The secret messages in Prince Harry and Meghan’s Oprah interview

They may not have said much, but the tantalising teasers released by CBS to showcase Oprah Winfrey’s forthcoming interview with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex spoke volumes about how the couple plan to position themselves in the two-hour TV special.

The Royals have been warned to “hide behind the sofa” when the tell-all chat, in which no subject is said to be “off limits”, airs at 8pm US time on March 7, and around 1am the following morning in the UK.

Using dramatic music to create suspense around what Harry and Meghan have to say, the two, 30-second clips suggest that the Queen, the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge have good cause to be nervous.

So what did the clips tell us about what we should expect from the biggest Royal interview since Diana, the Princess of Wales spoke to the BBC’s Panorama programme?

Harry front and centre

Harry


Credit: CBS

It was billed as “Oprah with Meghan and Harry” but as the two clips show – the prince appears to be the main attraction.

Before filming began, CBS revealed that the programme would start with a one-to-one interview with the Duchess before they are joined by the Duke.

But what was released by CBS on Monday suggests the airtime will be much more evenly split.

Aides agreed that the show was likely to focus on both of them in equal measure, and as a couple.

The clip suggests that some of the more dramatic revelations came from them together rather than from the Duchess alone.

Hence Harry’s revelation that: “It’s been unbelievably tough for the two of us but at least we have each other.”

This double-headed approach continues the couple’s “us vs the world”, which began in the run up to Megxit, when staff complained that Harry and Meghan were increasingly operating in a silo, claiming the institution was working against them when they did not get their way. 

The implication that Harry somehow had to “rescue” Meghan from the Royal family also helps to dispel the suggestion that she was the driving force behind their move to her native California.

The next Diana

Harry Meghan


Credit: CBS

In one of the clips, Harry claims he emigrated to LA with his family because he feared “history repeating itself” after the death of his mother, Princess Diana.

It is not the first time the 36-year-old royal has used the term. In October 2019, he issued a personal statement voicing his anger at the “relentless propaganda” being pitched against Meghan, from the British tabloids, saying his “deepest fear is history repeating itself”.

He said: “I’ve seen what happens when someone I love is commoditised to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person.

“I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces.”

The Duke’s comments once again illustrate how he has aligned their own experience with that of his mother – despite very few similarities between the two.

While Diana was relentlessly pursued by paparazzi, Harry and Meghan were largely left alone while they were living in the UK with very few images of them appearing in the newspapers outside of their official duties. And while a working royal, Meghan was thankfully always protected by a team of Scotland Yard officers and never in any physical danger. 

Harry was understandably incredibly damaged by the death of his mother and has blamed the press, in all of its forms.

He will continue to draw parallels between the experiences of Diana, who was relentlessly followed by photographers but also fed information to newspaper reporters, and Meghan, whom he also believes has been “hounded” by the press.

‘Almost unsurvivable’

In referencing that the couple have said “some pretty shocking things”, Ms Winfrey is clearly whetting the audience’s appetite for more revelations to come.

But the dramatic hyperbole also gives an indication that Meghan is going to be employing some very strong language to describe her 20 months in “The Firm”.

The language echoes the emotive interview she gave to ITV’s Tom Bradby, below, following their tour of Africa in October 2019 when Meghan claimed that “not many people have asked if I’m okay”.

The suggestion that Meghan was “almost at breaking point” suggests that she will echo her husband’s recent interview with James Corden in describing the toll the press scrutiny took on her mental health. 

Two hours

Again, before filming had even begun, CBS announced that it would be a 90-minute special.

Having conducted the interviews, reportedly over two days, the network has now extended the programme to two hours.

The decision is thought to have been made due to the strength of the couple’s comments, something likely to prompt unease in palace circles.

The Sussexes were not involved in the edit and had no control over the final production.

The decision to extend the running time will have been made by Harpo Productions, Ms Winfrey’s production company. The extension will, of course, also allow the company to shoe-horn more adverts into the programme, making it even more profitable.

