The Sussexes are the latest in a line of celebrities to try to rebuild their image by talking to the chatshow queen
You could have forgiven the British royal family for giving primetime, tell-all interviews a wide berth for the foreseeable. The evisceration of Prince Andrew by the BBC’s Emily Maitlis in 2019 managed to achieve the near-impossible: making the Duke of York appear more dubious and less sympathetic.
But if we have learned one thing about the Sussexes, Harry and Meghan, it’s that they are intent on doing pretty much the opposite of what the other royals want them to do. So next Sunday, 7 March, a 90-minute special, Oprah with Meghan and Harry, will air on the US network CBS. There is also understood to be a bidding war between UK broadcasters – though not the BBC – for the interview, which, it is promised, will be “intimate” and “wide-ranging”.
“Most royal interviews are horrible car crashes,” says Jonny Dymond, the royal correspondent for BBC News. “Princess Diana garnered an enormous amount of sympathy, but actually did it work out as she thought it would do? Arguably not. Prince Charles and Jonathan Dimbleby, Prince Andrew and Emily Maitlis. Now, Meghan is going to get an easier ride from Oprah, I don’t think there’s any doubt about it. But you have to wonder how this will play.”
The bulk of the programme will be a conversation between Oprah Winfrey and Meghan; Harry is expected to join only for a concluding, future-oriented segment. And it seems clear the reason it is happening is because of a growing closeness between the two women. They met for the first time in March 2018, when Winfrey was visiting London and was invited to Kensington Palace. Two months later, she was a guest at the Sussexes’wedding at Windsor Castle. Winfrey wrote afterwards in her magazine, O: “All mature beings recognised it as the beginning it was.”
If it has been a courtship, it has been a mutual one, sometimes played out on social media. The 67-year-old Winfrey dispatched “welcome to the world” gifts for the couple’s baby son, Archie. In December, Meghan, 39, sent Winfrey a hamper from Clevr Blends, a company she has invested in that makes vegan “superlattes”. “My new drink of choice for the morning and night,” Winfrey told her 19.3 million Instagram faithful. Last summer, the Sussexes moved to a $14m house in Montecito, California, not far from Winfrey’s $100m mega-ranch, Promised Land.