Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan’s explosive Oprah Winfrey interview offered plenty of answers as to why the couple stepped away from their roles as senior members of the royal family. But it also raised new questions for many viewers.
Sunday’s two-hour interview, along with additional clips released Monday, covered a sweeping range of of bombshell moments (including Meghan revealing she and Harry actually married before their 2018 wedding extravaganza) and raised further questions, such as what the palace’s role was in tabloid stories about Meghan and Kate’s relationship and who, if not the queen or her husband, was responsible for the conversations about baby Archie’s skin color.
For some American viewers unfamiliar with the inner workings of the British royal family, it also posed some technical questions about terms brought up: namely, “The Firm,” a faceless institution blamed for several of Harry and Meghan’s qualms with royal life.
“Oprah With Meghan and Harry: A CBS Primetime Special” will air this Sunday, March 7 at 8 p.m. EST/PST. (Photo: HARPO PRODUCTIONS – JOE PUGLIESE)
‘I didn’t want to be alive anymore’: Duchess Meghan opens up in Oprah interview, more major moments
“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,” Meghan told Winfrey in a teaser clip, reflecting on how she felt about the palace hearing her speak out. “And if that comes with risk of losing things – I mean, there’s a lot that’s been lost already.”
What is ‘The Firm’ in the royal family?
This reference caused an uproar. Brits understand the “The Firm” to mean the royal family, so critics such as breakfast show co-host Piers Morgan accused Meghan of calling her in-laws liars.
Royal family biographer Penny Junor wrote in her 2005 book “The Firm: The Troubled Life of the House of Windsor” that the nickname was coined by George VI, who was referring to the House of Windsor, aka the British royal family.
“When you’re head of The Firm, there are people around you that give you advice,” Prince Harry said of his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, in a bonus clip shared Monday. “What has also made me really sad is some of that advice has been really bad.”
But Meghan may have also been referring to senior officials in the palace bureaucracy – the “men in grey suits,” as exasperated Princess Diana once called them – whom Meghan believes have lied and leaked about her to unfriendly media for years.
Duchess Kate of Cambridge, Prince William, Prince Harry, and Duchess Meghan of Sussex at the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey in London on March 11, 2019. (Photo: RICHARD POHLE/AFP/Getty Images)
Who is ‘the institution’ in the monarchy?
Similarly, Meghan also expressed frustration with “the institution” of the monarchy, because she wasn’t an employee, she was told. She couldn’t check into a hospital because it wouldn’t look good.
“You can’t just call an Uber to the palace,” she half-joked. She even consulted one of the late Princess Diana’s close friends, because “who else would understand what’s it’s like on the inside” of the royal family?
Meghan clarified to Winfrey that the “institution” was separate from the actual family – an office of employees working for and with the royals.
“So there’s the family, and then there’s the people that are running the institution,” Meghan said. “Those are two separate things. And it’s important to be able to compartmentalize that, because the Queen, for example, has always been wonderful to me.”
It’s the same term Harry and Meghan used last year when they announced they would be stepping back as senior members of the royal family: “After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution,” they wrote.
Contributing: Maria Puente
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Previously: Queen Elizabeth speaks on ‘unity,’ ‘dedication’ in Commonwealth address before Harry, Meghan interview
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