It seems it might all be unravelling for Meghan and Harry.
Gripping television it may have been, as Harry set about his family with an at times cold and ruthless detachment, but viewers were entitled to ask — and to expect — that these assertions would be questioned.
In the space of almost 90 minutes, the reputations of the monarchy and of individual Royal Family members were dismantled.
Yet even the most egregious of the couple’s inflammatory remarks, such as those about racism, were allowed to escape serious scrutiny.
It is hard to imagine a Dimbleby, a Paxman, or a Humphrys allowing so many damaging statements to pass without drilling down to find context and perspective. But that’s what Oprah did.
According to Harry and Meghan, the star-studded wedding watched by the world — and which British taxpayers funded to the tune of more than £30 million — was an expensive sham.
Instead, they told a slack-jawed Oprah that they’d actually plighted their troth in a secret ceremony 72 hours earlier.
‘Three days before our wedding, we got married,’ Meghan claimed. ‘No one knows that. But we called the Archbishop, and we just said: ‘Look, this thing, this spectacle is for the world, but we want our union between us.’
‘So, like, the vows that we have framed in our room are just the two of us in our backyard with the Archbishop of Canterbury.’ Harry added, singing: ‘Just the three of us!’
It was quite the revelation. But if there really were just ‘three’ people present, then a legal wedding can’t actually have happened.
This is because the law dictates that anyone marrying in England needs two witnesses, as well as the person officiating. In other words, at least five people must be there.
Furthermore, if what Harry and Meghan told Oprah was true, it follows that the Archbishop of Canterbury, the man in charge of the worldwide Anglican communion, had not only broken the law but then presided over a fake royal wedding at St George’s Chapel, at Windsor Castle, on May 19, 2018, in the presence of the groom’s grandmother, the Queen, who is the titular head of the Church of England.
This didn’t happen, according to the Special Licences Section of the Office of the Archbishop, which commented this week: ‘A special license was issued for the marriage in St George’s.’ So what really happened in the couple’s ‘backyard’? According to an informed source at Lambeth Palace, the episode Meghan refers to was actually a ‘rehearsal’ of the wedding ceremony, during which — as is normal — the couple went through their wedding vows.
At its conclusion the archbishop, Justin Welby, also blessed the couple. What he did not do was marry them.
Asked about her half-sister Samantha Markle, her father’s daughter by his first marriage, who has penned a tell-all book, Meghan responds: ‘I think it would be very hard to tell all when you don’t know me.’
She said she had grown up as an only child and had last seen her sibling, ’18, 19 years ago . . . and ten years before that.
Not true, says Samantha, who has been a persistent critic of her sister, citing this graduation picture of the two of them, which she says was taken in 2008.
‘We’ve got photographs over a lifespan of us together. So how can she not know me?’
Samantha also dismissed Meghan’s claim that her half-sister had changed her name back to Markle — her married name was Grant — only after Harry arrived on the scene.
Samantha says the name change was in 1997 — and she has the certificate to prove it.
Staff DID fight for them
Whatever took place during the wedding dispute, Meghan appears to have been hugely upset that the claim she’d ‘made Kate cry’ ended up in print.
She told Oprah that she found it ‘hard to get over the Palace’s failure to then put her version of events on the record.
Later, she elaborated: ‘They were willing to lie to protect other members of the family, but they weren’t willing, to tell the truth, to protect me and my husband.’
It’s unclear (because Oprah failed to ask) who exactly these ‘liars’ were. Or what ‘lies’ they supposedly told. It seems to me that the American public is not best served by a woman who does not ask any questions. However, the convention would have made it impossible for royal press officers to make any comment on what was a deeply personal (and private) incident in which basic facts were likely to be in dispute.
As an insider said ‘There were clearly two versions of the same event. Whatever the institution said would only draw more attention to it.’
Palace press officers are, of course, public servants. Unlike Hollywood PR agents, they cannot — and should not — contest every single false rumour.
