Prince Harry and his wife Meghan’s explosive tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey went much further than expected and will be hugely damaging to the royal family, British media said Monday.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, as they are formally known, delivered “enough bombshells to sink a flotilla”, reported The Daily Telegraph, as the dust settled on the broadcast on Sunday night.
“And possibly, some might fear, do similar damage to the British monarchy,” it added.
“Whatever the royal family was expecting from this interview, this was worse,” another traditionally “establishment” newspaper, The Times, said.
“We were clearly expecting something pretty dramatic. I think it exceeded those expectations,” royal expert Robert Hardman told AFP.
Tabloid newspapers filled their front pages with screaming headlines quoting Meghan: ‘How dark will baby’s skin be?’ wrote The Daily Mail.
The Sun went with: ‘I felt suicidal.’
While the CBS interview was not broadcast in the UK, discussion dominated social media from the early hours.
Chris Ship, the royal editor of ITV, which is to air the interview in Britain on Monday night, said he was “momentarily paralysed” by the sheer volume of revelations.
“The couple had effectively loaded up a B-52 bomber, flew it over Buckingham Palace and then unloaded their arsenal right above it, bomb by heavily-loaded bomb,” he added.
Buckingham Palace now faced “two very serious questions” — first, Meghan’s claim of racist comments about her baby’s potential skin colour, and that she received no support while having suicidal thoughts.
Queen Elizabeth II was the only member of the royal family to “emerge unscathed,” wrote The Daily Telegraph.
Yet Ship said since the couple voice such grave concerns about the family, “surely their severe criticisms of it extend to the Queen herself?”
The interview eclipsed recent royal scandals, journalists and commentators said.
“We have never heard anything like this in any previous royal interview,” Roya Nikkhah, royal correspondent for The Sunday Times, told BBC television.
Daily Mirror associate editor Kevin Maguire said it was a “bigger crisis” for a royal family “struggling for relevance” than the divorce of Harry’s mother Diana from Prince Charles, or an affair by Prince Andrew’s ex-wife Sarah.
Harry and Meghan used the show to set out a “new narrative”, The Times reported. Yet there was also criticism of the couple for giving the interview.
The Daily Mail, which has been highly critical of Meghan, quoted royal expert Robert Jobson as saying that the couple were “self-obsessed”.
And he called their interview at times “terribly self-indulgent”.
Several media outlets questioned the specifics, including Meghan’s suggestion that the royal family changed their rules to refuse their son Archie the title of “prince” because of his skin colour.
“This is a complex area – there are rules laid down that Archie would not be a prince at birth, but would be a prince when Charles (Harry’s father) becomes king,” wrote The Times.
Archie could have taken a title, the Earl of Dumbarton, but his parents chose for him not to use it, said Hardman, a royal reporter for the Daily Mail.
Meanwhile the decision to stop providing security to the couple, one of Harry’s main grievances, “isn’t really a matter for the royal family” but “one for the police,” Hardman said.
Overseas, The Australian newspaper wrote that the royal family’s dispute had “gone nuclear”.
But its Europe correspondent Jacquelin Magnay said the couple were trying to “destroy the institution which provides them with a lucrative platform,” as they have struck deals with streaming giants Netflix and Spotify.
The New York Post called Meghan a “perpetual victim”, accusing her of exaggerating the royals’ hostility to the couple’s relationship.
“The British taxpayers spent millions on Harry and Meghan’s wedding. Prince Charles walked her down the aisle… People were rooting for them,” it said.
The Sun, The Times, The Sunday Times, The Australian and the New York Post are all part of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp global media empire.
Meghan and Harry have also taken legal action against the publishers of the Daily Mail, The Sun and the Daily Mirror.
Buckingham Palace has not commented — and it is not immediately clear whether they will.
The interview is so damaging that the palace should be “very methodical” in responding to “each and every claim,” said Nikkhah.
The royal family will continue their ordinary routine despite the scandal, said Hardman.
“I think they’ll just get on with it.”