Meghan Markle will ‘raise the issue of race in Britain’ and the ‘impact that living in UK had on her mental health’ during Oprah chat, reveals ITV News Royal Editor amid fury at channel paying ‘£1m to air interview’ while Philip is sick
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry will discuss the issue of race in Britain with Oprah Winfrey, it was revealed today.
The Duchess of Sussex will also open up about her self-esteem while living in the UK after her husband claimed the pressure of being in London was ‘destroying’ his mental health so they needed to emigrate to the US and quit as frontline royals.
Meghan, whose mother Doria is African-American and father Thomas is white, became the first mixed race member of the Royal Family after walking down the aisle with Harry at Windsor in May 2018.
ITV’s Royal Editor Chris Ship has revealed that the issue will be discussed with Oprah in the tell-all interview due to be broadcast on CBS in the US on Sunday night and on ITV1 in the UK on Monday at 8pm.
‘I know that she is going to mention things like mental health and the impact of being in the UK had on her mental health. I know that she’s going to mention about the press intrusion, but also she’s going to raise the issue of race in Britain’, Mr Ship told Good Morning Britain.
It is another hint that Meghan will not hold back after a trailer for the show revealed that she calls her 20 months as a royal ‘almost unsurvivable’ and the interviewer brands her account ‘shocking’ and proof her friend was at ‘breaking point’ before moving to California. Oprah also asks if she was ‘silenced’ by the royals.
During the teaser a visibly pregnant Meghan, wearing a $4,700 black Armani dress and £13,000 bracelet belonging to Diana, says nothing, and is only shown looking emotional or nodding while either cradling her baby bump or holding on to her husband’s hand on location in Santa Barbara.
Last year Ms Markle praised the Black Lives Matter protests in America as a ‘beautiful thing’ and she and Harry both spoke out against alleged structural racism in Britain while promoting Black History Month in the UK from their £11million Los Angeles mansion.
ITV has today been branded ‘deplorable’ after it bought up the Duke and Duchess and Sussex’s ‘grossly insensitive’ two-hour interview with Oprah despite warnings its broadcast could detonate a ‘diplomatic bomb’ if the Duke of Edinburgh’s health deteriorates. Philip is starting his third week in hospital after being moved to a cardiac unit, and hasn’t seen his wife the Queen for more than a fortnight.
The Oprah deal is said to have cost the broadcaster around £1million, having beaten Sky to the rights after talks with ViacomCBS were completed yesterday. It was a largely open field in the UK after the BBC declined to broadcast it.
But some experts have questioned whether ITV will make any money from the deal because businesses may not want to advertise during the ‘toxic’ two hour show as Philip battles heart problems in hospital and claims the public have more affection for him than Meghan and Harry.
Some ITV viewers have already vowed to boycott the show completely due to the ‘horrendous timing’.
Royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams, who was editor of International Who’s Who for 25 years, told MailOnline today: ‘ITV’s decision to purchase the rights to Harry and Meghan’s highly sensational interview with Oprah is deplorable. Who knows how matters linked to the Duke’s health will play out over the coming days. ITV have made the wrong decision and they would do well to await events before deciding when to screen it here’.
But the couple’s decision to sign up with a commercial broadcaster means they are unlikely to be able to stop it, with PR guru Mark Borkowski declaring: ‘The timing is just horrendous. This could be a real reputational mess for everybody involved. I think brands have to take a considered view about whether they want their advertising anywhere near this’.
Royal expert Phil Dampier, author of Royally Suited Harry and Meghan in their Own Words said: ‘They can only hope and pray that the Duke recovers and goes home. If something happens to him it would look terrible. Even if Harry and Meghan wanted to stop it they probably can’t and it’s out of their hands’.
One TV insider said that the interview would be a ‘diplomatic bomb’ if it goes ahead and Philip’s health worsens, telling the Mirror: ‘CBS has sold millions of dollars worth of advertising around the interview, but bosses are aware of the delicacy of the Duke’s health.’ The newspaper’s Royal Editor Russell Myers added: ‘The history is there with these types of interview – they never end well – this is a disaster waiting to happen’.
But Prince Charles’ biographer Tom Bower hopes it goes ahead. He said: ‘I think ITV was right to buy the interview. We want to see how Harry and Meghan have sold their souls and are wilfully destroying themselves’.
MailOnline has asked ITV to comment as critics demanded they reverse their decision to show it.
The sit-down, which Oprah promises will be ‘shocking’, has been extended by half an hour, from 90 minutes to two hours, to allow CBS to rake in more money from advertising – a 30-second slot is reported to be costing $200,000, around £144,000. ITV will also set to try to cash in on the deal with up to 24 minutes of advertising time available during the 120 minute show.