Conveniently ignored by Meghan in this whole rumpus is the fact that Palace spin-doctors did indeed go to war on her behalf on several high-profile occasions, knocking down many stories that were put to them (and were not published as a result).
Notably, they formally denied stories about her alleged extravagance in the refurbishment of Frogmore Cottage. They also brought two cases to the Press regulator, Ipso, on the Sussexes’ behalf, winning one and losing the other.
The truth about royal protocol and princes
When their son was born, Harry and Meghan chose not to take up his courtesy title, the Earl of Dumbarton. Neither would he be called ‘Lord Archie’, the established form for the son of a Duke. Instead, plain old ‘Archie’ would do.
According to their biographer and favoured journalist Omid Scobie, this was ‘all part of giving him as normal a life as possible.
That was the story, at least. But behind the scenes, it turns out that the issue was, in fact, the subject of a furious dispute.
Meghan — who elsewhere in her interview with Oprah had insisted she wasn’t much bothered about titles — complained that ‘they’ (by which she appeared to mean Palace officials) ‘didn’t want him to be a Prince or Princess.
Viewers were told that this supposed snub was delivered around the same time as ‘conversations about how dark his skin might be.
In other words, Meghan appeared to be suggesting that it was racially motivated.
In fact, royal protocol dictates that the great-grandchild of a monarch does not normally become a Prince until their grandparent takes the throne.
Later in the interview, Meghan seems belated to acknowledge this fact, saying: ‘There’s a convention . . . I forget if it was a George V or George VI convention, that when you’re the grandchild of the monarch — so when Harry’s dad becomes king — automatically Archie and our next baby would become Prince or Princess.’
However, she then claims plans are afoot to ‘change the convention for Archie’.
Indeed, Prince Charles is thought to be in favour of a slimmed-down monarchy, with fewer princes and princesses. But this shift pre-dates Harry’s marriage and has nothing to do with race.
Archie’s ‘dark skin’: their different accounts
Harry and Meghan told Oprah at least one member of the Royal Family had expressed concern about ‘how dark’ their unborn baby’s skin might be.
It’s an explosive claim. And while they were unwilling to identify the individual involved, or reveal exactly what they are supposed to have said, the ensuing row has dominated this week’s news.
Meghan was adamant questions about Archie’s complexion were motivated by ugly racism. At one point, Oprah put to her the leading question: ‘Because they were concerned that if he were too brown, that would be a problem? Are you saying that?’
Meghan responded ‘If that’s the assumption you are making, I think that feels like a pretty safe one.’ It was also suggested that his skin colour was linked to decisions made about security.
Buckingham Palace has sought to defuse hostilities by noting that ‘recollections’ of what occurred ‘may vary.
That is a fair point, given the somewhat strange fact that two very different versions of events were presented to Oprah — by Harry and Meghan respectively — during their interview.
Meghan claimed there were ‘several conversations’ about Archie’s skin colour which took place ‘in those months when I was pregnant.
But Harry said there was just one conversation ‘right at the beginning . . . before we even got married.
A more forensic interviewer than Oprah might have queried this inconsistency. For while Harry and Meghan were ‘speaking their truth’, they can’t both have been right.
Therapy for Harry — but not Meghan?
Meghan told Oprah she had begged in vain for the Palace to help when she found herself having ‘suicidal thoughts’ and concluding that she ‘just didn’t want to be alive anymore.
‘I went to the institution, and I said that I needed to go somewhere to get help,’ she claimed. ‘ . . .I was told that I couldn’t, that it wouldn’t be good for the institution . . . And so I went to human resources, and I said: ‘I just really, I need help.’ Because in my old job, there was a union, and they would protect me.
‘They said: ‘My heart goes out to you because I see how bad it is, but there’s nothing we can do . . . because you’re not a paid employee of the institution.’
‘This was emails and begging for help, saying very specifically: ‘I am concerned for my mental welfare.’
‘And people going: ‘Oh, yes, yes, it’s disproportionately terrible what we see out there to anyone else.’ But nothing was ever done.’
