It’s arguably one of the most explosive – and divisive – television moments in living memory; Oprah with Meghan and Harry finally aired in the UK last night on ITV after premiering in the States on Sunday on CBS News. But while our nation digests the unprecedented revelations about the royal family: including shocking accusations of racism and how Meghan felt suicidal over the way she was treated by ‘The Firm’ while five months pregnant with Archie, how has the interview been received on the other side of the pond?
A staggering 17.1 million viewers tuned in to watch the interview special in the U.S on Sunday night – which, as The Hollywood Reporter noted, aside from the post-Super Bowl premiere of US drama The Equalizar on February 7, is the biggest audience for any non-sports programme on all the broadcast networks in the 2020 – 21-season. And while debate rages ferociously in the UK as to whether Prince Harry has betrayed his family, the U.S seems to have come out with widespread sympathy towards the couple who now count Meghan’s native California as their home. Indeed, even President Biden commented via his Press Secretary stating, “For anyone to come forward and speak about their own struggles with mental health and tell their own personal story, that takes courage. And that’s certainly something the president believes.”
Speaking to GLAMOUR, E! Entertainment’s Chief Correspondent and Head of News, Melanie Bromley, who is British but has been based in Los Angeles for over ten years and reports on the royal family for the network, says the couple’s claims have caused “complete outrage” towards the royal family in America.
“I think here in the US, people feel incredibly sorry for Meghan as she is one of their own,” says Melanie. “The idea she went into this royal family with such excitement, and all the glitz and glam of it, that beautiful fairytale wedding, and she went in and was then not treated well is shocking for most people to contemplate.”
Melanie highlights how in America, the widespread feelings towards the royal family has always been less cynical than in Britain, but now following Meghan and Harry’s revelations, America is starting to ask questions.
“Do we just accept this fairytale narrative that has been exported from the UK? Or do we now question it, start to see behind it?” she asks.
“Over here in the States the public are not paying for them out of tax payers money like they are Britain – so there isn’t the inherent level of cynicism that many in the UK have. It’s perhaps less shocking for people in the UK that these allegations could be true. There are of course informed people in the States who know and question the royals – but most people do really accept the fairtytale story that they get fed, the cute pictures of William, Kate and the kids and their love story. I think it’s easy to get caught up in the fairytale romance of the British royal family. So, following this people in the States are understandably surprised and they are left with questions.
But Melanie claims that it is the couple’s claims that they were driven out by racism towards Meghan and that senior members of the family questioned how dark the tone of their unborn child’s skin might be, has understandably caused “complete outrage” in Meghan’s native country.
“They are taking her at her word and for Meghan to then experience not only racism from the outside in the press, but also internally in the family – that has caused complete outrage over here,” she says.
Referring to the on-going national conversation sparked by the Black Lives Matterprotests in the wake of the murder of George Floyd last June, Melanie points out how Harry and Meghan’s claims feed into the nation’s issues surrounding race.
“Here of course there have been a lot of conversations about race in general – in this country there are now lots of questions being asked about people being treated equally and discrimination is at the forefront of the national conversation,” she says.
“Since last year the USA is now going through a whole identity questioning about who we are and are we racist? What can we do better how can we learn? And this is just adding on to that,” she says. “What was actually a family feud is now caught up in this country’s reckoning and what it stands for and the Royal family are now caught up in that too. This royal story is now part of this same conversation over race.”
Melanie highlights how destructive this is for the British monarchy. “I think for those who grew up in Britain who are perhaps ashamed by its colonial past, they are probably not as surprised and a bit more cynical than those in the States who are hearing this” she says. “The racism allegations are Incredibly damaging for the royal family reputation in the States – I think it’s going to require the royal family to respond to this.”
Speaking of Meghan’s experience of being “silenced” by the royals and not being offered any support, Melanie says:
“Remember this is a person who was used to having her voice heard, she was a celebrity, her voice mattered. So, to go into a new way of life and be told ‘no you are only going to speak when we say you can’ – that would have been very hard for her to stomach.
“The thing with Meghan is she could have never really understood the inner workings of the royal family, no matter how hard she did her research – you can’t Google it or learn that kind of thing until you are in it. That is all part of the mystique and the fairtyale, that no one really knows what goes on behind the palace gates. But now we’ve had the inner workings exposed by two of its key players.”
“There’s a lot of support for the couple and as this is such an interesting interview, people are now trying to understand the dynamics within the Royal family now.
“Harry seemed more cautious than Meghan, he understands the implications, once you make racism allegations against the royal family you can’t put that back in the box. You can’t come back from that.
That’s the kind of thing that might ruin his relationship with his family forever – the problems that’s going to cause is so extreme. But people love Harry over here – they will always love Harry – he’s still his mother’s son, they will never forget that over here and there is so much love for him in the States.”
Speaking of the inevitable comparisons between the way Meghan was treated and the way Princess Diana was treated over thirty years ago, Melanie says:
“A lot of people are left wondering how can the royal family let this happen twice for women who come into the family? How can there not be support systems in place?”