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Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's explosive Oprah interview: The biggest revelations

The queen and now Prince William have reacted to the shocking interview that still has two nations buzzing.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Expertise Breaking news, entertainment, lifestyle, travel, food, shopping and deals, product reviews, money and finance, video games, pets, history, books, technology history, and generational studies Credentials
  • Co-author of two Gen X pop-culture encyclopedia for Penguin Books. Won "Headline Writer of the Year"​ award for 2017, 2014 and 2013 from the American Copy Editors Society. Won first place in headline writing from the 2013 Society for Features Journalism.
Gael Cooper
8 min read

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's interview with Oprah has created massive buzz. 


The fallout continues from Sunday night's blockbuster TV special in which Oprah Winfrey interviewed Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex.  Among other headline-making revelations, American-born Meghan Markle told the talk show queen that palace representatives were concerned about her unborn son's skin color and didn't offer help when royal pressures drove her to thoughts of suicide. Since then, Queen Elizabeth II has issued a gentle, queenly, noncommittal statement, and Harry's brother, William, has denied publicly that the royal family is racist.

Here are the main takeaways from the much-anticipated televised interview on CBS. 

Baby Archie's skin color

Meghan, now pregnant with the couple's second child, revealed that at least one person in the palace expressed concerns about the skin color of the Sussexes' first child, son Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, who was born in 2019. She did not name that person. 
"There were also concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he was born," Meghan said.

Tweeted ITV royal editor Chris Ship, "This is very strong and the Palace will face serious questions."  

When Prince Harry joined the interview after Oprah first talked with Meghan alone, Winfrey asked him if he'd reveal the name of the person who made comments about skin color. He said he never would. But Winfrey did clarify it wasn't the queen or her husband, Prince Philip.

Meghan's suicidal thoughts

Harry's mother, the beloved Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales, spoke to biographer Andrew Morton about her episodes of self-harm and suicidal thoughts due to the monumental pressure of marrying in to the royal family. Harry's wife, decades later, shared that she'd had suicidal thoughts.

"I just didn't want to be alive anymore," the duchess told Oprah during the interview, calling the suicidal thoughts "constant," and saying she "thought it would solve everything for everyone."

In a chilling detail, she revealed that she went to the human resources department at the palace (yes, they have one), and was told she wasn't an employee and couldn't be helped.

Royal baby gender reveal

The royal couple revealed they're expecting a girl. She will be eighth in line to the throne, following her brother, Archie, and will bump Prince Andrew down a notch.

The couple said they will not have more children, but if they were to have a son after this daughter, he would not leapfrog his sister in the line of succession. That wasn't always true. Princess Anne is the second of the queen's children, but her two younger brothers, Andrew and Edward, are higher in the line than she is. But the 2013 Succession to the Crown Act changed that sexist rule. Now Princess Charlotte, Prince William's second child, keeps her place in line even though a boy, her brother Prince Louis, arrived later.

Cut off financially

Money has never been a problem for the royals, but in the interview, Harry said the royal family has "literally cut me off financially."

It's not like the couple will be poor, ever. Harry inherited millions from his mother, who died in a Paris car wreck in 1997. Meghan has her own money from her Hollywood acting career. And the royal couple has signed big deals with Netflix and Spotify. 

But considering the number of less important royals who collect money, and the riches Harry's father, Prince Charles, pulls in from the Duchy of Cornwall, this feels like a shocker. Harry said the couple would not have had the money to relocate to California without his inheritance from Diana.

Loss of royal protection

Like other heads of state, the royal family has always had bodyguards, and there have been times when they have needed them. Princess Anne was almost kidnapped in 1974, an intruder broke into the queen's bedroom in 1982, and a man fired blanks at the queen as she rode in the Trooping of the Color ceremony in 1981.

So it was startling to hear that the royal family cut off Harry and Meghan's security detail when the couple moved to Canada and then California. Meghan especially was the target of death threats, some based on her race, she told Winfrey, yet that didn't change the palace's decision. 

Stepping up to help? Hollywood director Tyler Perry, who offered the royal couple use of his California home and security.

Kate made Meghan cry

Meghan and Harry and Prince William and his wife, Catherine, were the Fab Four of British royalty for a while, much as Charles and Diana and Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson briefly were in the 1980s. Since the Sussexes went their own way, there have been plenty of rumors about issues between the brothers and their wives.

Meghan addressed one of the major rumors in the interview. The tabloids reported that Meghan made Kate cry before Meghan and Harry's wedding due to a fight about Princess Charlotte's flower-girl dress. Sunday night, however, Meghan said it was the other way around -- that Kate made Meghan cry about the outfit.

Meghan said Kate later apologized and sent her flowers: "She was upset about something, and she owned it."

But when the tabloids put the blame on Meghan instead, Meghan said the royal family didn't correct the record, something Meghan called a "turning point" in her relationship with the royals.

