Kate Middleton hails ‘amazing work’ of key workers and NHS staff throughout the Covid crisis
The Royal Family has put on a united front to mark Commonwealth Day ahead of Harry and Meghan’s bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey on Sunday.
Kate Middleton will hail the ‘amazing work’ of key workers and frontline NHS staff throughout the coronavirus crises in the special Commonwealth programme – which will be aired just hours before the Sussexes’ no-holes-barred Oprah tell-all.
The Duchess of Cambridge will also say it was ‘sad, almost’ how it has taken a pandemic for the public to ‘really back and support all those working on the front line’.
Meanwhile, Prince Charles will issue a profound tribute to the ‘extraordinary determination, courage and creativity’ of people across the Commonwealth following a trying 12 months.
American network CBS is set to air Harry and Meghan’s two-hour special in the US at 1am UK time on Monday morning – with ITV broadcasting the show at 9pm that evening.
ITV has faced furious backlash at the decision to push ahead with releasing the interview while Harry’s 99-year-old grandfather Prince Philip recovers from heart surgery in hospital.
The interview is set to make uncomfortable viewing for the royal family, with over-produced teaser trailers already seeing the Duchess of Sussex accuse the ‘Firm’ of ‘perpetuating falsehoods’ about her and Prince Harry during their time in Kensington Palace.
Senior royals have banded together ahead of the highly-anticipated two-hour interview – which they will watch along with the rest of the world on Sunday – as they turn their attention to a Commonwealth Day celebration to be released on Sunday.
The Queen, the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Countess of Wessex and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge address the global impact of the coronavirus pandemic in the programme.
A Celebration For Commonwealth Day will be on BBC One in the UK and globally on the BBC’s YouTube channel from 5pm on Sunday.
In an extract from the programme, Kate and William chat in a video call with Dr Zolelwa Sifumba, from South Africa, an advocate for the rights of healthcare workers on the front line.
The Duchess of Cambridge’s (pictured with the Duke of Cambridge) comments came as the Royals celebrated Commonwealth Day in a BBC TV show. The couple spoke to Dr Zolelwa Sifumba, from South Africa
During the programme, Charles pays tribute to the ‘extraordinary determination, courage and creativity’ of the Commonwealth’s people during the Covid crisis
Camilla (pictured) is featured speaking to broadcaster Clare Balding about how her interest in books was inspired by her father Major Bruce Shand’s love for literature
The Countess of Wessex marked Commonwealth Day and International Women’s Day, which are both celebrated on Monday, by speaking by videolink to three women from around the Commonwealth, to hear about their experiences of supporting other women
The duchess told the medic: ‘Here in the UK there’s been masses of public recognition of the amazing work the front line are doing and it’s sad, almost, that it’s taken the pandemic for the public to really back and support all those working on the front line.’
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children – Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis – were pictured last year joining in the weekly applause for frontline workers during the early part of the pandemic.
Dr Sifumba said: ‘We actually know the problems, we see the problems every day, you walk into work there are the problems.
‘The problem is our voices are not heard. We are on the front lines and we are expected to lift humanity. So my advice to everybody is, if you know a healthcare worker – any healthcare worker – you just love on them, love on them, love on them some more.
‘If their child needs looking after offer, you know, if they need a meal, offer.’
William added: ‘We, Catherine and I, have spoken to a lot of healthcare workers in UK and around the world over the last year – we hear your worries and your concerns and thank you for your time chatting to us about it.’
An extract from the Commonwealth programme released today follows reports that the Queen has not been given an ‘advance copy’ of Meghan and Harry’s tell-all interview with Oprah.
Senior royals and Palace aides will watch the much-anticipated interview ‘at the same time’ as the rest of the world after it is released at 1am UK time on Monday morning .ITV will broadcast it at 9pm that evening.
Officials have vowed to ‘reserve judgement’ on the show and will decide on Monday whether to make a public response in light of anything specific Meghan and Harry have to say.
Sources yesterday told the Mirror the Queen does not have an ‘advance copy’ of the no-holds-barred special – which is set to contain ‘shocking’ revelations about Meghan’s short time as a working royal.
