Former EDP editor Peter Franzen OBE says this week’s interview with Meghan Markle has scarred the Royal Family forever
It would not been an exaggeration to say that the people of Norfolk have a special bond with The Queen and the monarchy. The Royal Family’s stay at Sandringham for Christmas has become just one of the many ways this association has been forged over generations.
So, the tsunami created by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex that now threatens the monarchy will be more deeply felt in this part of England than much of the kingdom.
Watching the Oprah Winfrey interview allowing the Duchess of Sussex a global audience to ‘speak her truth’, felt like an episode of The Crown TV series. And like The Crown it was well acted with enough ‘truth’ to make some of the claims plausible.
As government minister Lord Goldsmith commented: “Harry is blowing up his family”, not “Buckingham Palace”. Goldsmith, a minister for the environment, then tweeted: ‘What Meghan wants; Meghan gets.’
The interview could not have been at a worse time for the 94-year-old Queen as she draws towards the end of her remarkable reign. With her husband, the 99-year-old Duke of Edinburgh recovering in hospital from a heart operation, it was cruel timing.
The interview has given succour to the anti-monarchists. While the Queen and the Duke are greatly admired and respected by the majority of their subjects, the same cannot be said of some other high-ranking members of the Royal Family.
Without doubt the Queen has set very high standards for them to follow, but the allegations in the interview deliberately undermine that legacy. While the Duchess of Sussex used Oprah to voice that both the Queen and the Duke were excluded from her allegations; it was The Firm in her firing line.
But the Queen is the head of The Firm, so despite the Duchess’s attempts to deflect her blows away from the monarch, her allegations wound the Queen and her monarchy.
Anyone who watched the behaviour of Piers Morgan in his ‘rubbishing’ of the Duchess after the Oprah interview may believe his angry behaviour went too far. Sadly, many of the points he made were valid questions to ask of the Duchess but were buried in the bile of his contempt.
He recognised that the Meghan Markle that was, is an accomplished actress from the long running TV series Suits. This was not a heartbroken Princess of Wales pouring her heart out, but an actress who knew how to frame her emotions and facial expressions to extract the most from her lines.
And what lines she had written, pressing all the hot buttons of race, mental health and protection from a toxic media – giving her and Prince Harry no choice but to withdraw from public life and lead a life of privacy in a Los Angeles mansion.
Having watched the entire programme I was struck by how well she played the victim and cited the lack of support she received from The Firm, giving examples of not being shown how to curtsy and that he she had to look up the National Anthem. Really…
She likens herself to the Little Mermaid’s Ariel who “married a Prince and loses her voice”. But according to Disney, Ariel doesn’t lose her voice because she marries a prince. She signs it away to Ursula, willingly, in order to pursue Eric: the choice is hers.
Some of the charges laid against The Firm were naïve. Did the Sussex family really expect the British taxpayer to open-endedly fund their security arrangements while they lived in luxury in Canada or LA, having moved away from Royal duties?
Should their son Archie have been made a Prince at birth? No, not until Charles accedes to the throne and Archie becomes a direct descendant of the monarch. Prince Harry must have known this.
The Oprah interview was one-sided, safe in the knowledge that any rebuttal of the allegations was likely to be brief and unspecific following the Palace mantra of ‘don’t complain, don’t explain’.
Only the Duke of Cambridge has responded when, during a school visit to east London, he was asked by a reporter: “Is the Royal Family a racist family, sir?” Prince William replied: “We’re very much not a racist family.”
Quite what the Sussex family hoped to gain from all this is unclear, but unlike the Little Mermaid fairy-tale it remains to be seen if it will end happily ever after for them.
Time may heal this wounding of the Royal Family but the scar will remain for ever.
Let us hope the Monarchy will too.