But media consultant Chris Hayward believes that ITV may not make money from the £1million deal, however, the broadcaster will believe it will be worth because of the press coverage and getting one over rivals including Sky and streaming giants Netflix and Amazon Prime.
He said: ‘If the idea for ITV was to buy it to draw in advertisers, then I don’t think it will work because Meghan and Harry’s decision to exile abroad is a Marmite subject. But ITV won’t worry about that if they get a big audience because this is about making a big noise and securing one of the biggest TV shows of the year’. He added: ‘This is about PR, and battling Netflix and Amazon’.
The row over the Sussexes’ bid to break America with Oprah’s help came as:
- Experts warn that ITV is taking a gamble by buying the Oprah interview because businesses may be put off advertising during the show with viewers also vowing to boycott it;
- A sombre-looking Prince Harry and Meghan drive themselves around California with her mother Doria after recording Oprah interview about their ‘unbelievably tough’ exit from ‘un-survivable’ royal life;
- The Royal family are ‘united in prayers’ for Prince Philip, 99, as he begins first full day under care of specialist heart doctors at St Bartholomew’s hospital and experts claim he may be there for six weeks;
- Philip’s poor health means the royals have ‘more important things to worry about’ than Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s ‘shocking’ bombshell interview, Buckingham Palace aides insisted;
Brand guru Mark Borkowski told MailOnline that going ahead while Prince Philip is severely ill ‘could herald terrible consequences’ for the royal couple, and damage the ‘caring’ brand they want to build in the US that experts believe could be worth £1billion.
He said: ‘A sensible call would be to put the encounter on hold. It would demonstrate sensitivity. Which lies at the heart of their brand. However the genie is out of the bottle, it might be impossible to halt transmission as it’s scheduled. From the shape of the hype this is going to be a disruptive storm. I believe this might not end well. It just can’t be all about their narrative whilst Harry’s grandfather is ill’.
He added: ‘But I don’t think ITV will lose money. The eyeballs are on this huge TV moment. But the downside for all involved is huge if Prince Philip takes a turn for the worse. No one knows outside Buckingham Palace knows the true extent of his health emergency.
‘Anybody who looks at this through the optics of a caring family, even a family who are estranged from one another, it’s very uncomfortable as you edge towards Sunday’.
‘Surely the disruption, particularly to the Queen… but they’re going ahead with this juggernaut.’
If Philip’s health were to worsen, Mr Borkowski said Harry and Meghan’s fate would be ‘in the lap of the gods’.
‘If you were strategically giving advice about mitigating reputational damage, you would show huge empathy by postponing,’ he said.
Mr Borkowski said a deterioration in Philip’s health would also raise serious issues for ITV as to whether the screening should go ahead in the UK, and could cause problems for advertisers airing commercials during the programme.
Royal biographer Robert Jobson told MailOnline: ‘With the Duke of Edinburgh clearly very unwell, the fact that the couple plan to go ahead with airing their self-indulgent, no holds barred interview with chat show queen Oprah Winfrey makes them appear heartless, thoughtless and supremely selfish.
‘For US broadcast network CBS this interview is a coup, all about securing big viewing figures and big advert sales around the airing of their exclusive interview. So even if they wanted to Harry and Meghan probably couldn’t dictate terms to Oprah Winfrey and the network now. Too much has been invested. I can’t see them having the clout to pull it’. He added: ‘This is the problem when royals swap big bucks for duty and sign up to big paying commercial contracts. They lose the power to dictate terms’.
Harry and Meghan are being urged to ask CBS to postpone the broadcast of their bombshell interview after the Duke of Edinburgh was moved to St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London because of ‘a pre-existing heart condition’ hours after a 30-second trailer of the Sussexes’ tell-all interview with their friend Oprah was released.
With Philip set to be in hospital for the rest of the week at least or even longer, royal experts and fans have suggested that Harry should step in and ask for a postponement ‘out of respect’.
Other royal experts have suggested that Prince Charles may have reassured his father about Harry and the continuing turmoil in the Royal Family caused by Megxit during a visit a week ago.
While Grace Armstrong-Jones tweeted: ‘I would hope, given his grandfather’s deteriorating health, that Harry would ask Oprah to postpone the broadcast of the interview. This is the last thing the Royal Family need with Prince Phillip so unwell’. Sandra Meier said: ‘Prince Philip is seriously ill. I hope CBS or Oprah will postpone or cancel Harry and Meghan’s interview’. Another wrote: ‘Out of respect to Prince Philip, they should postpone this fantasy drama fest’.
MailOnline has asked CBS to comment.