The Queen’s commonwealth special – which will be aired before the interview on Sunday – will see Prince Charles pay tribute to the ‘extraordinary determination, courage and creativity’ of the Commonwealth’s people during the Covid crisis.
Speaking from Westminster Abbey – where he was last seen publicly with Meghan and Harry during a Commonwealth Day service last year – he says the pandemic and climate change are ‘existential threats’ which have no borders.
The prince added: ‘The coronavirus pandemic has affected every country of the Commonwealth, cruelly robbing countless people of their lives and livelihoods, disrupting our societies and denying us the human connections which we so dearly cherish.
A Hollywood insider with ties to the Sussexes tells DailyMail.com, ‘Even if Meghan had the choice to postpone the Oprah special she said she wouldn’t’
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
‘Amidst such heart-breaking suffering, however, the extraordinary determination, courage and creativity with which people have responded has been an inspiration to us all.
‘This pandemic has shown us the true nature of a global emergency. We have learned that human health, economic health and planetary health are fundamentally interconnected and that pandemics, climate change and biodiversity loss are existential threats which know no borders.’
Camilla is featured speaking to broadcaster Clare Balding about how her interest in books was inspired by her father Major Bruce Shand’s love for literature.
The duchess said: ‘I’ve always had a passion for books. Books have been part of my life for so long. I started reading when I was very very young with a father who was a fervent bibliophile.
‘So from the age of two or three he used to sit and read to us children, take us on wonderful adventures… all over the world.’
The piece was recorded at Westminster Abbey’s Poets’ Corner and the pair were joined by videolink by award-winning teacher Ranjitsinh Disale.
Camilla said: ‘I think I was bitten at that age and from then I’ve just kept going, and I’ve got involved in a lot of literacy programmes and patronages. I just feel very strongly that all children should be taught to read.’
Sophie marked Commonwealth Day and International Women’s Day, which are both celebrated on Monday, by speaking by videolink to three women from around the Commonwealth, to hear about their experiences of supporting other women and their wider communities.
The Sussexes, ITV and CBS have all faced furious backlash at the decision to push ahead with broadcasting the interview while Harry’s 99-year-old grandfather Prince Philip recovers from heart surgery in hospital.
Senior royals (the family pictured together last year) and Palace aides will watch the much-anticipated interview ‘at the same time’ as the rest of the world with network CBS set to air the two-hour special in the US at 1am UK time on Sunday night
A friend earlier said Meghan would never ask to postpone Sunday’s release of her tell-all interview and claimed the royal family is using the Duke of Edinburgh’s health as an excuse to keep her ‘muzzled’.
Although most of the interview will be a one-to-one chat on what the duchess has to say about her brief but acrimonious time as a working royal, Harry is understood to come in towards the end to have his say on the media and discuss their plans for the future.
It is believed that this approach has in part been done in an attempt to distance himself from any of the stronger allegations made about his own family by his wife.
But if the 36-year-old prince, who is still sixth in line to the throne, thinks it will go any way to protecting his already fragile relationships with his relatives, notably his brother, the Duke of Cambridge, he will have to think again.
Mounting pressure has been put on Meghan and Harry to push back the much-anticipated interview special out of respect for Prince Philip’s health
William has barely spoken to his brother in recent months and their relationship is said to be ‘hanging by a thread’ – although Prince Charles is understood to have tried not to get involved.
Despairing officials also cannot believe that Harry is so ‘blinkered’ that he cannot see how the interview is likely to destroy any vestige of trust between him and his family.
It comes as the charity watchdog is reviewing Harryand Meghan’s charity amid concerns about how it was run and whether it complied with charity law before it was shut down last year following their move to the US.
Sources told the Telegraph the Charity Commission has opened a ‘regulatory and compliance case’ into Sussex Royal, though the watchdog has not yet determined whether or not there was any wrongdoing.
Mounting pressure has been put on Meghan, Harry and CBS to push back the much-anticipated interview special out of respect for Harry’s grandfather Prince Philip, who is recovering from heart surgery.
