The Duke and Duchess of Sussex: Thoughts after the Oprah Interview

A Guest Post by @RoyalArjan

When I write this, the interview the whole world is talking about and shook the monarchy, was broadcast almost a week ago. Many, many articles in newspapers, magazines, websites have been published and many, many people have commented it about it on social media, where emotions are running high.

I had expected the interview to be bad news for the monarchy, but I (and many with me) had not expected the interview to be so devastating and destructive. Though the writing had been on the wall actually – for quite some time.

The run-up

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When I saw a clip from an interview with the Duchess of Sussex during the South African tour in October 2019, I started having this feeling that things were going very wrong. In this interview, the Duchess famously said, among other things, that it had been a long time since someone had asked her if she was okay and she talked about her struggles with the press. I sensed that there was trouble in paradise. But most importantly: I thought her statements were not appropriate for a member of the Royal Family. I tweeted that at the time and many people thought it was ridiculous (and called me a racist, which still happens).

I felt sorry for her if her feelings were hurt by the British media (which I can understand), but fact is that all members (especially female) of the Royal Family have been handled brutally by the British media. Because let’s be clear about that: the British media can be horrible and there have been racist comments and dog whistles. But the fact that she could not cope with this without being so vocal about it in the media, was a clear signal to me that things were going in the wrong direction.

In hindsight, it’s ironic that I tweeted at the time that a next step could be an Oprah interview (and no: I have no crystal ball).

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As we know, a few months later the Sussexes were stepping back, moved to the USA and last Summer, the book ‘Finding Freedom’ (which is actually their autobiography) was released. The months before that, I felt increasingly irritated by them: the way they manipulated the media, the way they insulted the Queen with their statements during the time their departure was announced, the many friends who were talking to the media…

I was done with them when the book came out. It was the ultimate insult to the Royal Family. Plus, it was the climax of them playing the victims (well, the climax hadn’t been reached, as we know now). Because that is what they are, always and forever: victims.

The Interview

To me, the interview was an almost maddening experience: so many vague insinuations, vague answers, questions that were not really answered. It was amazing. And so many contradictions: saying on the one hand that everyone in the family welcomed Meghan, while on the other hand totally destroying the family’s reputation by insinuating that the family is racist and didn’t want to protect Archie.

Meghan seemed to expect that everything would be sorted out for her during her first time in the family. I couldn’t believe my ears that she thought it was weird that she had to google the British national anthem. What did she expect? That she didn’t need to do some research about the family, country and institution she was marrying into? She also said the thought that the Queen was just another celebrity…

The topic about Archie’s title was the most unbelievable. Meghan said that Archie didn’t get a royal title and she insinuated that this decision had a racist aspect to it. She was lying (or she was being ignorant). Archie wasn’t supposed to be a prince at birth. According to the 1917 Letters Patent, Archie will only become a prince when his grandfather, the Prince of Wales, will ascend to the throne. Meghan said that security was linked to the title, which is not true. So, while she complained about him not being a prince, the astonishing thing is that Archie was (and still is) allowed to be styled as the Earl of Dumbarton (the first subsidiary title of the Duke of Sussex), but that his parents announced soon after his birth that they didn’t want him to be styled like this! It was an unprecedented move.

So: they complain about him not having a title he was not entitled to, but they withhold him from using the title he is entitled to. I mean: seriously.

The whole interview was a hallucinating mix of naivety and arrogance, which made watching the interview some kind of torture for me.

A constant theme during the interview was that the palace didn’t protect her against false and racist coverage in the media. Meghan clearly wanted the palace to react on all of this stuff. But here is the thing: that is not the royal way. She was not in Hollywood anymore. Handling the media is a careful business for an institution as the Royal Family.

But let’s pretend that the palace would have reacted to media coverage about her: then what? Would it have stopped? No. There is freedom of press in the UK. However horrible the coverage, it’s allowed. And if you think your rights have been violated, you can go to court. What is the Duchess’s definition of ‘protection’? That was a question I would have asked her.

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The topic about Archie’s skin color was, of course, the most damaging and explosive part of the interview (and there were many of them, obviously).

When you accuse others of racism, then that is a very serious accusation. In fact, it’s one of the most damaging accusations you can make. So when you do that, you have to be very clear about it: who said what? And I blame the Duke and Duchess for the fact that they didn’t tell the whole story: who was it? They won’t tell, because that would be ‘very damaging’, as the Duchess said. But the situation now is the most damaging: because it’s not clear who said what, the whole family has been incriminated (although Oprah rushed to say the day after that it was not the Queen or the Duke of Edinburgh), which has caused enormous damage to the Royal Family. If someone of the family has made racist remarks: tell who it is, so this person can react and maybe defend himself or herself. You cannot just drop this bomb and walk away from it all.

Oprah Winfrey was praised for her interview, but I think she did a horrible job. But: what else was to be expected? Oprah is a friend, attended the wedding as a prominent guest (thank you, Your Majesty) and made podcasts with Harry. She was there as the friendly, sympathizing aunt or something. I don’t know whether she sees herself as a journalist, but if she does: this had nothing to do with journalism, Oprah.

My view of the Duke and Duchess

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I think the Duchess is a highly intelligent and manipulative woman. She is very eloquent, knows exactly what she is doing and what she is saying. Everything seems very calculated. She is always the victim. While she must indeed have been through rough times, it is telling that while on the one hand she praises herself as an independent woman, on the other hand she needs to be saved and protected all the time.

It is very sad for her that she had suicidal thoughts. I think she does need help, more specifically I think she needs help in sorting out how her personality has evolved through her life, how certain behavioural patterns have been developed and how those matters have influenced the situation she is in right now.

