What do you get when you mix the Queen of All Media with a pair of British royals? Ratings gold. On Sunday night, about 17.1 million people tuned in to watch Oprah Winfrey’s jaw-dropping interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry on CBS, according to early Nielsen figures. The special, a two-hour sit-down during which the couple revealed what led to their departure from Buckingham Palace, was a smash for CBS, drawing the biggest audience of any TV program that aired Sunday. (By comparison, the 2021 Golden Globe Awards, which aired last Sunday, drew just 6.9 million.) The ratings also might grow higher yet, as Nielsen’s fast national ratings don’t include out-of-home viewing numbers, per The Hollywood Reporter.
Oprah With Meghan and Harry was a hotly anticipated program, hyped during the week as the couple’s first major interview since they acrimoniously parted ways with the British royal family. The duo dropped a number of bombshells during the lengthy Oprah interview, including accusing a member of the British royal family of voicing racist concerns over the skin color of Meghan and Harry’s son, Archie. Meghan also revealed that she struggled with suicidal thoughts during the ordeal. “I didn’t want to be alive anymore,” she told Oprah. She also claimed she was rebuffed by the royal institution when she sought help.
Harry spoke about his severed connection to his family as well, saying his father, Prince Charles, stopped taking his calls and that he and his brother, Prince William, are giving each other space. Still, he extended sympathy toward his family, particularly William, who will likely be king one day. “I was trapped, but I didn’t know I was trapped,” he said. “My father and my brother, they are trapped. They don’t get to leave. And I have huge compassion for that.”
Still, Meghan and Harry made it clear that the firm—the side of the monarchy that essentially runs royal operations—failed to support them and, on top of that, declined at various points to offer security to the couple. They also claimed the firm actively courted the vicious tabloids that wrote increasingly nasty coverage of Meghan. The couple invoked Prince Harry’s late mother, Princess Diana, who was treated similarly by the media after she joined the royal family. “My biggest concern was history repeating itself,” Prince Harry said of the media frenzy around Meghan.
The interview, which was feverishly covered by the British press, earned a fresh round of sympathy for the couple—as well as rave reviews for Oprah, who culled a slew of bombshells from the duo with her sharp, sensitive line of questioning. It was followed up the next day on CBS This Morning, where Oprah sat down for an interview with Gayle King and shared more clips from the interview that weren’t aired on television.
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