Are you ready for the television event of the year on Sunday? I was talking to someone yesterday who isn’t even into royal sh-t and she was like, I need to watch this interview, and I don’t have cable, I have to figure out how I can make it happen. She’s not the only one. Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s interview with Oprah and the two-hour CBS special has been the talk of the week, with furious palace counterattacks released over the last few days in an attempt to discredit the Sussexes, and the network dropping strategic previews to heighten anticipation, there are a lot of people who can’t wait to find out what, exactly, Meghan, Harry, and Oprah will be discussing – and in how much detail.
With two days to go before the show, CBS’s latest teaser is, in comparison, at least on its surface, less sensational than its predecessors. On its surface.
#EXCLUSIVE: In this extended first clip from @Oprah's interview with Prince Harry and Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex says what it means to be able to speak for herself.— CBS Mornings (@CBSMornings) March 5, 2021
It comes one year after the couple left England and stepped back from full-time royal life.#OprahMeghanHarry pic.twitter.com/o3AdxpmLrh
So Oprah’s telling us that she’s been wanting to interview Meghan for a while now – no surprise, everyone has been wanting to interview Meghan, ever since she and Harry started dating. Oprah, however, is not everyone. Needless to say, there were negotiations, and in the end, it was determined that it wasn’t the right time. Determined by whom?
Meghan and Oprah reveal here that these conversations took place by committee, which is also as expected. It should be no secret now that members of the royal family can’t make decisions on their own, especially not when the decisions involve the media, and certainly not when the media is American. So there’s a reason why Oprah chose this line of questioning: she’s setting up a point. This was not a casual question. And Oprah knows what the answer is. What she’s doing here is eliciting a specific response that paints a specific picture; of course Meghan knows this too, and filled in the colours. She and Harry were not able to choose for themselves. They weren’t “liberated” to choose for themselves until now. They didn’t have the “right” to “speak for” themselves.
This section of the conversation then will likely be considered as part of a bigger idea – of what life is truly like as a member of the British royal family, and how the reality of that eventually became untenable for the Sussexes, precipitating their decision to leave. In the simplest terms, they no longer were willing to be controlled by the Firm.
Here’s where it’ll be interesting to see if Oprah pushes with follow-up though. Because while it’s obviously not ideal to have to exist with this “construct” that is the British royal institution, as Meghan describes it, especially when she lived so independently before, it’s not like that rigidity and those limits were new. The British royal family didn’t just set them up; they’ve always micromanaged everything. Princess Diana put that on blast, quite loudly. And, clearly, not much has changed since her time. Is this what Oprah is trying to tease out of this interview? That the promise and performance of British monarchical modernisation were greatly exaggerated? Will Oprah ask how exactly British royal life was presented to Meghan when she first introduced to it? That, to me, is what I’m curious about if this is where we’re going. Like at what point did Meghan realise …these people have set it up for everyone to believe that royalty is the ultimate experience, the best sh-t ever, and they expect their members to parade that illusion while enforcing it through an internal dictatorship rooted in a colonial past. If that is indeed the thesis here, it’s Oprah’s work to chase the evidence and build the case. This, too, is one the many points of intrigue with this special: we’ve already heard from Gayle King that Oprah said it’s the “best interview” she’s ever done. That’s a big statement coming from someone who’s been at this for a long, long time. So we’re also in for a showcase of Oprah’s skills. What will be the significance of Sunday night? After Sunday, will we start talking about the time before Sunday and the time after?
And also… if I’m a celebrity who wants a story buried, Sunday night at 8pm is when you hit send.