Winfrey, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
Her Majesty was ‘blindsided’ last week when it emerged that the Duchess of Sussex and her husband had agreed to talk to the American chat show host.
She learned of it only when US TV network CBS hurriedly issued a statement on Monday after a producer working for Ms Winfrey mistakenly alerted ITV to the project.
It is usual for members of the Royal Family to run potential TV interviews past the Queen.
But Harry not only kept the deal secret, sources question whether he instigated the discussions with the Queen over the Sussexes’ ‘divorce deal’ in order for it to be settled before the interview, which was recorded last Tuesday.
Harry and Meghan brought forward the announcement of their ‘wide-ranging interview, covering everything from stepping into life as a Royal, marriage, motherhood [and] philanthropic work’ after ITV were accidentally tipped off about it.
Prince Harry (pictured with Meghan Markle) did not inform the Queen about the ‘tell-all’ interview he and Meghan are to give to Oprah Winfrey, The Mail on Sunday can reveal
Insiders insist the Oprah interview did not influence the decision by the Queen to strip Harry and Meghan of their royal patronages and honorary military titles.
She sent a letter explaining the decision to her grandson after the Oprah interview had been announced, but had written it some days earlier.
In it, she underlined that there could be no ‘half-in, half-out’ role for the Duke and Duchess, including the specific words that ‘in stepping away from the work of the Royal Family it is not possible to continue with the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service’.
That sentence, which was also included in the official Buckingham Palace statement on Friday, is said to have infuriated Harry and Meghan. In their stinging reply, they insisted they would still live ‘a life of service’ away from the Royal Family, adding: ‘Service is universal.’
Explaining the Queen’s position on what constitutes public service, an informed insider last night said: ‘People need to be able to look you in the eye and know that you are here for them, not filming a Netflix documentary.
She learned of it only when US TV network CBS hurriedly issued a statement on Monday after a producer working for Ms Winfrey mistakenly alerted ITV to the project. Pictured: The Queen
It is usual for members of the Royal Family to run potential TV interviews past the Queen. Pictured: Oprah Winfrey
‘Being a Royal is all about public service, not serving yourself. If public service is not your primary purpose, and making money is, then it’s impossible to represent the Queen.’
And a Royal aide said: ‘When someone has dedicated their entire life to duty, as she did on her 21st birthday, she understandably has very strong views on what public duty entails.’
Now, as the Royal Family wait anxiously to see what the Duke and Duchess tell Ms Winfrey when the programme is broadcast on March 7, it can also be revealed that:
- A joint statement on the Megxit outcome from the Duke and Duchess and the Queen was initially planned, but abandoned when the sides could not agree on wording:
- Palace aides were furious at the ‘downright rude’ response to the Queen from the couple which they believe made a ‘mockery of the Queen’s 70 years of service’;
- Harry is understood to have called the Queen last week to ask about the health of Prince Philip.
ITV discovered that the Duke and Duchess were to give an interview with Ms Winfrey when a member of the chat show host’s team requested access to news presenter Tom Bradby’s 2019 interview with Meghan in which she expressed unhappiness at her treatment by the British media.
When ITV approached a spokesman for Harry and Meghan for comment, the decision was made to release a statement revealing the interview.
A source said: ‘They had kept the interview totally secret. The Queen was not told, the Palace was not told.
‘It seems clear from the sequence of events that they wanted and needed to know the final outcome [of the Queen’s decision] before they taped Oprah.’
ITV discovered that the Duke and Duchess were to give an interview with Ms Winfrey when a member of the chat show host’s team requested access to news presenter Tom Bradby’s 2019 interview with Meghan in which she expressed unhappiness at her treatment by the British media
The interview was reportedly filmed last Tuesday in Montecito, the wealthy enclave north-west of Los Angeles where the Sussexes and Ms Winfrey live.
It could be the most explosive royal TV interview since Princess Diana appeared on BBC’s Panorama in 1995. There is frustration on both sides at how Friday’s announcement was handled.
