Ahead of Oprah’s Interview With Harry and Meghan, We List The Most Controversial British Royal Interviews

Just short of a year since embarking on a new life in the U.S and Meghan confirming her second pregnancy, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will sit down for their first ‘no holds barred” interview with Oprah Winfrey. That in itself is causing a row as Oprah is reported to be unhappy that Harry loped off with compatriot James Corden first, thus diminishing the “scoop” factor for Oprah. The British tabloids have started speculating on what will be discussed with Oprah, so some of us will wait with baited breath.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have always maintained their “Megxit” was due to the constant harassment by the British press, a matter referred to in teaser clips for the upcoming interview released by CBS. “It has been unbelievably tough for the two of us,” Harry claims with pregnant wife Meghan by his side. Viewers will be given unprecedented access into the couple’s lives in the face of brutal criticism and starting afresh in LA.

The Interview will air on CBS online on Sunday, 7th March 8-10 pm E.T. Here’s the link to view the interview on CBS. In a bid against Sky, ITV reportedly paid £1 million for the rights to screen the interview in the UK, the interview will be screened on ITV at 9 pm GMT on Monday 8th March. Just hours before the interview is aired in the US, a special programme to celebrate Commonwealth Day will be broadcast on BBC One at 5 pm 7th March.

They join a succession of Royals giving explosive interviews about their past and aren’t the first to rattle regal feathers for doing so as our list reveals:

Prince Phillip and Richard Dimbleby on BBC Panorama in 1961. BBC Archive

Prince Phillip Became The First Royal To Undertake A Television Interview For BBC Panorama In 1961

Prince Phillip was the first royal to give a television interview on May 29, 1961. The Duke of Edinburgh joined Richard Dimbleby on BBC Panorama to discuss the Commonwealth Technical Training Week. The interview in itself was not especially controversial, but the move itself was no small thing, as Royals, especially consorts were rarely heard, and only “seen”. Phillip’s quest to establish his own identity amongst the Windsors, given that King Edward VIII’s wife Wallis does not carry his Mountbatten family name was vigorously dissected in the series, “The Crown”. But that series, they say is more fiction rather than fact.

1994 Prince Charles Admits Adultery

Following the Wales’ separation, rumours which was a gentle whisper during their marriage of Charles’s extramarital assignations with Camilla became a loud cacophony of disapproval after Charles’s misguided attempt to clear the air via the interview. This was the first time the public would hear Charles admit to his affair, and he underestimated the antipathy that both press and public would have for Camilla.

Meandering between questions of infidelity with comments about ‘great’ friendships, Charles finally admitted his adulterous behaviour causing headlines to explode. The interview tarnished Prince Charles’ reputation for years, Camilla was vilified and Diana was seen as the innocent victim of their selfishness. His suitability to rule as a monarch was also questioned by the public and press.

1995 Princess Diana Tells All To Martin Bashir

“There were three of us in this marriage so it was a bit crowded,” Princess Diana’s wry description of her marriage became the sound byte that further excoriated an already beleaguered Charles and Camilla. The interview with Martin Bashir was viewed by 23 million people, Diana gave intimate details on her life being married to Prince Charles, and the turbulent times she experienced being part of the Royal family.

Interviewer Martin Bashir has been since condemned for his dishonest manipulation to get the interview (that’s another story). Diana was both refreshingly and embarrassingly open in the interview, as she discussed her struggles with bulimia tied to years of suffering from depression. It was with this interview that The People’s Princess was born.

2011 Sarah Ferguson Walks Out (And back In) Interview

Sarah ‘Fergie’ Ferguson had many scandals follow her since being stricken from the Royal family back in 1996. Fergie amassed debt problems after divorcing Prince Andrew, which probably explains how she fell victim to a scam that motivated her to peddle stories about the Royals for the princely fee of £500,000.

Her daughters Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie were not favoured by the British press, entangled as they were in their mothers’ life, and we’re constantly scrutinised by the media.

In an interview with 60 minutes Australia, the Duchess landed in hot water again when interviewer Michael Usher pressured her on the subject of receiving money in exchange for selling stories about Prince Andrew. She snapped and walked out refusing to discuss the issue anymore. She eventually returned. However, the atmosphere between the two had become so tense, the interview became painful to watch.

2019 Prince Andrew Denies Trafficking Ties with Epstein

In 2019, the news broke of Prince Andrew’s longstanding friendship with billionaire sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. It was alleged that Andrew had had sex with Virginia Giuffre (then called Virginia Robert) when she was 17 and a minor under US law. In a bid to clear his name, the Royal sat down in November 2019 for an interview with the BBC. Many criticised his delayed response to the serious claims made against him.  However, after the interview aired, it became apparent why it would have been better had he chosen to remain silent.

He denied any wrongdoing throughout, but it was his seeming smug arrogance and distinct lack of empathy towards the victims embroiled in the Epstein imbroglio that made watchers cringe, as he lightly glossed over the crimes mentioned at every turn. The interview led to him stepping back from public duties.

Harry and Meghan: An African Journey” in 2019

In an ITV documentary following the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on a tour of Africa, viewers gained an insight into the struggle that Markle faced upon becoming pregnant while facing relentless media scrutiny. “Any woman especially when they are pregnant, you’re really vulnerable and so that was made really challenging,” she told interviewer Tom Bradby.

Meghan spoke for the first time about the emotional toll of the constant scrutiny she’d faced as a royal, admitting she was “not okay.” This interview triggered a tsunami of extra media attention. Just a few months later, the couple announced that they would step back as senior members of the royal family.

The documentary Harry & Meghan: An African Journey was recorded during a difficult time for the royals, as they weathered negative press coverage and prepared to sue several tabloids.

Azlira Jamaluddin

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Azlira Jamaluddin

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