Piers Morgan has labelled the Duchess of Sussex’s comments in her interview with Oprah Winfrey as “contemptible”, following his abrupt departure from Good Morning Britain.
The presenter left the ITV morning show following a backlash against his comments about Meghan and her headline-making interview, but said it was an “amicable” departure and that he and the broadcaster “agreed to disagree”.
The PA news agency understands that the Duchess of Sussex formally complained to ITV about Morgan before he announced he was leaving the programme.
The broadcaster’s chief executive, Dame Carolyn McCall, said on Tuesday that Kevin Lygo, managing director of media and entertainment, had been in discussion with Morgan regarding his coverage of the Harry and Meghan interview, adding that she believed what the duchess had said to Winfrey, saying: “It’s important everyone does.”
Speaking outside his London home on Wednesday morning, Morgan described his departure from GMB as “amicable”, adding: “I had a good chat with ITV and we agreed to disagree.
“I’m just going to take it easy and see how we go.
“I believe in freedom of speech, I believe in the right to be allowed to have an opinion.
“If people want to believe Meghan Markle, that’s entirely their right.
“I don’t believe almost anything that comes out of her mouth and I think the damage she’s done to the British monarchy and to the Queen at a time when Prince Philip is lying in hospital is enormous and, frankly, contemptible.
“If I have to fall on my sword for expressing an honestly-held opinion about Meghan Markle and that diatribe of bilge that she came out with in that interview, so be it.”
The presenter added: “I think it’s fair to say, although the woke crowd will think that they’ve cancelled me, I think they will be rather disappointed when I re-emerge.
“I would call it a temporary hibernation.”
He said he is “always in talks with people”.
Asked what he would say to his Good Morning Britain colleague, Alex Beresford, with whom he had a heated debate during Tuesday’s show, Morgan said: “Good luck to him.”
His comments followed an earlier tweet in which he said he still does not believe what Meghan said to the US chat show host.
He tweeted: “On Monday, I said I didn’t believe Meghan Markle in her Oprah interview.
“I’ve had time to reflect on this opinion, and I still don’t.
“If you did, OK.
“Freedom of speech is a hill I’m happy to die on.
“Thanks for all the love, and hate.
“I’m off to spend more time with my opinions.”
Susanna Reid addressed her co-host’s exit and referred to his often divisive presence as she opened Wednesday’s programme, saying: “A number of people will know the news and many of you will not and will be surprised that Piers Morgan is not here this morning.
“Now, Piers and I have disagreed on many things and that dynamic was one of the things viewers loved about the programme.
“He is without doubt an outspoken, challenging, opinionated, disruptive broadcaster.
“He has many critics and he has many fans.
“You will know that I disagreed with him about Meghan’s interview.
“He himself clarified his comments about her mental health on the show yesterday.”
Reid said there are “many voices” on Good Morning Britain and “everyone has their say”.
She added: “But now Piers has decided to leave the programme.
“Some of you may cheer and others may boo.
“He has been my presenting partner, Monday to Wednesday, for more than five years and during Brexit and the pandemic and other issues.
“He has been a voice for many of you and a voice that many of you have railed against.
“It is certainly going to be very different but shows go on and so on we go.”
Ranvir Singh, Reid’s co-presenter for the morning, responded: “Well said.”
She described Morgan as a “big character” and said “many viewers will be absolutely gutted”.
Singh called Morgan “Marmite” and acknowledged his role in Good Morning Britain’s success.
ITV has not yet announced a replacement for Morgan, but it was clarified during Wednesday’s show that Singh had always been due to appear.
Singh said: “I was here anyway, yes.
“Don’t read anything into this.
“Yes, I have shifted seats on this brand new desk.
“And I am glad to be here to be able to go through the programme with you today.”
PA understands that the duchess’s concern was not about the personal attacks on the validity of her racism allegation against the royal family, or her claims that she was not supported by the institution when experiencing suicidal thoughts, but how Morgan’s comments may affect the issue of mental health generally and those attempting to deal with their own problems.
ITV said is it not commenting on reports regarding Meghan’s complaint.