When Oprah asked if she had thought about checking in to a hospital, Meghan replied: ‘ . . . that’s what I was asking to do . . . you can’t do that. I couldn’t, you know, call an Uber to the Palace.’
Oddly, Meghan was not asked why she had gone to HR, who look after Palace employees (not members of the Royal Family), instead of seeking advice from the royal doctors. Even more curious were Harry’s remarks. He told Oprah he was ‘ashamed of admitting to his family that Meghan needed help, ‘had no idea what to do’ and ‘didn’t have anyone to turn to’.
Yet Harry has suffered his own mental health crises. He has spoken of how, as an adult, he needed therapy to process his grief over the death of his mother.
He has also been a passionate advocate for the mental health charity Heads Together. So it is curious that he did not advise his wife to take the same path he had once followed.
Trips she DID escape home for
Meghan told Oprah ‘The Firm’ attempted to keep her under effective house arrest.
Things got to the stage, she alleged, when she said: ‘I’ve left the house twice in four months.’
A striking claim. But does it hold water?
There is no official record of her social activities, but on the work front, the Court Circular records Meghan’s attendance at official engagements on 73 days in the 17 months between her wedding and the couple’s departure for Canada. Of those days, at least 65 involved leaving her home. There are just two apparent gaps in this hectic schedule, both in 2019: from March 22 to July 6; and from July 14 to September 23.
The first period includes the run-up to Archie’s birth, when she traveled to a hospital on May 6, plus at least four private outings: to Windsor Castle on May 8, Trooping the Colour, and a baseball game in London in June, and Wimbledon on July 4.
In the second period, Meghan managed to holiday abroad four times: in Italy, France, Ibiza, and the U.S.
In short, there doesn’t appear to be any ‘four-month period when she only left the house twice.
No delay exposing these snaps
Meghan said the Press had ‘created’ news about her father Thomas Markle and suggested she had ‘lost her father forever as a result of the wrangles.
Speaking about Mr. Markle’s notorious collaboration with paparazzi photographers, she claimed: ‘The tabloids had apparently known for a month or so [about the staged pictures] and decided to hold until the Sunday before our wedding because they wanted to create drama, which is also a key point in all this; they don’t report the news — they create the news.’
At no stage did Oprah test these claims. If she had done so, she would have discovered a very different version of events. One in which the facts are far more compelling.
It began during the last week of March 2018, when photographs of Mr. Markle began to appear in British newspapers. They had been taken in the Mexican border town of Rosarito, where the former Hollywood lighting director lives in retirement.
The pictures showed Mr. Markle, who until this point had said very little about his daughter’s forthcoming wedding, studying a book called Images Of Britain. The inference was clear: he was reading up on his daughter’s new home country.
The following month, two further sets of photos were published. They showed the portly American working out with weights and being measured up by a tailor. These, it was reported, were proof that Mr. Markle was not just getting in shape for his role as the father of the bride but was also having a wedding suit made.
In all of them he appeared to be unaware the photographs were being taken.
One further picture emerged in early May, of Meghan’s father appeared in an internet cafe looking at online stories about his daughter and future son-in-law. They emerged despite Kensington Palace warning publishers to respect Mr. Markle’s privacy and claiming he had been ‘harassed by the paparazzi.
But by now alarm bells were beginning to sound about the pictures and how they had been obtained. The Mail on Sunday suspected they had been set up and secured CCTV footage from the internet cafe showing Mr. Markle and a photographer together. Here was proof that the two had collaborated. And, importantly, it seemed to undermine the Palace’s official line. That footage was secured on May 12 and published within 24 hours.
Far from ‘sitting’ on the story, the paper published it immediately.
Trapped? Passport WAS used
The day Meghan joined the Royal Family was, she claimed, ‘the last time, until we came here, that I saw my passport, my driver’s license, my keys. All that gets turned over.
Oprah responded to this revelation by depicting her as a sort of UK version of the incarcerated Dubai Princess Latifah: ‘The way you’re describing this . . . it’s like you were trapped,’ she said. ‘ . . .that would be an accurate interpretation, yes?’Meghan responded: ‘That’s the truth.’