But a friend of the Sussexes tells DailyMail.com exclusively, ‘Even if Meghan had the choice to postpone the Oprah special she said she wouldn’t because it has absolutely nothing to do with Prince Philip and that this is just an excuse by the palace to keep her muzzled.’
In a teaser released Wednesday, Meghan accused the Royal Family of ‘perpetuating falsehoods’ about her and Harry.
The clip was released the same day Buckingham Palace launched a probe into allegations that Meghan bullied her staff. The unprecedented inquiry came after Meghan was accused of inflicting ’emotional cruelty’ on aides who said she is playing the victim.
Royal staff said they are members of the ‘Sussex Survivors’ Club’ after working for the couple, with some claiming they have suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety because of their treatment by Harry and Meghan.
But our source said, ‘[Meghan] said these outrageous allegations confirm why she and Harry had to part ways and make it their mission to be a voice for the underdog.
‘Meghan said not once did anyone from the Palace come to her defense when she was being shredded by the tabloids, but now all of a sudden it’s okay for those same people to talk to the media.
‘She said it’s a double standard and not in a million years would Kate ever be treated this way. Meghan said she was singled out from day one.
‘Meghan said she is beyond relieved and grateful that she can enjoy her pregnancy surrounded by love and support, unlike what she experienced behind the walls of the Palace.’
On Friday another promo clip was released of the interview. In it, Meghan claimed royal aides blocked her from having a personal conversation with Oprah in the months leading up to her wedding to Prince Harry.
Oprah revealed she called Meghan in February or March 2018 – two or three months before her wedding at Windsor Castle in May that year – to ask for an interview, but she declined because it was not ‘the right time’.
On Wednesday, the Palace confirmed that its HR team will ‘look into’ the allegations, saying it ‘does not and will not tolerate bullying or harassment in the workplace’
The bullying claims emerged in a 2018 email sent by Harry and Meghan’s press chief Jason Knauf, who now works for Prince William. This sparked an extraordinary chain of events where the Sussexes accused Buckingham Palace of smearing them. The Queen then launched an inquiry into the bullying claims
Meghan said she remembered that chat with Oprah ‘very well’ and ‘wasn’t even allowed to have this conversation with you personally’ because there had to be other people in the room sitting in.
Asked why she was now speaking out, Meghan gave a long pause, before saying: ‘Well, so many things. That we’re on the other side of a lot of – a lot of life experience that’s happened, and also that we have the ability to make our own choices in a way that I couldn’t have said yes to you then.’
Harry and Meghan’s Sussex Royal charity ‘under review from charity watchdog’ amid questions on ‘how organisation was closed’ when couple moved to US
The charity watchdog is reviewing Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s charity amid concerns on how it was run and whether it complied with charity law before it was shut down last year following their move to the US.
Sources told the Telegraph the Charity Commission has opened a ‘regulatory and compliance case’ into Sussex Royal, though the watchdog has not yet determined whether or not there was any wrongdoing.
The Commission first looked at Sussex Royal and Prince William and Kate Middleton‘s charity The Royal Foundation in July after an anti-monarchy group asked it to investigate hundreds of thousands of pounds’ worth of grants.
Lawyers for the Sussexes told the newspaper that ‘any suggestion of mismanagement or decision-making being handled in a ‘rash’ fashion solely by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex would be entirely false’.
They added that the philanthropic organisation was ‘managed by a board of trustees which made decision about the charity in accordance with its constitutional document and the requirements of charity law’.
It is unclear if the Royal Foundation is also being reviewed by the Commission. A Charity Commission spokesman told the Telegraph: ‘Our regulatory compliance case is ongoing. We cannot comment further.’
The charity watchdog first looked at Sussex Royal and The Royal Foundation last year after anti-monarchy group Republic asked it to examine nearly £300,000 of grants, including £145,000 given to the Sussexes’ former UK charity.
It is understood that the Commission deemed the transfer of money from the Royal Foundation to Sussex Royal appropriate, though some of the trustees expressed ‘disappointment’ by the transfer, the Telegraph reports.
One source told the paper that it was ‘very frustrating’ and looked from the outside like ‘rash’ decision-making by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
The Royal Foundation also made grants totalling £151,856 ‘for the continued development of the Duke of Sussex’s Sustainable Tourism programme, Travalyst’, alongside the £145,000 grant to Sussex Royal.