They got married early

Meghan told Winfrey that she and Harry actually married three days before the televised ceremony watched by millions. The Archbishop of Canterbury performed that ceremony in their backyard, she said.

"No one knows that," she told Winfrey. "We called the Archbishop and we said 'Look, this thing, this spectacle is for the world, but we want our union between us.'"

She also surprised many by saying that she didn't do any online research on Harry when they began dating, and that she didn't grow up following the royal family or knowing much about them.

Second-day revelations

Winfrey joined her BFF, Gayle King, plus Anthony Mason and Tony Dokoupil, on CBS This Morning on Monday to discuss the interview, and shared some clips that didn't make it in to Sunday's special.

Winfrey said she had more than three hours of interview footage that she had to cut down to less than two hours (including commercials). She said she hadn't really talked to Meghan and Harry about the reaction to the show, except that Meghan had texted her while the show was airing on the East Coast to feel her out about how things were going, since the duchess was only able to watch on West Coast time.

She said neither Harry nor Meghan revealed, even to her, who the royal family member was that discussed baby Archie's skin tone with Harry before the baby was born.

In the unseen footage, Markle discusses troubles with her father, Thomas, and half-sister, Samantha. Although Samantha Markle recently came out with a tell-all book about Meghan, the duchess says she hasn't seen her half-sister in nearly 20 years, and that the two did not grow up together.

Even before the interview finished airing, British tabloids were splashing the details all over their websites. The Daily Mail had about a dozen stories live before the interview had started to air on the US West Coast.

How can I rewatch the interview?

Missed it and want to know what all the fuss is about? You can rewatch the whole interview on cbs.com or by downloading the CBS app (download here for iOS, here for Android). Just click on Oprah With Meghan and Harry to see the entire special.

Prefer regular broadcast TV? CBS is also re-airing it Friday night, March 12, from 8-10 p.m. PT/ET. 

Why is this interview such a big deal?

Markle has made an insane number of headlines for pretty much everything she does, from an apparent feud with her father Thomas (who didn't attend the wedding), to her biracial background and American citizenship, to her writing positive messages on bananas for sex workers. Her latest controversy involves reports that she bullied royal staffers. She's "saddened by this latest attack on her character," the BBC reports.

You may have heard that Meghan and Harry moved first to Canada, then to California in 2020. In February 2021, after a year trial, Buckingham Palace announced the couple would not return as working members of the royal family, though they would remain "much loved." 

Meghan and Harry now live in the Santa Barbara, California, area now, as does Winfrey, so this pairing of famous names was as natural as tea and crumpets, or burgers and fries, if you prefer. Winfrey has been a friend of the couple for some time, even attending their wedding. While not normal for royal family members to seek out this kind of public interview, Meghan and Harry have been making their own way for some time.

There is precedent for public airing of royal grievances. Harry's mother, Diana, sat down for a shocking televised interview in 1995, where she openly discussed Prince Charles cheating on her with Camilla Parker-Bowles, his current wife.

Ratings bonanza

To probably no one's surprise, the interview was a ratings hit. The special was watched by 17.1 million viewers, CBS said in a statement. That's the largest primetime audience for any entertainment special since the 2020 Academy Awards.

The interview drove 12 billion -- yes, with a "B" -- potential social media impressions in one night, setting the hashtags #OprahMeghanHarry, #Archie, #Kate, #Charles, #Diana, #William and #Royal all trending. And it pushed the CBS app to the top spot in Apple's App Store.

The royal reaction

It isn't like Queen Elizabeth II to comment on such a breach of royal protocol. But on the Tuesday after the interview, she did in fact issue a statement.

"The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan," the brief statement begins. "The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning. While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately. Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved family members."

And on Thursday, Prince William, Harry's brother, lightly touched on the interview while visiting a London school with his wife.

Willian said he had not yet spoken to Harry, but would soon, and when asked flat-out if the royal family was racist, said, "No, we are not a racist family." 

The British tabloid press, never exactly a model of quiet regal decorum, has taken this interview to an even crazier level. According to author Edwin Hayward, "50 -- yes, 50 -- articles attacking Meghan Markle were published on the Express website on Saturday, the day before the interview aired in the US. That's *50* articles in *24* hours." It aired in the UK on Monday.

Other publications published almost as many, Hayward reported.

And one tabloid, the Star, published a do-it-yourself barf bag for those who were so disgusted by the interview they needed to throw up. 

"It's almost impossible to understand why Harry and Meghan would want to leave this very normal country..." tweeted writer Bella Mackie.

Meghan bluntly discusses her suicidal thoughts in the special. If you're struggling with negative thoughts, self-harm or suicidal feelings, here are 13 suicide and crisis intervention hotlines you can use to get help.

You can also call these numbers:

US: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255
UK: The Samaritans can be reached at 116 123. 
AU: Lifeline can be reached at 13 11 14.