CBS anchor Gayle King will examine the Queen’s private life and her future without late husband Prince Philip for a new TV special that will air just weeks after his death – and two months after the network sent shockwaves through the heart of the Royal Family by broadcasting Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s bombshell interview with Oprah.
The 66-year-old, who counts Oprah Winfrey as her best friend, will host an hour-long show, The Queen Carries On: A Gayle King Special, on Friday night, when she will be joined by the likes of Sir Paul McCartney, former President Barack Obama, and the Queen’s childhood friend and maid of honor Lady Ann Glenconner.
The special will ‘look at [Her Majesty’s] extraordinary life and reign’, focusing on the ‘challenges and controversies, romance and heartbreak’ that she has faced during her 69 years on the throne – including the recent death of Prince Philip, her husband of 73 years – a press release from CBS revealed.
As well as the tragedy of Philip’s passing, the release also dredges up some of the very damaging allegations made by Harry and Meghan during their sit-down with Oprah on March 7, including claims that the Royal Family turned a blind eye to the Duchess’ mental health struggles.
Oprah’s best friend Gayle King is set to delve into the Queen’s private life for a new CBS special that will air two months after the network broadcast Harry and Meghan’s bombshell interview
Tragedy: The Queen Carries On: A Gayle King Special will air on May 14, and will focus on Her Majesty’s life and reign, as well as the death of Prince Philip, her husband of 73 years
CBS noted that the Queen is ‘facing one of the most challenging chapters of her reign’ after the death of her husband, and Harry and Meghan’s decision to quit the Royal Family
The release did not mention the fact that those allegations were made during an interview that was broadcast by CBS.
‘[The Queen is] now 95 and facing one of the most challenging chapters of her reign,’ the statement says.
‘She just lost her husband of 73 years, Prince Philip, whom she called her “strength and stay.” Her grandson, Prince Harry, and his wife Meghan Markle moved to California and are no longer working members of the royal family.
‘They recently made allegations that The Palace did not support Meghan’s struggles with her mental health or protect them from a predatory press.’
During the sit-down, which was filmed in California, near the $14.5 million Montecito mansion where Harry, 36, and pregnant Meghan, 39, are living with son Archie, the Duchess alleged that she reached out to the Royal Family to get professional help after struggling with suicidal thoughts, but was told that she ‘couldn’t’ because it ‘wouldn’t be good for the institution’.
The Duchess of Sussex told Oprah she ‘couldn’t be left alone’ and told her husband she ‘didn’t want to be alive anymore’ before claiming the Buckingham Palace HR department ignored her plea for help because she wasn’t a ‘paid employee’.
In another painful dig, Gayle’s new CBS special will also touch on the ‘collapse of the fairy tale marriage of Diana and Charles’ – and the aftermath of Diana’s ‘tragic death’ 20 years ago.
‘The CBS News special spans the milestones of her journey from princess to Queen, her public and private challenges, her relationship with Prince Philip, the collapse of the fairy tale marriage of Diana and Charles, and her role as grandmother to the two boys Diana left behind after her tragic death in Paris,’ the release continues.
Harry and William are due to reunite for the second time since the Oprah sit-down in order to pay tribute to their late mother by unveiling a statue of Princess Diana on July 1, which would have been her 60th birthday.
It is unclear whether the special will examine the strained relationship between Harry and his brother Prince William, which is said to have grown even more tense in the wake of the Oprah interview.
Interviews: The special will feature insight from guests including Sir Paul McCartney, who will speak about his ‘lifelong connection’ with the Queen (pictured right together in 1996)
Former President Barack Obama will also appear in the special, and is seen describing the Queen as ‘someone who has seen the sweep of world history’ in a preview clip
Friendly: Barack and Michelle were said to have had a close relationship with the Queen during Obama’s time in the White House; they are also good friends with Prince Harry
Throughout the special, Gayle will interview a variety of guests who have varying relationships with the Queen, including Beatles star Paul, who will discuss his ‘lifelong connection’ with her, and former President Obama, who worked closely with the monarch during his time in the White House.
As well as having a close personal relationship with the Queen, Obama and his wife Michelle are also understood to be good friends with Harry and Meghan.
‘She is somebody who has seen the sweep of world history,’ he tells Gayle during a preview clip from the special – which also features sit-downs with royal author Tina Brown, royal commentator Wesley Kerr, and historian Amanda Foreman – while Sir Paul says of the monarch: ‘I think the thing about the Queen is that she’s royal, so you look up to her, because she’s royal, but she’s very down to Earth.’
The new CBS special about the Queen, which will air five weeks to the day after the death of her husband, comes two months after the Royal Family was left reeling from Harry and Meghan’s explosive interview with Gayle’s best friend Oprah, 67.
The tell-all chat with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex aired on March 7, when Prince Philip remained in hospital with a pre-existing heart condition. He died a month later.
The explosive interview sent shockwaves through the royal family, with Prince William later speaking out during a school visit to insist the Firm ‘is very much not racist.’
Of the bombshells dropped during the interview, Meghan and Harry’s accusation that a member of his family expressed ‘concern’ over how ‘dark’ Archie’s skin color would be was the most shocking.
‘At the time it was awkward. I was a bit shocked,’ said Harry, who refused to share further details about the conversation or with whom he had it.
The Duke also hinted at a deep-rooted rift between the brothers during his chat with Oprah, saying the relationship was now just ‘space’, and adding: ‘Time heals all things, hopefully.’
On March 7, CBS aired an interview with Prince Harry, Meghan Markle and Gayle’s best friend Oprah, during which the Sussexes made several damaging allegations about the Royal Family
The fallout from the interview for the Royal Family was swift and long-lasting, however CBS is said to have made millions by selling the rights to broadcasters around the world
Harry, 36, and Meghan, 39, also spoke candidly about the Duchess’ struggles with depression, with the former actress admitting there was a point where ‘I just didn’t want to be alive anymore’.
But though she says she asked the Royal Family for professional help several times, she was told she couldn’t pursue it.
‘I said that, “I’ve never felt this way before, and I need to go somewhere.” And I was told that I couldn’t, that it wouldn’t be good for the institution,’ Meghan said.
Other striking revelations included Prince Harry’s claim that his father had stopped taking his calls, while Meghan contradicted reports that she had made her sister-in-law Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, cry leading up to her wedding — saying it was actually Kate who had made her cry.
Tensions between the Sussexes and the Royal Family are understood to have been at an all-time high in recent weeks in the wake of the primetime sit-down, with Harry facing an uncomfortable reunion with his relatives when he returned to the UK for Prince Philip’s funeral last month.
But while the interview caused serious controversies for the Royal Family, CBS is said to have made millions by selling the rights to broadcasters around the world – and the network certainly made the most of its footage, eking out multiple teaser clips ahead of the broadcast, while Gayle shared several behind-the-scenes tidbits from her best pal Oprah on CBS This Morning.
During the network’s pre- and post-interview coverage, Gayle gave long, opinionated commentary on how the Royal Family allegedly treated Meghan, and at one point, she and and her co-hosts even claimed that the Duchess of Sussex had been ‘vilified’ and ‘oppressed’ by The Firm.
However that did not stop CBS from facing bitter backlash over its decision to air the interview while the Duke of Edinburgh was still in hospital recovering from heart surgery.
Gayle later claimed that the network had a contingency plan not to air it if his condition worsened, but many believed that Harry and Meghan should have called for the broadcast to be postponed out of respect for Prince Philip and the Queen.