According to UK charity law, a ‘regulatory compliance case’ falls short of a formal investigation. If the regulator finds wrongdoing, it can then issue formal regulatory advice or issue an official warning.
She added: ‘That wasn’t my choice to make. So as an adult who lived a really independent life to then go into this construct that is different than I think what people imagine it to be, it’s really liberating to be able to have the right and the privilege in some ways to be able to say yes, I’m ready to talk.’
Oprah said Meghan was now ready to ‘say it for yourself’, which the Duchess agreed with, adding that she now did ‘not to have to consult with anybody at this point’. Meghan added: ‘Yeah, to make a choice your own and be able to speak for yourself.’
Oprah raised eyebrows when she attended the wedding in May 2018 among many observers who had no idea the billionaire US chat show legend even knew the couple.
She is thought to have only met the Duchess once face-to-face before being invited to the star-studded nuptials and given a plum seat next to senior royals.
Their sit-down at Kensington Palace months before the ceremony was reportedly initiated by Gayle King, a mutual friend and presenter on CBS This Morning, who is said to have set up the initial phone call between the pair.
Oprah has also promoted the Duchess’s range of vegan coffee to her 19million Instagram followers, visited her mother Doria for ‘kumquats and yoga in the garden’ and even teamed up with Harry to secure an Apple TV deal.
The first of two clips released on Monday saw Oprah ask Meghan: ‘Were you silent or were you silenced?’. Oprah added: ‘I just want to make it clear to everybody that there is no subject that is off limits’. Two further sections of that clip saw Oprah say the phrases ‘almost unsurvivable’ and ‘sounds like there was a breaking point’.
That same clip also featured Harry saying: ‘My biggest concern was history repeating itself’ – and two further snippets of Oprah saying: ‘You’ve said some pretty shocking things here’, and ‘Wait, hold, hold up, wait a minute.’
The second clip released on Monday saw Harry say: ‘For me, I’m just really relieved and happy to be sitting here talking to you with my wife by my side, because I can’t begin to imagine what it must have been like for her (my mother Princess Diana) going through this process by herself all those years ago, because it’s been unbelievably tough for the two of us. But at least we have each other.’
The program will be broadcast in more than 70 countries – including Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy, about 40 nations in sub-Saharan Africa and even Iceland – in deals experts say will be worth ‘a king’s ransom’.
More countries will be announced in the coming days under arrangements that could earn tens of millions of pounds for CBS. The Sussexes are not being paid for the chat and will not receive a slice of the syndication profits.
CBS is said to be charging advertisers more than $150,000 for a 30-second slot. PR insider Mark Borkowski said: ‘With 70 countries, a conservative estimate is that this is going to make tens of millions. I can’t see anything less than that.
‘You’re looking at a king’s ransom and it’s going to be a massive payday for CBS. The last event on a scale like this was probably Meghan’s own wedding. If it had been outside of Covid and the ravages of that on the ad industry it might have been a bigger deal, but it’s still going to be a huge piece of content to have.’
A source close to the couple said of the timing: ‘There are a lot of people who are going to talk about this until the program airs, but the programming and all the rest of it is ultimately up to CBS. We’re not involved in that side of things. As it stands, I don’t think there is any intention from the program maker to change its air date.’
Tory MP Bob Blackman said: ‘To be doing a tell-all interview screened in the UK when Philip is in hospital… they are badly advised, to put it mildly. None of these royal interviews have gone well and I can’t see this going any better.’
The tell-all chat with Oprah Winfrey was filmed at a location in California last month and will be shown in the US on Sunday
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at their wedding at Windsor Castle in May 2018 (left), which Oprah Winfrey attended (right)
Ahead of its release, CBS presenter Gayle King (left), who is good friends with Oprah, tweeted (right): ‘Two days and counting till Oprah’s interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry… This morning we have an EXCLUSIVE preview’
In another trailer, Meghan calls her husband’s family ‘The Firm’ and blames them for her decision to speak out.
Oprah asks her: ‘How do you feel about the Palace hearing you speak your truth today?’