Behind-the-scenes discussions had taken place on a joint statement, but neither side could agree ‘a suitable version of words’. In the end, each side issued their own statement at 12 noon.
Harry loses his three military titles – Captain General of the Royal Marines, Honorary Air Commandant of RAF Honington and Commodore-in-Chief, Royal Navy Small Ships and Diving.
His patronages of the Rugby Football League and Rugby Football Union, plus Meghan’s of the Royal National Theatre and the Association of Commonwealth Universities have both been returned.
The Duke and Duchess have also stepped down as president and vice-president of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust.
Representatives for the Sussexes did not respond to a request for comment yesterday.
Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah Winfrey will ‘make or break’ their fortunes in the US as they try ‘to woo and win over Americans’, experts say
By Caroline Graham for the Mail on Sunday
The interview with Oprah Winfrey will ‘make or break’ the fortunes of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in the US, experts predict.
The 90-minute programme, which will air immediately after CBS’s flagship 60 Minutes show on March 7, is the couple’s chance ‘to woo and win over Americans’. A producer who has worked with Ms Winfrey in the past said: ‘This is make or break for them.
‘People in Britain assume they are famous here but the reality is they are not A-list stars in the same way Beyonce or even the Kardashians are.
‘Most Americans have no idea what they stand for and what they actually do.
‘Of course, we know Harry is Princess Diana’s son but ask your average guy in the street and they likely have no clue about them beyond that.’
He said it was significant that Meghan, who last week announced that she is pregnant with the couple’s second child, intends to speak to Ms Winfrey on her own before Harry joins her later in front of the cameras.
The interview with Oprah Winfrey will ‘make or break’ the fortunes of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in the US, experts predict
‘It seems Meghan wants to state her case and present her narrative about how she was received in Britain and what caused Megxit,’ the producer added.
‘She needs regular Americans to understand what she’s about, like her and then want to click on her Netflix projects or Spotify podcasts.
‘The fact they’ve been given the time slot after 60 Minutes, which consistently wins the ratings war on Sunday nights, should give them a huge audience going in.
‘The question is can they keep those millions of viewers interested enough to keep watching for an hour and a half?’
Why Prince Harry must now offer to step aside from the line of succession, by royal biographer HUGO VICKERS
Few could doubt the anger and frustration felt by Prince Harry as he lost his Royal patronages this week.
His military titles were given to him by the Queen after years of dedication, including two tours of duty in Afghanistan.
The patronages meant a huge deal to him on a deeply personal level – that is not in question.
Even so, it is time for him to accept the logic of the position that he and Meghan have so very deliberately carved out for themselves.
In moving to the States and making his own money, Harry has chosen a life which is incompatible with that of a working Royal.
If you wish to be Captain General of the Royal Marines – as the Duke of Edinburgh was before him for 60 years – then lying barefoot in the Californian sunshine under a fertility tree does not, I’m afraid, quite cut it.
Few could doubt the anger and frustration felt by Prince Harry as he lost his Royal patronages this week, writes HUGO VICKERS
Harry is no longer fully able to support his Royal titles from that distance, although a lucrative deal with Netflix suggests he is willing to cash in on them nonetheless.
And he is certainly doing little for his nation in comparison with the many hard-working – and less senior – Royals who toil in their duties uncomplainingly.
That is why I now believe Harry must take one step further still and do the only honourable thing in the circumstances: offer to step aside from the line of succession.
As the sixth in line to the throne, it would take a catastrophic turn of events for him to be called upon as King. But there remains the chance, and it is only sensible that Harry and the Palace advisers at least consider the possibility.
His military titles were given to him by the Queen after years of dedication, including two tours of duty in Afghanistan. Pictured: The Sussexes
Charles ‘teary-eyed’ at bedside visit to Philip
Prince Charles was said to be teary-eyed after visiting his father Prince Philip yesterday.
