The official announcement from Buckingham Palace seemed to suggest that it was Harry and Meghan who had decided to make permanent what had been billed as a one-year experiment in stepping back from Royal duties. The release read: “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have confirmed to Her Majesty The Queen that they will not be returning as working members of The Royal Family,” the Buckingham Palace statement said. Continued the statement, “Following conversations with The Duke, The Queen has written confirming 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.” But according to the Daily Mail, that statement could be translated as “the Queen actually stripped the couple of their honorary patronages of the various charities they had adopted before they moved to North America.”
Worry about an Oprah tell-all
And now the Mail is saying that at the same time as Harry and Meghan were discussing their future with the Queen, they were getting ready for a 90-minute sit-down with Oprah Winfrey that will be aired in March. Apparently, the TV taping took place within a day of the couple getting cut loose by Buckingham Palace (or cutting Buckingham Palace loose—depending on which version one chooses to believe.) Sources say Buckingham Palace is terrified the interview will be a bombshell tell-all similar to the interviews Harry’s mother Diana gave the media in the wake of her marital breakup with Charles.
The notion that Harry and Meghan were fired gained some credibility from the wording of a statement they issued after the Buckingham Palace missive. It seemed to suggest they would try to lend their fame to their UK causes whether the Queen approved or not saying the couple would “remain committed to their duty and service to the U.K. and around the world, and have offered their continued support to the organizations they have represented regardless of official role. “We can all live a life of service. Service is universal,” the statement read.
The Mail is reporting that Harry’s brother William is livid at that response which he reportedly termed as an ‘insulting, disrespectful and petulant’ parting shot at the Queen. “The Duke of Cambridge has been ‘shocked and saddened’ at his brother’s behaviour towards the monarch,” the sources told the Sunday Times.
Meanwhile, in a story released today, sources in the US are reportedly claiming that the Oprah Interview is actually a make-it-or-break-it gambit by Harry and Meghan as they have not made the hoped-for splash that was expected when they moved to California. If they sought privacy in Santa Barbera, they are apparently getting it. A source told the Mail that Harry and Megan are essentially B-listers, behind Beyonce or even the Kardashians, and that there is not a great deal of public interest in the pair in the US.
A producer who worked with Ms. Winfrey in the past said of Meghan, ‘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 question is can they keep those millions of viewers interested enough to keep watching for an hour and a half?’
Another episode of the Windsors?
One can feel sympathy for Harry, who saw his mother destroyed by media scrutiny, even though she apparently courted it as much as she avoided it. The British media are notoriously cruel and they seemed to be ready to start picking away at Meghan after the first flush of adulation post-Royal wedding had worn off. So, the decision to get away from the glare of publicity was understandable. But they have run away from it in the UK, only to court it in the US. Here’s the inescapable question , ‘but for the former Royal connection, what do these two bring to the table that would make them sustainable public figures commanding multi-million-dollar performance fees? They have signed lucrative deals with Netflix and Spotify but those will disappear quickly if the US public does not respond. We have Harry, essentially a high school graduate, (although Eton is probably the poshest High School in the world) and Meghan who was a supporting actor in a cable network series that was garnering a 0.3 rating when she left the show. Here’s hoping they make it on their own, because the alternative is the image of another era—the fading Duke and Duchess of Windsor holed up in France living on a Royal allowance, virtually forgotten.