An emotional Meghan replies: ‘I don’t know how they could expect that after all of this time we would still just be silent if there is an active role that The Firm is playing in perpetuating falsehoods about us’.
The Duchess adds: ‘And, if that comes with risk of losing things, there is a lot that has been lost already.’
It’s not clear which ‘falsehoods’ Meghan is talking about because the interview was recorded before she was accused of ‘driving out’ two PAs and shattering the confidence of another member of Kensington Palace staff – with one former aide branding Prince Harry and his wife ‘outrageous bullies.’
Hours after she made the claims, Buckingham Palace revealed the Duke of Edinburgh, 99, underwent a ‘successful procedure for a pre-existing heart condition’ and will remain in hospital for ‘treatment, rest and recuperation for a number of days’.
Commonwealth Day in 2020 was the scene of Harry and Meghan’s final official public engagement last year. The 2021 service was cancelled for the first time in nearly half a century, because of the pandemic
Meghan suggests she has no fears about losing her royal privileges by speaking out, claiming: ‘If that comes with risk of losing things, there is a lot that has been lost already’
Buckingham Palace will braced for a weekend of potentially damaging revelations and will no doubt be nervously watching developments in the US to see what further claims are made in the interview.
Meanwhile other Royal Family members carried on with their engagements – including Prince William and Kate who had a videocall with the parents of a boy helped by a mental health text helpline that they are supporting.
While CBS was broadcasting, the @RoyalFamily Twitter account quoted a post about how the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had spoken to a family whose lives were changed by a message to a mental health support service.
The Queen has also continued working while her husband has been in hospital – including encouraging people to get the Covid-19 vaccine, holding phone calls with Armed Forces chiefs and virtually unveiling a new statue of herself in Australia.
The pair were both labeled ‘outrageous bullies’, according to sensational claims.
‘Broken’ royal aides told of feeling humiliated, ‘sick’, ‘terrified’, left ‘shaking’ with fear, and being reduced to tears by the duchess.
In an extraordinary statement, Buckingham Palace announced a formal probe into the allegations surrounding the Queen’s grandson and his wife. Members of staff will be invited to contribute in confidence.
The Duchess of Sussex (pictured with the royal family) is accused of ‘driving out’ two PAs and shattering the confidence of another member of Kensington Palace staff – with one former aide branding Harry and his wife ‘outrageous bullies’ in The Times earlier this week
A photograph released by Kensington Palace today of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during their videocall with the parents of a schoolboy who have praised the text helpline, Shout 85258, developed by the couple’s Royal Foundation
The Palace said: ‘We are clearly very concerned about allegations in The Times following claims made by former staff of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
‘Accordingly our HR team will look into the circumstances outlined in the article. Members of staff involved at the time, including those who have left the Royal Household, will be invited to participate to see if lessons can be learned.
‘The household has had a dignity at work policy in place for a number of years and does not and will not tolerate bullying or harassment in the workplace.’
It does not appear that the duke and duchess will be consulted at this stage. However, Harry and Meghan have strenuously denied any bullying.
In response to the reports, they accused the Queen’s staff of orchestrating a ‘calculated smear campaign’. But Palace sources slapped down the smear claim as utterly ‘disingenuous’.
The allegations and resulting probe – as well as accusations by the duchess that Buckingham Palace, and therefore the Queen, are deliberately moving against her – sees a new low in relations between the two parties.
When the couple acrimoniously quit last year as working royals, the elderly monarch made clear her regret and made a point of saying they were still much loved members of her family.
Aides said the hope was that they could still return for family events such as Trooping the Colour, the official celebration of the Queen’s birthday when royals gather on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, and other important occasions.
Piers Morgan brands Meghan Markle’s friend Patrick J Adams a ‘jumped-up twerp’ after the Suits actor called the Royal Family ‘obscene’ and suggested it should be abolished
By James Gant For Mailonline
Piers Morgan has slammed Meghan Markle’s friend Patrick J Adams after the Suits actor hit out at the Royal Family and suggested it should be abolished.
The GMB presenter branded him a ‘jumped-up twerp’ and said his comments were ‘disgusting’ after the Canadian actor’s lengthy Twitter post.