It was a very odd form of imprisonment then. For in the six months after her wedding, Meghan was able to use that passport to take at least four foreign holidays, in addition to official tours, visiting Italy, Canada, and Amsterdam, as well as embarking on a lengthy honeymoon.
In 2019, she visited Ibiza, France (staying chez Elton John), Italy (again) and New York twice: once for a lavish baby shower, and again to see her chum Serena Williams play in the U.S. Open.
Those were just the private jaunts. She also traveled on official business to South Africa, Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Ireland, Germany, and Morocco.
2018 Megxit plans
When, exactly, did Harry and Meghan decide to leave Britain? It’s as clear as mud.
At one point, Meghan told Oprah she entered the royal fold intending to devote her life to service: ‘Our plan was to do this forever,’ she said. ‘I wrote letters to his family saying: ‘I am dedicated to this. Use me as you’d like.’ ‘
Yet later in the interview, the couple were asked whether the Queen had been ‘blindsided’ by their January 2020 decision to quit.
‘I’ve never blindsided my grandmother,’ Harry insisted. ‘I have too much respect for her.’
Meghan then added: ‘So I remember when you talked to her several times about this [Megxit] over . . .’
Harry: ‘Two years.’
That suggests they actually began planning to withdraw from full-time royal duties in early January 2018, some four months before they were even married. It is tricky to reconcile this with Meghan’s earlier statement.
Elsewhere, Meghan suggested the couple were discriminated against when the Queen refused to allow them to combine paid work with occasional royal duties, claiming ‘several’ family members enjoy this privilege.
‘I can think of so many — they’re Royal Highnesses — who earn a living . . . and can support the Queen if and when called upon.’
There are, in fact, only four minor royals who combine (part-time) duties with paid work: Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, and Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.
What holiday parties at the Palace?
The couple said the Royal Family had an ‘invisible contract’, behind closed doors with the British Press and throws parties to keep them on their side.
Prince Harry said: ‘To simplify it . . . if you as a family member are willing to wine, dine and give full access to these reporters, then you will get better press.’
Meghan described how tabloid newspapers were invited to ‘holiday parties at the Palace’. This was perhaps the most bizarre of the couple’s claims. Again, they do not provide a shred of evidence.
So let us be clear: royals do not personally entertain journalists.
And the only ‘holiday parties’ are occasional receptions given by the various households’ communications teams and an annual cocktail party to mark the official opening to the public of Buckingham Palace.
It is true that royals are sometimes present at these events, but it requires an astonishing leap of imagination to conclude that these are personal invitations from individual family members. They are not.
UK Press accused…but here’s proof CBS faked its own news
A running theme in Sunday’s interview was the host’s assertion that Meghan was the victim of racism at the hands of the British press.
‘There were undeniable racist overtones,’ Oprah insisted. ‘This stands apart from the kind of coverage we’ve seen of any other royal. There was constant criticism, blatantly sexist and racist remarks by British tabloids.’
To illustrate Ms Winfrey’s point, viewers were presented with montages of supposedly bigoted headlines.
Yet more than a third of those headlines turn out to have been from foreign publications.
For example, in a flurry of eight headlines about Meghan ‘making Kate cry’, five were from U.S. and Australian supermarket magazines.
The second montage of eight lurid headlines — such as ‘monster Meghan exposed’ and ‘Harry knocks up TV star’ — all came from overseas titles.
Even when Oprah did show viewers British headlines, several had been cynically edited, and in one case seemingly entirely fabricated.
The program, for example, used footage of a Guardian headline that supposedly referred neutrally to an incident when radio DJ Danny Baker posted a picture of a chimpanzee on Twitter after Archie was born.
It read: ‘BBC’s Danny Baker on comparing Royal Baby Archie to a chimp.’ But that image appears to have been faked by Oprah’s team since no such headline has ever appeared in that paper.