Silenced

The suggestion that Meghan has somehow been silenced by the Royal family is designed to gain sympathy for her agreeing to this prime-time, two-hour, no holds barred tete-a-tete.

The couple have come under scrutiny for agreeing to speak to the US chat show queen despite complaining of media intrusion and unwanted publicity. 

The couple are expected to argue that they deserve to give their side of the story – in the face of “relentless” and “inaccurate” press coverage, no doubt citing the legal action they have taken against the Mail on Sunday over the publication of Meghan’s letter to her father, Thomas Markle Snr and the disputed story about Harry and the Royal Marines. 

The palace is likely to look unfavourably on any suggestion Meghan wasn’t allowed to have her say, however.

They will point to her Grenfell cookbook, the countless speeches she and Harry gave during engagements, the Queen taking her under her wing with a trip on the Royal train, and Meghan appearing to dominate the conversation during an outing with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to lay out their charitable vision in February 2018.

Throughout, household staff have been at pains to point out that they “bent over backwards” to accommodate the Sussexes’ needs and demands.

The dress

The Duchess chose the flowing black Giorgio Armani dress to convey a very specific message, the Telegraph can reveal.

The £3,300 “long triple silk georgette dress” features a prominent lotus flower design, chosen for its symbolic meaning of revival.

The lotus flower’s daily resurrection is considered proof of its determination and will to live. 

The Duchess understands that a lotus seed can withstand thousands of years without water, able to germinate over two centuries later.

This “refusal to accept defeat” is very much how she sees her own battle against the pressures of royal life.

The dress is understood to be owned by the Duchess, as opposed to having been loaned for the occasion.

It also sends a clear message that Meghan isn’t going to be cowed by criticism of spending too much money on her wardrobe now she is outside of the Royal family. 

The jewellery

The Duchess is wearing a diamond tennis bracelet owned by Harry’s mother, Diana, Princess of Wales – a poignant choice given the couple’s focus on their determination not to let history repeat itself.

It is the same bracelet that he originally took two stones from to have the Duchess’s engagement ring made. It also has a third stone ethically sourced from Botswana.

The bracelet is all the more poignant as it was worn by Diana for one of her last ever public appearances, in June 1997, weeks before she died, to a performance of Swan Lake at the Royal Albert Hall.

Meghan teams it with her gold Cartier Love bangle and an unidentified gold beaded bracelet.

Her earrings are by Birks, a Canadian brand, and the necklace is by British designer Pippa Small, choices made to reflect the countries which she previously called home.

The hair and make-up

Meghan


Credit: CBS

By wearing her hair in a matronly bun – as opposed to the flowing locks we saw in the Corden clip, Meghan appears earnest and maternal rather than too showbizzy.

According to the Telegraph’s beauty expert Sonia Haria, Meghan’s black eyeliner is “reminiscent of what Diana wore in her famous 1995 Panorama interview.”

She said: “It adds a bit of weight and drama and draws all of the attention up to the eyes, which holds a lot of the emotion in these big interviews.”

The backdrop

Meghan harry


Credit: CBS

It appears that the clips were not filmed in the back garden of the couple’s Montecito home, nor at Oprah Winfrey’s nearby mansion – but another location in Santa Barbara.

This may have been to avoid criticism of the couple invading their own privacy by inviting a camera crew onto the premises of their £11 million home.

Last October, the couple received an apology from a news agency that used drones to take “intrusive and illegal” pictures of their son Archie.

Harry and Meghan claimed the pictures were an invasion of privacy and launched legal action in Los Angeles in July.

The outdoor setting is perhaps also designed to enhance the impression that the couple have finally “found their freedom”.

Grand inquisitor

Looking serious and studious in an eye-catching pair of round rimmed spectacles, Ms Winfrey insists: “I just want to make it clear to everybody that there is no subject which is off limits.”

This is designed to reassure viewers that the interview will be robust amid criticism that Harry and Meghan’s choice of grand inquisitor is a close friend likely to give them a largely sympathetic hearing. 

Read more:  Why the rich and famous use Oprah Winfrey to tell all

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