The Duke is a tragic figure, I think. He has been scarred by his mother’s death and is still not over this, that is obvious. In addition to that, he doesn’t seem to be the smartest person there is. And he is very influenceable as well.

The Duke and Duchess really seem to have found each other. But the combination of the two of them is also (self-)destructive. They are a difficult combination of hurt, arrogance, naivety, victimhood and wokeness, which causes them to use big words when it comes to what they want to contribute to the world, but apparent blindness to how one can constructively cope with difficulties in one’s life.

I cannot image how Harry’s closest family members must be feeling right now: their reputations have been ruined, as they are all possible racists. And that impression will be hard to wipe out.

The aftermath

If it was Harry and Meghan’s goal to damage the monarchy as much as possible, then they have succeeded. In Britain, this topic seems to be as divisive as Brexit, and along the same lines. Especially young people (especially those of colour) will turn their backs towards the monarchy. That is dangerous for an institution that should unite and not divide.

But: the monarchy is an oil tanker: steady going forward, for more than 1000 years now. The Duke and Duchess may have fired all their guns now, while the monarchy will last: scarred, but it will go on. Next year is the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee: don’t be surprised when this will cause huge celebrations.

On the website of the Archewell Foundation, one can find this line: “We believe that compassion is the defining cultural force of the 21st century”.

Well, the Duke and Duchess definitely have some work to do in this respect within their own family.

This article is a guest post by @RoyalArjan, as part of a series of op-ed articles that reflect a variety of opinions. If you would like to publish your own take of this and other royal issues, please contact us!

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7 thoughts on “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex: Thoughts after the Oprah Interview

  1. What a great article! That sums it up perfectly. I think the media should include this perspective more than just looking at it from the perspective of this race debate. Of course, there will have been an article in the British press somewhere that might have a misconduct with regard to Meghan’s ethnicity. It that is not accepatble. But the fact that this topic is now superimposed on everything and that she has never had a chance as a woman of colour in the Royal family is simply too one-dimensional. I can hardly imagine how devastated Charles, William and Kate must be. Sorry but Harry and Meghan seem to have no compassion for others. In the end it’s a very selfish attitude.

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  2. The woman lived & worked in Canada for 7 years, which is part of the Commonwealth. Members of the RF come to Canada frequently. She claims she was friends w/Eugenie before she met Harry & yet then proceeds to claim she didn’t know anything about the British National Anthem (which most students in the US know as ‘My Country ‘Tis of Thee’), the RF, or (for good measure) The Queen. Sorry, but no-I don’t buy any of her woe is me tale.

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    1. In Canada we don’t use the British anthem anymore so she would not have heard let alone learn the words here. I’m sure they didn’t sit around with Eugenie and Jack sipping wine and singing ‘ God save the Queen’. It was an anecdote on the subject of no formal “Royal” training provided.

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  3. You did a lovely job.

    There was a time when Sarah Ferguson had done, yet again, some type of self promoting way to make money. A British citizen commented about when will Americans understand how self serving and foolish she is. It made me realize she wasn’t acting like a princess and really wasn’t very good at it for the most part. And as many foolish things she has done over time, she have never injured the “firm” like the Sussexs.

    That being said, I hope thinking people (vs feeling people) are quickly realizing Meghan’s routine. That she is exactly what you said – manipulative. She whines then plays the race & victim cards. But until she takes enough things away from Harry that he loves, I suspect he will continue to believe her manipulation.

    We went to London to go to Windsor for the wedding but ending up not going (thank god for diabetic toes). As we listened to the tv, I made the comments. “If your kin doesn’t like you, it doesn’t say much about you.” And “I have a feeling that in the future, her step brother isn’t going to sound quite so crazy.”

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  4. I don’t think they have give any consideration to how this will affect their son. Or Harry’s relationship with his family. The Sussexes have burned their bridges and distanced himself from Archie’s grandparents and aunts and uncles. Archie won’t get to spend time picnicking with his cousins, growing up knowing his British roots, or becoming a natural, beloved member of that family. I wonder if someday Harry and Archie will be sad for what they have lost.

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  5. Your commentary reflects a very British point of view and to me, it sounds quite racist even tho the denial is there in blank and white. Meghan is an American and Americans do not view the royal family as non touchable because we don’t believe in a monarchy. Meghan hasn’t done anything wrong here and the wrongs that are so blatant are ignored because the British want to believe their royals can do no wrong. They can, they have, they will. We all saw what happened to Diana and the same thing happened to Meghan. Fortunately for her she has a supportive husband who knows the truth and the importance of not letting other people dictate your truth and being able to express it. Good for them for speaking out and speaking up. The conversation that should have been sparked by their interview was how did this happen twice? Or maybe we need to reexamine how things are done in this ancient institution? It’s even possible that the example of Prince Andrew should be a red flag that all not as peachy as it seems. It’s easy to pick on the black American who didn’t really fit in from the beginning (much like Fergie) but isn’t it old to keep ignoring the bullying already?

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    1. Well said Lorraine. I have often wondered and still do, why there wasn’t as much outrage over Andrew’s shame of the family, but Meghan has to be detailed in the press with a fine toothcomb. I didn’t give much thought to it until I noticed the very next public engagements with both the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge (an event that was suddenly not a solo engagement) became photo ops with people of color. I strongly believe the biggest issue here is that this is seen as a personal attack on a ‘brand’ or ‘person’ with which you (the generalized version of people) self identify. You can love the royal family and still think that something they have done is wrong. There is nuance in everything. Much like Meghan stated in the interview, “you don’t have to hate me if you love her, and you don’t have to hate her if you love me.” The biggest thing that I took away from this was there needs to be a lot of healing from within. Everyone is losing something rather large in this situation.

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