A Telegraph headline that reads ‘The real problem with Meghan Markle: she just doesn’t speak our language’ was cropped by Oprah’s staff in order to make it appear jingoistic. In fact, as the second line of the headline would have made clear (were it not deleted by Oprah’s staff), the author was not mocking her race or ethnicity, but was instead making fun of her habit of using what he later called: ‘hippie corporate management speak’.
Perhaps the most egregious smear revolved around a January 2018 Mail on Sunday story that leads to the resignation of (then) UKIP leader Henry Bolton. The headline used by the newspaper quoted abusive text messages Mr. Bolton’s girlfriend had recently written.
It read: ‘Meghan’s seed will taint our Royal Family’: UKIP chief’s glamour model lover, 25, is suspended from the party over racist texts about Prince Harry’s wife to be.’
In a cynical attempt to portray the article as racist, the production team appears to have removed all but the first seven words, falsely suggesting that the paper had published an opinion article arguing that ‘Meghan’s seed will taint our Royal Family.’
Harry DID cycle with dad
When they came to discuss their new life with son Archie in California, the couple visibly relaxed. But it revealed a curious gap in Harry’s memory.
‘The highlight for me is sticking him on the back of the bicycle in his little baby seat and taking him on these bike rides, which is something I was never able to do when I was young.’
The implication is that as a child he was never able to enjoy such freedoms — because of the ever-present Press.
The truth was somewhat different. As the picture shows, Harry was a contented back-seat passenger as Prince Charles pedaled away on a bike ride with his two sons.
The photograph was taken at Sandringham in 1990 when Harry was five and William seven.
A year earlier, he had again been photographed in a baby seat behind his father during a half-term holiday with his parents on Tresco in the Scilly Isles.
Another charming snapshot shows the then three-year-old Prince being towed in a homemade cart by a kilt-wearing Charles during a summer break at Balmoral. The fact is, William and Harry enjoyed blissful — and undisturbed — childhood holidays on the vast royal estates in Scotland and Norfolk as well as at Highgrove.
Between the ages of two and six, Harry also had bucket-and-spade holidays to Majorca and later summer cruises and skiing trips.
His father accompanied him on all of them.
Evidence to show she WAS interested in royalty
Meghan claims she never looked up her husband online, telling Oprah: ‘I didn’t grow up knowing much about the Royal Family.
It wasn’t something that was part of a conversation at home. It wasn’t something that we followed.’
Childhood friends remember things differently, however.
One, Suzy Ardakani, has alleged that they would spend playdates watching Diana’s 1981 wedding to Prince Charles.
‘I always loved Diana and I have her biography, which I gave Meghan to read,’ Suzy’s mother Sonia told the Mail in 2017. I videoed Diana’s wedding back in 1981, and I would watch it with Suzy and Meghan all those years later.
‘They would also see items about her on TV.’
Another old school-friend, Ninaki Priddy, told interviewers how they were photographed together outside Buckingham Palace during a 1996 visit to London: ‘Meghan was always fascinated by the Royal Family. She wants to be Princess Diana 2.0.’
A year later year, Princess Diana died. ‘Aged 16, she watched the funeral of Diana with her friends,’ biographer Andrew Morton has written, ‘tears coursing down their cheeks at the poignant moment when the cameras zoomed in on the royal coffin.’
Royal affairs were also discussed on Meghan’s lifestyle blog The Tig when Prince William married Kate Middleton in 2011: ‘Little girls dream of being princesses,’ she wrote. ‘’And grown women seem to retain this childhood fantasy. Just look at the pomp and circumstance surrounding the Royal Wedding.’
Cut off? What about Diana’s millions?
Prince Harry claimed that his decision to sign lucrative deals with Netflix and Spotify came about because: ‘My family literally cut me off financially.’
Even Oprah seemed taken aback by this revelation and queried the Prince. ‘Wait a minute . . . Your family cut you off?’ she asked.
‘Yeah,’ replied Harry. ‘In the first half, the first quarter of 2020,’ adding: ‘But I’ve got what my mum left me, and without that, we would not have been able to do this.’
