Meghan and Harry interview: Positive US reaction contrasts with UK criticism

·5-min read
UNSPECIFIED - UNSPECIFIED: In this handout image provided by Harpo Productions and released on March 5, 2021, Oprah Winfrey interviews Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on A CBS Primetime Special premiering on CBS on March 7, 2021. (Photo by Harpo Productions/Joe Pugliese via Getty Images)
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were questioned by Oprah Winfrey in the exclusive interview. (Getty Images)

The reaction to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s TV interview has thrown up a large divide between the US and the UK.

There was a wave of support in the US for the couple following their interview with Oprah Winfrey, broadcast on CBS early on Monday.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were backed by US commentators, journalists and celebrity friends following the two-hour interview.

Read more: Prince Charles will be 'deeply hurt' by Harry and Meghan's Oprah interview

But in the UK, where the interview will air on ITV on Monday evening, the reaction was noticeably different, with several tabloid newspapers and media figures on the offensive against the Sussexes.

In the deeply personal interview, Meghan revealed there were times when she “didn’t want to be alive any more” because of the pressures of life within the Royal Family.

She said at one point an unnamed royal asked Harry “how dark” their son Archie’s skin might be.

Watch: Meghan reveals she had suicidal thoughts

Harry said he felt “let down” by his father, the Prince of Wales, saying Charles stopped taking his calls after the couple’s decision to step back from royal duties. Harry also said he and his brother William “were on different paths”.

The couple said actor and director Tyler Perry had provided them with a home and security when they moved from Canada to the US.

The reaction stateside to the interview has been largely one of support for the couple.

Tennis player Serena Williams tweeted that the duchess is her “selfless friend” who “teaches me every day what it means to be truly noble”.

She added: “Her words illustrate the pain and cruelty she’s experienced.

“I know first hand the sexism and racism institutions and the media use to vilify women and people of colour to minimise us, to break us down and demonise us.

“We must recognise our obligation to decry malicious, unfounded gossip and tabloid journalism. The mental health consequences of systemic oppression and victimisation are devastating, isolating and all too often lethal.”

Meena Harris, the niece of US vice president Kamala Harris, tweeted prior to the interview: “Happy Meghan Markle appreciation day.”

Poet Amanda Gorman, who read her piece The Hill We Climb at the inauguration of US president Joe Biden, said Meghan was “the Crown’s greatest opportunity for change, regeneration and reconciliation in a new era”.

She added: “They didn’t just maltreat her light – they missed out on it.”

UNSPECIFIED - UNSPECIFIED: In this handout image provided by Harpo Productions and released on March 5, 2021, Oprah Winfrey interviews Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on A CBS Primetime Special premiering on CBS on March 7, 2021. (Photo by Harpo Productions/Joe Pugliese via Getty Images)
Meghan Markle opened up to Oprah Winfrey for the interview, broadcast on Monday. (Getty Images)

Bernice King, the youngest child of the late civil rights activist Martin Luther King, tweeted: “Royalty is not a shield from the devastation and despair of racism. I’m grateful that Meghan Markle is still here.”

Journalist Saeed Ahmed, assistant managing editor at CNN Digital, tweeted that “two things stood out” from the interview.

He added: “Tyler Perry offered them security when the royal family wouldn’t. Oprah allowed them to tell their story when the royal family wouldn’t.

“A Black man gave them a home. A Black woman gave them a platform.”

Abby D Phillip, host of Inside Politics Sunday on CNN, tweeted simply: “This is heartbreaking.”

However, not all the US media coverage was full of praise. An opinion piece on the New York Post website was headlined “Meghan Markle’s interview was full of bull”.

The reaction in the UK to the interview was more negative than in the US.

Broadcaster and journalist Piers Morgan was unimpressed with Meghan’s interview, asking on Twitter: “Is it too late for Oscar nominations?”

He also tweeted: “This interview is an absolutely disgraceful betrayal of the Queen and the royal family.

“I expect all this vile destructive self-serving nonsense from Meghan Markle - but for Harry to let her take down his family and the monarchy like this is shameful.”

Some of the newspaper front pages led with a similar theme.

In the hours before the interview was broadcast, the Daily Express accused the couple of having a “self-serving TV chat with Oprah”.

The Daily Mail reported on the Queen’s Commonwealth message and what it called “real service”.

In its revised edition after the interview was broadcast, the newspaper had the front page headline: “Meghan accuses palace of racism”.

Read more: Five things we found out about Harry and Meghan's relationship

PR consultant Mark Borkowski said the interview was “pretty damaging to the Royal Family”.

He said: “Some of the accusations and some of the deeply personal insights into living inside a royal household will be judged, particularly by an American audience who are watching on primetime, as pretty shocking.

“This could be the start of a PR war. Or it could be a moment for everybody to draw a line in the sand and start talking and trying to heal some wounds here, because the wounds are very deep. There’s a lot of losers in this.”

Watch: The key revelations from Meghan and Harry’s Oprah interview

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