Palace aides last night brushed off the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey as a ‘sideshow’ which will barely register with the British public amid the more pressing concerns of a global pandemic and the Duke of Edinburgh’s health.
After a frenzied week dominated by bombshell claims of alleged bullying and fierce denials, Royal officials signalled their determination not to be dragged into a tawdry tit-for-tat battle with the couple.
While acknowledging that the two-hour interview, to be screened in the US tonight and the UK tomorrow, is likely to include further uncomfortable moments, an insider icily highlighted Britain faced more important issues.
‘On Monday most people in Britain will be thinking about schools going back, getting the vaccine and, at the Palace particularly, looking forward to the Duke of Edinburgh coming out of hospital. This is just a sideshow,’ they said.
The comments will be interpreted by many as a sign that ‘The Firm’ believes Harry and Meghan will in time struggle to attract the kind of attention they received in the UK before they stepped back from their Royal duties a year ago.
Palace aides last night brushed off the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey as a ‘sideshow’ which will barely register with the British public amid the more pressing concerns of a global pandemic and the Duke of Edinburgh’s health
Aides described the mood at Buckingham Palace ahead of the interview as ‘calm’, with courtiers said to be maintaining a sense of ‘this, too, will pass’.
One source told The Mail on Sunday: ‘Most of what is said will be lost in the mists of time. History teaches us that only the interviewer wins from these programmes.’
Palace officials have no idea what the couple have said to Ms Winfrey, beyond the pre-released teasers.
‘We haven’t got a clue what they say in the interview,’ said the source. ‘But there is determination not to play their game. There is a very clear sense right from the top that it’s best not to react.’
They will, however, have gained a flavour of the interview from the series of clips released during a heavy promotional campaign by the US network CBS.
After a frenzied week dominated by bombshell claims of alleged bullying and fierce denials, Royal officials signalled their determination not to be dragged into a tawdry tit-for-tat battle with the couple
It has reportedly paid Ms Winfrey’s production company between £5 million and £6.5 million for the rights to the interview.
In one clip last week, Meghan is seen sitting in the garden of a mansion in California explaining her short experience of Palace life was ‘almost unsurvivable’.
In another, Harry says that it has been ‘unbelievably tough for the two of us but at least we have each other’.
He adds that he decided to emigrate to the US with Meghan because he feared ‘history repeating itself’ after the death of Diana.
Television insiders predict, however, the worst may be yet to come. One experienced US TV producer said: ‘It’s not like a movie where all the best bits are in the trailer.
In programmes like this, they keep the real bombshells for the show.’ What is clear, however, is that whatever grenades may be launched, the Palace does not intend to start a war. As one source put it: ‘Only one side seems to be firing.’
While acknowledging that the two-hour interview, to be screened in the US tonight and the UK tomorrow, is likely to include further uncomfortable moments, an insider icily highlighted Britain faced more important issues
It is far from the first time that the Palace will have dealt with an excruciating tell-all interview.
For Prince Charles, it will no doubt stir up painful memories of Diana’s Panorama revelations 25 years ago, in which she spoke of there being ‘three people in this marriage’.
But aides were keen to point out there is a crucial difference. When Diana sat down with Martin Bashir, she sparked a rift between herself and the Palace. This time, Harry and Meghan’s departure has already happened.
Before the fireworks from California, the British public will see other Royals provide a stark alternative by focusing on efforts to combat coronavirus.
Behind the ‘keep calm and carry on’ message, however, aides say there is genuine concern Harry will live to regret the Oprah interview.
‘I suspect that one day Harry will come to regret it, just as Diana did,’ writes Royal biographer Penny Junor in today’s Mail on Sunday.
It was claimed last week Meghan faced a bullying complaint brought forward by one of her closest advisers during her time at Kensington Palace.
A spokesman for the Sussexes appeared to blame the Palace for leaking the claims, saying the couple were ‘the victims of a calculated smear campaign’.
Queen will get a breakfast briefing from aides at Buckingham Palace who will stay up through the night to watch Harry and Meghan’s explosive interview
By Mark Hookham for the Mail on Sunday
Aides at Buckingham Palace will stay up through the night to watch the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey.
Royal insiders are determined not to enter into a war of words, but will be watching the two-hour broadcast carefully for any fresh allegations levelled against them.
While the interview will not be screened in the UK until tomorrow, it is believed Palace aides have secured an online feed to allow them to watch the interview live when it is broadcast by CBS.
It is due to start at 5pm in Los Angeles, or 1am in the UK.
Aides at Buckingham Palace will stay up through the night to watch the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey. The Queen, who is at Windsor Castle, is expected to be briefed about the contents of the interview tomorrow morning. It is likely one of her senior aides will relay Meghan and Harry’s comments after breakfast
The Queen, who is at Windsor Castle, is expected to be briefed about the contents of the interview tomorrow morning. It is likely one of her senior aides will relay Meghan and Harry’s comments after breakfast.
A report is also expected to be made to Prince Charles, who is spending lockdown with the Duchess of Cornwall at Highgrove in Gloucestershire.
Meanwhile, the Palace press office will be preparing overnight for the expected barrage of questions from the global media after the interview.
Although they will be reluctant to engage in a so-called ‘running commentary’ on the Sussexes’ interview, aides will prepare responses in case there are specific claims that have to be answered.
During recent months, the Queen has been having private conversations with Harry over his decision to step down from Royal duties.
She is said to be ‘saddened’ at his decision to quit and has made it clear he will not keep honorary military titles or other Royal patronages.
The Queen (pictured with the Sussexes in 2018) has not been given an ‘advanced copy’ of Meghan and Harry’s tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey, reports claim
It emerged yesterday that CBS is paying up to £6.5 million for the rights to broadcast the interview.
But despite the eye-watering outlay, the channel will make tens of millions from the programme, which will be broadcast in more than 70 countries. ITV is said to have paid £1 million to screen it in the UK.
CBS is also reportedly charging advertisers £234,000 for a 30-second slot during the interview.