Peter Hunt

What the Oprah interview means for the monarchy

No Palace spin can undo the damage Harry and Meghan have done

An institution that weathered and survived the abdication crisis and the aftermath of the death of Diana Princess of Wales is now left reeling by a two-hour long programme on primetime American television. It’s a broadcast in which the grandson of a queen and his wife made crystal clear that marrying into the British royal family in the 21st century is no fairytale.

It’s a one-sided account of Megxit that will incense those who insist they did try to help the newest Windsor

The claim of racism is one that will endure. No Palace spin can erase it from the collective memory. The charge is that one of Harry’s relatives asked him, when Meghan was pregnant with Archie, ‘how dark his skin might be when he is born’. Harry told Oprah the conversation ‘was awkward’ and left him ‘a bit shocked’. The couple haven’t revealed the identity of the royal who posed the question — a toxic one for an institution that provides the constitutional head of state for a multicultural United Kingdom and fifteen other countries. Just as damaging is Harry’s hurt at his family’s failure to come to his aid and condemn some of the media coverage that was racist, when his relationship with Meghan was made public.

The charge sheet against the House of Windsor, post-Oprah, is a long one. On the basis of Meghan’s account, it’s an ancient institution that has had painful lessons inflicted on it and it hasn’t learnt from them. With her son by the departed duchess’ side for part of the show, the spectre of Diana hung over this programme. Despite the mental health problems experienced by the late princess, Meghan has now told the world that she experienced suicidal thoughts when she married a prince, and she received no help.

Also cut adrift, in his telling, was Harry by his own father who stopped taking his son’s calls.

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