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Image / Agenda / Image Writes

Of course Harry and Meghan weren’t surprised by Her Majesty’s comments


By Sarah Finnan
19th Aug 2021

Prince Harry and Meghan, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, with Oprah Winfrey.

Of course Harry and Meghan weren’t surprised by Her Majesty’s comments

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are looking ahead to the future, as they prepare to enter a new “era of visibility”. At least according to author Omid Scobie, they are.

One half of the writing team behind the couple’s international bestseller, Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of a Modern Royal Family, Scobie co-wrote the book alongside Carolyn Durand… and as with anything Harry or Meghan-related, there was huge public interest in the project. Not least because it was the first time that the duke and duchess had spoken so candidly about royal life behind the scenes. 

The interview 

Back in the headlines once again this week courtesy of a new chapter in the paperback edition (excerpted in the newest edition of People), it comes just days after the one year anniversary of the book’s publishing. Twelve months have passed, but the drama is as rife as ever and the recent addition touches on the famous bombshell interview the duo gave to Oprah just a few weeks prior. 

An interview that very much rocked the world, it brought an average audience of 725,000 people to RTÉ2 when it first aired. Meanwhile, across the water in America, Forbes reports that more than 17 million viewers tuned in to CBS to watch. The couple’s first sit-down interview since they stepped back as senior members of the royal family, everyone was hungry to hear their truth.

The fallout

Understandably, the thirst for information didn’t stop once the cameras finished rolling either. It’s probably safe to say that there was just as much interest in what would happen next as there was in the actual 90-minute chat itself, and naturally, all eyes were on the Queen and the rest of the royal family to see how they would react. 

Almost two days later and the world had their answer when Her Majesty addressed the infamous interview for the first time. “The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan,” she said in a statement back in March. “The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning. Whilst some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately.”

While it would be difficult for the Queen to speak out on the matter in any real way, the statement was very in keeping with how the royals tend to handle such situations. In fact, the book’s new chapter quotes a source close to the couple who claims that Harry and Meghan were “‘not surprised’ that full ownership was not taken”. 

The reality

But, are any of us really all that shocked?  The royal family have a tendency to sweep things under the rug and pretend they don’t exist. History has demonstrated that the monarchy has a certain fondness for turning a blind eye to the more unsavoury parts of life, and it’s not something they’ve managed to phase out either. Quite the opposite and they continue to act accordingly even to this day. Admittedly, no one expected Harry and Meghan to speak so openly to Oprah, but the contents of what they discussed was not new information. 

Take the issue of racism as an example. The royal family has long been tarnished by accusations of racism, even before the duke admitted that it was “a large part” of why he and Meghan decided to leave the UK. Queen Elizabeth I was connected to Britain’s slave trade back in the 1500s, publicly supporting Captain John Hawkins who captured hundreds of African slaves and exchanged them in return for various goods. 

Then there is the story of Abdul Karim, Queen Victoria’s Indian attendant who the royal household claim she found fault with because of the colour of his skin, trying everything in her power to displace him and send him back to India. More recently, the monarch offended with a royal badge which protestors petitioned to have redesigned as it depicted a scene that resembled the horrific killing of George Floyd.

The badge in question was of the Order of St Michael and depicts the archangel  St Michael trampling on Satan. Used to recognise service abroad or in the Commonwealth, over 20,000 people signed a petition calling for the image to be changed in light of Floyd’s brutal murder– their silence during the large scale Black Lives Matter movement did not go unnoticed either.

Though Prince Charles has acknowledged the “appalling atrocity of the slave trade”, not to mention the “unimaginable suffering it caused”, the Queen has never done so and it seems unlikely that she will anytime soon. Insider reports that human rights activist and journalist Peter Tatchell said that Her Majesty shows “an unwillingness to face up to past injustices”, and deals with them (so to speak), by staying quiet. A tactic the family has also employed with regards to Prince Andrew.

Himself now embroiled in sexual abuse allegations, Prince Andrew already stepped back from his royal duties due to his association with Jeffrey Epstein, but as the lawsuit against him now plays out over in the US, the rest of the royals remains tight-lipped on the matter.

So, yes, Harry probably would have loved for his grandmother to have apologised for how he and his new wife were treated but he’s wiser to the ways of the world than most give him credit for and neither he, Meghan nor any of us should be surprised by the reality.