The much-anticipated interview with Harry and Meghan aired on US television last night – and has dominated headlines on both sides of the Atlantic today (Monday).
During their interview with Oprah Winfrey, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex accused an unnamed royal of racism, suggested the royal family were jealous of Meghan and revealed that she contemplated taking her own life while pregnant.
Appearing vulnerable at times, the duchess revealed that working for The Firm – as the royal family is sometimes known – ultimately left her feeling that ending her life was an option, and how she had not been protected by the monarchy.
Life behind palace doors has not been exposed to this degree since the days of the “War of the Waleses”, when the turmoil of Charles and Diana’s disintegrating marriage was laid bare in the 1990s.
Harry suggested his family were jealous of Meghan’s popularity with the public – just as the appeal of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, had reportedly been seen as a threat.
The interview airs on ITV at 9pm tonight.
Today Dr Chris Price, senior history lecturer at York St John University, told YorkMix the full fallout from the revelations would take a while to become clear. But “it has the capacity to damage Anglo-American relations and also the image of the UK globally”.
In terms of the response of the royal family, Chris said: “I think they’d be horrified.
“But I don’t think there’s anything they can do – because it’s sort of accusation without evidence, unless something is produced. They are in an awkward position of not being able to respond in a normal way.”
Interview ‘larger than Diana’s’
Dr Price said the interview had to be set “in a Diana context where the same things have happened to her, that happened to Diana.
“We don’t know how certain it is, because it is all accusation and counter accusation – but it’s certainly framed in that way.”
He said: “Diana was a worldwide figure and known everywhere. This makes it a part of a broader international narrative that is going on here. This has a capacity to turn into an Anglo-American issue.”
Meghan “does have a connection to an American audience which has not been the case previously,” the academic said.
“In a sense this interview is larger, because she’s engaged to the United States.
“With the Diana interview its specific impact was in the UK. Whereas with this one, its international ramifications will be greater.”
What could be the constitutional ramifications of the interview?
“Certainly in terms of the public relations aspect, and the cultural relationship, there will be implications – but constitutionally, I’m not sure there will be.”
When asked whether the interview will damage the monarchy, Dr Price said: “Not necessarily too much. I suspect it won’t do the royal family any damage here because the British audience might take a nationalistic perspective on it.
“I imagine the reactions on both sides [US and UK] will be very different. So I don’t think it will damage the monarchy and its position in the UK – but the international image of the royal family, that’s a different matter which I think will take a hit.
“I think broadly the British audience will be sympathetic to the royal family, but the American audience will probably come down on the side of Meghan and that would have serious implications.”
He said: “Americans will interpret things in their own way and that might have implications going forward.
“It could open the narrative about Anglophobia in the United States because she’s an American citizen whose been cruelly wronged by a foreign institution.
“I think both sides of the Atlantic will react with nationalistic lines on this one.”
Dr Ed Braman, lecturer in TV production at the University of York, said: “This won’t make television history in the same way that the Princess Diana interview did here in the UK”.
The Diana interview “was a ‘game changer’ in a way that can’t be replicated here”.
“The big take-away from this interview will be whether this high-profile interview serves as a particularly important part of their media strategy going forward.
“The interview is with a trusted friend and aired in the US, so how much of a message is this to how they engage with the UK media in future?”
The interview will air tonight on ITV and ITV Hub at 9pm.