But the Duke of Edinburgh was said to be ‘in good spirits’ at the King Edward VII Hospital in Central London, where he has been since Tuesday evening.
The Prince of Wales, 72, wearing a face mask, arrived at 3.30pm and spent half an hour at his father’s bedside.
Pictured: Prince Charles arrives at King Edward VII’s Hospital
He was the Duke’s first visitor since he was admitted. An aide said that as the 99-year-old had been ‘longer than expected in hospital’, the Prince had decided to visit him.
It is understood that Charles, who has received his first Covid-19 jab, made a 200-mile round trip from his home in Highgrove, Gloucestershire, to the hospital, which is currently only considering visitors in ‘exceptional circumstances’ due to the pandemic.
The Duke, who will turn 100 in June, had been expected to be discharged after a few days but is now likely to remain in hospital for ‘observation and rest’ into next week out of an ‘abundance of caution’.
It is thought Charles had not seen his father since before Christmas because of coronavirus restrictions – with the Duke staying at Windsor Castle with the Queen.
Today is Philip’s sixth day in the private facility in London and comes as the fallout from the news about Harry and Meghan’s departure from working royal life continues.
He is understood to have been aware the announcement on Harry and Meghan was due to be released last week.
Philip walked unaided into King Edward VII Hospital on Tuesday evening on the advice of his doctor.
A Royal source said: ‘Following consultation with his doctor, he is likely to remain in hospital for observation and rest over the weekend and into next week.
‘As we have said previously, the doctor is acting with an abundance of caution.
‘The Duke remains in good spirits.’
It is not a comfortable prospect – particularly in the light of the approach he has shown in recent times. Harry and Meghan have turned their backs on the Royal Family. Their public statements have shown disrespect to the Queen.
In forging their own paths, they have also strayed into the political arena. These are hardly the distinguishing features of senior Royals.
The Sussexes had been handed roles as president and vice-president of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, a hugely important cause for the Monarch, and faced rewarding lives fostering environmental and economic cooperation between nations.
But that, it seems, was not enough.
Then there is the prospect of Queen Meghan, which no one wants. The idea that she could end up representing our country is impossible. It simply cannot be.
Today, the Queen finds herself in a delicate position – one of Harry’s making. Her Majesty cannot remove her grandson from the line of succession without it seeming vindictive, something she is most certainly not. Duty comes first, but she is fond of her family.
Yet the alternative, that Harry maintains a claim to the throne, is equally unthinkable. Harry has already made it very clear that he was unhappy in his role as a working member of the Royals. So why would he not take the final step and move aside?
The fact is that the Americans are impressed with lineage and inheritance. Plain old Harry Windsor wouldn’t get much of a look in.
In the first (and sole) episode of their Archewell Audio podcast, the couple introduce themselves simply as Harry and Meghan. But the credits at the end are more formal.
‘The executive producers… are the Duke and Duchess of Sussex,’ a voiceover notes.
The fact is, they will need their Royal links and titles more than ever if they are to make it on their own.
Harry is easy enough to market in his full military regalia, resplendent in a horse-drawn carriage.
But with a backpack and woolly beard, he’s a different prospect altogether. Harry is valued as a member of the Royal Family, not as a tech entrepreneur.
Perhaps there is a more personal lesson. After his own parents divorced, Princess Diana was asked by the Queen whether she wanted to keep her HRH title.
Her response was clear. ‘No,’ she said. ‘No, I don’t.’
Losing the formal HRH title gave her at least part of the freedom she craved.
Harry, in that respect, is much like his mother. He has shown no desire to be King.
It’s likely that he would not want it for his own children, either, having grown up in the shadow of what it means.
It would be far kinder to his grandmother, to the rest of the Royal Family and to himself for Harry to accept that his place in the succession is no longer tenable.
That sacrifice would prove that Harry is respectful of everything his grandmother stands for.
He would retain his dignity, regardless of title, and we would all respect him for it.