Is Meghan and Harrys interview a bigger crisis for the monarchy than the Diana scandal?

Publish Date : 2021-03-08

Is Meghan and Harrys interview a bigger crisis for the monarchy than the Diana scandal?

Meghan's powerfully honest admission in her conversation with Oprah is likely to be as explosive as Princess Diana's sit-down with the BBC's Martin Bashir back in 1995 -- which helped spark a crisis that took the monarchy years to recover from.

The Duchess of Sussex's words could potentially be even more seismic than the late Princess of Wales's because the questions she raises are harder for the palace to answer.
Harry told Oprah: "What I was seeing was history repeating itself, but more, perhaps -- or definitely far more dangerous, because then you add race in."

For Meghan, the feelings of loneliness and isolation that drove her to suicidal thoughts were only compounded when, in her last months of pregnancy, she was told their newborn would not be given a title. Being a prince or princess was of little consequence to couple -- except that that withholding a title meant their child wouldn't have the security that comes with it.
"It's like, okay, well, he needs to be safe," Meghan explained. "But if you're saying the title is what's going to affect their protection, we haven't created this monster machine around us in terms of clickbait and tabloid fodder. You've allowed that to happen, which means our son needs to be safe."

Meghan then disclosed that there had been "concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he's born." Visibly shocked, Oprah pressed the Duchess, who explained Harry had several conversations with unnamed royals.

"It was really hard to be able to see those as compartmentalized conversations," Meghan continued. When asked by Oprah if the concern was that "if he were too brown that would be a problem," Meghan said she wasn't "able to follow up with why."

"But that -- if that's the assumption you're making, I think that feels like a pretty safe one, which was really hard to understand," she added.

Harry refused to elaborate on the specifics of the conversation later during the interview and only added that "at the time, it was awkward. I was a bit shocked." The Duke did offer that it wasn't the first time the subject had been raised; in fact, it had been broached "right at the beginning."

"There were some real obvious signs before we even got married that this was going to be really hard," Harry added.

CNN has reached out for comment from the palace but had not heard back by the time of publishing. However, any statement will be viewed by many as a response to the charge of institutional racism.

Then there's the claim the monarchy failed in its duty of care for Meghan when she had "very clear and very scary" thoughts of suicide. Meghan says she tried and failed to appeal to a senior staff member and the palace's human resources department, but wasn't offered any support.

"I went to the institution, and I said that I needed to go somewhere to get help. 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," the Duchess revealed.

It was only after they were married that Meghan truly appreciated what she had taken on.

"Not only was I not being protected but that they were willing to lie to protect other members of the family, but they weren't willing to tell the truth to protect me and my husband," she said.

Meghan used a story that leaked many months after her wedding as an example. The report claimed Meghan had made Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, cry during a dress fitting for the flower girls but the Duchess of Sussex said it was actually the other way around.

"The narrative about, you know, making Kate cry, I think was the beginning of a real character assassination," she said. "And they knew it wasn't true. And I thought, well, if they're not going to kill things like that, then what are we going to do?"

Meghan said it was a stressful time and opted not to elaborate further as Kate had apologized and all was forgiven between them but "what was hard to get over was being blamed for something that not only I didn't do."

The tete-a-tete with Oprah was billed, in the weeks leading up to it, as a bombshell broadcast and it did not fail to deliver. When compared to Diana's interview, it will easily go down in history as being as (if not more) disruptive, given the shocking revelations around race and the prevalence of social media today.

For many Black and mixed-race people both in Britain and around the world, Harry's choice in life partner really held meaning. For some, the fact that a biracial woman was marrying into the royal family was something they never imagined, and it made the family more relevant.

To now discover that the perceived optics surrounding the color of their future children's skin was being considered will horrify people. The question now is: How will the palace respond? And, more importantly, will it take any action on the accusations of racism leveled at it? It's already faced questions about its relevance, it must now rebuild trust and show that it can hold itself to higher standards.

The royal family was able to survive the Diana scandal because it restored the public's faith in the institution -- aided by the world's interest in her two sons, William and Harry, and the women they married. What "The Firm" does next, in response to this profound interview, and the revelations in it, will determine if it can long-term overcome the damage sustained from losing Harry and Meghan -- two of its most loved senior royals -- from its ranks.

The duty of any monarchy is to represent all its subjects but some people will feel today that it no longer applies to them.

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