Oprah Winfrey’s back. During Sunday night’s instantly seismic interview, she was right there on the Santa Barbara patio, doing what she was born to do: ask emotional and semi-leading questions with precise enunciation and some creative hand gestures to elicit the biggest bombshell answers her subjects are prepared to give. Daylight savings is almost here, the vaccine is going in shoulders left and right, and Oprah’s back, babe.
As you well know by now, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle sat down with HRH of tell-alls on CBS Sunday night to discuss their treatment from the British monarchy, which led to their decision to leave over a year ago. The ripples from their little two-hour chat have only begun to begin (this just in from the palace: They’re in crisis mode!).
Meghan revealed some real humdingers, the biggest one being that someone in the family privately raised concerns about how dark their firstborn Archie’s skin would be. Oprah gave a satisfying “WHAT?” to that.
Meghan also described her time relegated indoors, a kind of prepandemic quarantine to limit her exposure generally because “the institution” thought she was too much in the press already. It sounded a lot like Diana cooped up in the palace in season four of The Crown, which Harry and Meghan admitted to watching some of. For Meghan, it led to suicidal ideation for which the family would not offer help in case it reflected poorly on the institution. Once again, the specter of Diana was very present.
Besides those two revelations, she and Harry countered stories that had been told in the British tabloids, like who made who cry before the wedding and whose decision it was to keep a royal title from Archie (not theirs). That’s quite a bit of stuff—always rumored, but rarely spoken of so plainly—and Oprah was there through it all. Like a good therapist, she was explicitly on their side, and like a good interviewer, she was asking the hard questions—like name the person who said the racist thing to Harry’s face!—twice.
It was clear that Oprah knew what she had here because there have been two interviews for the price of one so far: She spoke with her close friend Gayle King on CBS This Morning on Monday for an interview debriefing (hey, if the Cuomo brothers can be put in conversation so can these two old pals). In the morning-show interview, Oprah made it clear that Harry had told her that neither Queen Elizabeth nor Prince Philip were a part of the skin-color discussion.
It’s been about 10 years since the end of The Oprah Winfrey Show and this was her biggest interview since Whitney Houston in 2009, probably. The last British royal to sit opposite Oprah was Sarah Ferguson in 1996, who divorced Prince Andrew that year.
And it’s felt wonderful to have her back, especially right now when we need an emotional bridge loan to get us to May. There’s Oprah in the Sussexes’ California chicken coop wearing a luxury pandemic hoodie—the most relatable she’ll ever be, nodding along to Britain’s most famous royal defectors yet.
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