Truth, we are told, is central to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Indeed, it was supposedly the desire for truth that drove them to give that explosive interview to Oprah Winfrey, broadcast just over two weeks ago.
‘How do you feel about the Palace hearing you speak your truth today?’ asked Oprah.
‘I don’t know how they could expect that, after all of this time, we would still just be silent if there is an active role that The Firm is playing in perpetuating falsehoods about us,’ replied Meghan, casually dropping the first of many bombshells.
It was supposedly the desire for truth that drove Harry and Meghan to give that explosive interview to Oprah Winfrey
It was quite a moment. Oprah nodded in solemn agreement as the nation took a sharp intake of breath.
As the interview progressed, Meghan’s ‘truth’ was broadcast to millions, unchallenged and uncompromising.
The Royal Family is a dysfunctional organisation; the royals were racist; the Duchess of Cambridge made Meghan cry. No one was spared.
She, by contrast, was just a naive young woman who had fallen in love with a handsome prince and found herself in over her head, attacked from all quarters.
She even compared herself to the Little Mermaid, a wide-eyed innocent adrift in an ocean of monsters. Oh, the pain. Oh, the agony. Oh, the injustice of it all. Oh, just leave my oat-milk latte over there, will you?
This was their truth, as told to Oprah, and many viewers — though far from all — lapped it up. Well, most of it anyway. Except as it turns out, not all of Harry and Meghan’s truth was the actual truth — more like their own, somewhat Disneyfied, version of it.
Yesterday, after days of speculation, the couple finally admitted that, in one respect at least, they’d got their facts wrong. Despite what they told Oprah, they were not, after all, married three days before the royal wedding, on May 19, 2018, by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Despite what they told Oprah, the couple were not, after all, married three days before the royal wedding, on May 19, 2018, by the Archbishop of Canterbury
That particular nugget was one of the more startling revelations in the interview, a much-trumpeted ‘exclusive’, delivered with all the emotion that only a seasoned actress like Meghan can muster.
‘You know, three days before our wedding, we got married. No one knows that,’ she gushed coyly.
‘We called the Archbishop [as you do] and we just said: “Look, this spectacle is for the world. But we want our union between us.” So, like, the vows that we have framed in our room are just the two of us in our backyard with the Archbishop of Canterbury.’
How romantic, how touching. No doubt that was the point of telling the story. Except the Archbishop didn’t marry them. By all accounts he administered a blessing; but it was not their wedding.
In other words, what Meghan said was — by her own admission — not accurate.
This then joins another misleading claim in the interview — that the Royal Family had somehow contrived to stop baby Archie being a prince.
The rules are crystal clear: under protocols established by George V, a great-grandson of a sovereign has no right to such a title. And if there is one thing the Windsors like to adhere to, it’s protocols.
By all accounts the Archbishop of Canterbury administered a blessing but it was not their wedding
No doubt fans of Meghan — and they are legion, including the President of the United States himself — will dismiss such points as minor misunderstandings. But even so, it presents us with a problem.
If she is wrong about the wedding, then what else is she wrong about? How do we know that when she speaks her truth, it is the actual fact of the matter rather than her, or Harry’s, Hollywood-tinted interpretation?
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Until now, it has been almost sacrilege to question many (any!) of their more damning assertions without risking the wrath of the couple and their supporters.
Indeed, to do so runs the risk of being ‘cancelled’ by Meghan’s self-appointed army of powerful players in the world of media and politics, as Piers Morgan discovered when he left his job on Good Morning Britain after daring to say he ‘didn’t believe’ Meghan’s side of the story.
But now we know she got the wrong end of the stick about events involving the Archbishop and her ‘backyard’, surely it is not unreasonable to wonder what else she may have misremembered?
And it matters because so many of the things said in that interview were so incredibly damaging. I’m thinking in particular about the allegation that ‘concerns’ were expressed by a senior royal about the colour of Archie’s skin.
In the febrile aftermath of the interview, when feelings were running high on both sides of the Atlantic, the Queen issued a statement saying that while she did not underestimate the seriousness of the issues raised, ‘recollections may vary’.
We see now that Meghan’s recollections do vary from the actualité in respect of the wedding; might the same also apply to other events mentioned in the interview?
The more you scrutinise this interview, and the claims made in it, the more holes start to appear. And the worse it starts to look for Harry and Meghan
Prince William, for example, has now vehemently denied via friends his brother’s incendiary assertion that he and Prince Charles find themselves ‘trapped’ in their roles, as well as stating in public with ill-concealed fury that the royals are ‘very much not a racist family’.
The more you scrutinise this interview, and the claims made in it, the more holes start to appear. And the worse it starts to look for Harry and Meghan.
Because if you are going to accuse people of doing terrible things — as they have done — you have to make sure you are on solid ground. The moment you allow yourself to embellish things, or attempt to cast the facts in a different light, you undermine your case. You become your own unreliable witness, and no one knows what to believe any more.
The fact is that these are two of the most judgmental people on the planet. They are relentless in their criticism of those they consider to be in the wrong. Which is, in some ways, commendable.
But the problem with pitching your tent so firmly on the moral high ground is that you risk it being blown away because it’s so exposed up there.
Perhaps they just couldn’t give a fig. These two are so wrapped up in their cloak of righteousness it probably won’t even register that what they have done is so deeply damaging.
And besides, their concern now is surely their profile in America. Who cares what the peasants back home think?
Now that their chief-of-staff has stepped away from her role after less than a year, they have teamed up with a top producer to work on their lucrative projects with Netflix and Spotify.
Meanwhile, in what many consider to be a nod to Meghan’s future political ambitions, they have forged new links with an organisation called Invisible Hand whose founder, Genevieve Roth, worked on Hillary Clinton’s (unsuccessful) 2016 presidential election campaign.
Harry even announced yesterday that he’s got himself a job — working as ‘Chief Impact Officer’ for BetterUp, a company specialising in professional coaching, counselling and mentoring.
But while all these moves may be seen as positive — or should that be ’empowering’ — in the U.S., in the UK the interview has done untold damage to their reputation. Harry’s personal popularity rating has plummeted, while 58 per cent of people now view Meghan in a negative light. A majority in one survey said they should have their royal titles removed.
However much Harry may be enjoying his new Californian lifestyle — he was recently doing his bit for the planet cycling around sunny Montecito (albeit dogged by a 4×4 bristling with bodyguards) — the truth is that while he remains a Prince and an HRH (a title Meghan also continues to hold, despite her clear disdain for ‘The Firm’), Britain is his home.
Whatever version of events he may have manufactured for himself to justify leaving, however little he may value some things we hold so dear, that will never change.
That is his truth, however inconvenient it may be. Even if it’s not Meghan’s.