The spat came after Buckingham Palace opened an investigation into allegations the Duke and Duchess of Sussex bullied staff at Kensington Palace.
The GMB presenter branded the Suits actor (pictured with Meghan in the show) a ‘jumped-up twerp’ and said his comments were ‘disgusting’ after the Canadian actor’s lengthy Twitter post
Piers Morgan (pictured) has slammed Meghan Markle’s friend Patrick J Adams after the Suits actor hit out at the Royal Family and suggested it should be abolished
Mr Adams, 39, who played Meghan’s onscreen husband, wrote: ‘Meghan Markle and I spent the better part of a decade working together on Suits.
‘From day one she was an enthusiastic, kind, cooperative, giving, joyful and supportive member of our television family. She remained that person and colleague as fame, prestige and power accrued.
‘She has always been a powerful woman with a deep sense of morality and a fierce work ethic and has never been afraid to speak up, be heard and defend herself and those she holds dear.
‘Like the rest of the world, I have watched her navigate the last few years in astonishment.
‘She fell in love, moved to a new country, became a household name across the entire globe and began the difficult work of trying to find her place in a family dynamic that can at best be described as complicated and at worst, seemingly archaic and toxic.’
He went on: ‘And then they welcomed Archie. And on any sort of decent planet that would be a time to stop sharpening the knives and let these two people enjoy the magical early months and years of starting a family. But we don’t live on that planet and instead the hunt continued.
‘It’s OBSCENE that the Royal Family, who’s newest member is currently GROWING INSIDE OF HER, is promoting and amplifying accusations of ‘bullying’ against a woman who herself was basically forced to flea the UK in order protect her family and her own mental health.
‘IMO, this newest chapter and it’s timing is just another stunning example of the shamelessness of a institution that has outlived its relevance, is way overdrawn on credibility and apparently bankrupt of decency.
‘Find someone else to admonish, berate and torment. My friend Meghan is way out of your league.’
Mr Morgan, 55, replied: ‘Actually, what’s ”OBSCENE” is your friend trashing her husband’s family on global TV as the Queen’s 99-yr-old husband lies in hospital.
‘How dare you attack our Royal Family like this, you jumped-up little twerp.’
He added: ‘Meghan Markle’s showbiz mates who flew over and grovelled up to the Royals at her wedding now publicly trashing the Monarchy – and suggesting it be abolished.
At least 10 former members of royal staff are prepared to take part in the Buckingham Palace inquiry, which will be conducted by the human resources department, the Mirror reported.
Buckingham Palace said it was ‘very concerned’ by the bullying accusations made by former royal staff against Meghan as it launched the investigation this week.
Past and present employees have been invited to speak in confidence about their experiences of working for the duchess.
Jason Knauf, the Sussexes’ then communications secretary, is said to have made a bullying complaint in October 2018 in an apparent attempt to get Buckingham Palace to protect staff.
Mr Knauf reportedly sent an email outlining the duchess’s alleged actions to Simon Case, the Duke of Cambridge’s then private secretary and now the Cabinet Secretary, after conversations with Samantha Carruthers, the head of human resources.
Mr Case then forwarded it to Ms Carruthers, who was based at Clarence House.
Downing Street said Boris Johnson continued to have full confidence in Simon Case, but the bullying allegations were a matter for the palace.
Mr Knauf wrote in his email: ‘I am very concerned that the duchess was able to bully two PAs out of the household in the past year. The treatment of X was totally unacceptable.
‘The duchess seems intent on always having someone in her sights. She is bullying Y and seeking to undermine her confidence.
‘We have had report after report from people who have witnessed unacceptable behaviour towards Y.’
Mr Knauf left a few months after making his allegations and is now a close aide to Harry’s brother, working as the chief executive of William and Kate’s Royal Foundation.
Meghan’s spokesman said: ‘The duchess is saddened by this latest attack on her character, particularly as someone who has been the target of bullying herself and is deeply committed to supporting those who have experienced pain and trauma.
‘She is determined to continue her work building compassion around the world and will keep striving to set an example for doing what is right and doing what is good.’
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