For emphasis, he said of Diana: ‘I think she saw it coming. And I certainly felt her presence throughout the whole process.’ This claim raises several points.
First: once Harry, a family man who was approaching middle age, decided to opt-out of being a ‘working royal’, there was no obvious reason why his family should have continued to provide him with financial support.
Second: he was not exactly ‘cut off’. Instead, according to informed sources, he received a lump sum from Prince Charles in late March 2020 (towards the end of the 2019–2020 financial year) after announcing his decision to step aside.
This, we are told, was a sum of ‘many hundreds of thousands of pounds. It seems to have been made over to him, not as a final pay-off, but to meet the costs of his new life in America going forward. In other words, it was money for the year ahead, until, as a source puts it, ‘they sorted themselves out.
Additionally, we are told, it was made clear to the couple there would be more resources — if required — in the next financial year.
So what is the truth about Harry and his money? The simple fact is that — thanks to his family — he is a very rich man in his own right. Indeed, almost his every expense, until a year ago, was met by Prince Charles. As a result, he has barely had to touch his considerable personal savings until now.
His fortune derives from Princess Diana’s £21 million estates. After attracting £8 million inheritance tax, the balance of almost £13 million was split evenly between William and Harry, who were 15 and 12 when she died in 1997. The money was invested for the boys by royal advisers, with Harry’s share thought to be worth at least £12 million.
He was also a beneficiary of his great-grandmother the Queen Mother’s will. Known as the Queen Elizabeth Trust Fund this, I understand, provided him with £2 million.
Meghan also has reported personal wealth of £3 million.
However, the couple’s decision to buy a vast home in an exclusive enclave has left them needing to earn more. Or, as one aide puts it: ‘No one told Harry he had to spend £11 million on a mansion with 16 bathrooms. That was his choice.
Not the only royals without security
Meghan insisted that as a former waitress and actress, the ‘grandeur’ of royal titles held no attachment to her — until she discovered it meant Archie would not get his own security detail unless he was a prince.
She says she was informed in the ‘last few months of our pregnancy’ that ‘he wasn’t going to receive security.
But her claims are hotly disputed by royal officials.
One described her logic as ‘ridiculous’, saying it had always been made clear that as long as Harry was a working royal, he, his wife and their children would receive security from Scotland Yard’s royal protection squad.
There is a precedent for this. 24-hour protection was given to Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, daughters of the (then) working royal Prince Andrew, until 2011 when, following a review of their protection, it was withdrawn.
During the interview, Harry further claimed it was while he and Meghan were in Canada, during the early part of last year, that he received ‘short notice’ their security ‘was going to be removed’. He said he was told this reflected their ‘change in status, and he demanded to know if there had been a ‘change of threat or risk’.
He told Oprah: ‘I never thought that I would have my security removed because I was born into this position — I inherited the risk. So that was a shock to me. That was what completely changed the whole plan.’ In truth, the decision to remove publicly funded security was a political one.
The Sussexes continued to be protected by a team of six Scotland Yard officers during the first part of their exile in Canada. But once it became clear they were no longer working royals and wanted to be private citizens, it became impossible for the Palace to argue that taxpayers should foot the bill. Canada, too, balked at having to pick up the estimated £1 million annual cost.
A more balanced interviewer than Oprah might have asked Harry why he believed the UK should pay for his police protection, once he had stopped serving the Crown. After all, there are plenty of royals (including Princess Anne and Prince Edward) who do not enjoy round-the-clock protection. Furthermore, Harry appears to have mythologized the idea that security was removed from his mother — leading to her death — when, in fact, Diana asked for it to be taken away, several years before her fatal accident.
So there we are, quite easy to disprove what she and her husband said in the interview. What we witnessed was a hatchet job by both on first their own families, second, the people who were employed to help the wife to adjust to life outside the norm, and third on the whole of the people of the United Kingdom who have seen them all be classed as racists.
It's just not on at all, it's actually quite despicable.