Where to for the monarchy after tell-all

Explainer: Where to for the monarchy after Harry and Meghan's interview

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Some have said the fallout from the Oprah tell-all has been one of the biggest scandals to hit the Royals in decades. Picture: Getty Images

Some have said the fallout from the Oprah tell-all has been one of the biggest scandals to hit the Royals in decades. Picture: Getty Images

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Some have said the fallout from the Oprah tell-all has been one of the biggest scandals to hit the Royals in decades.

Aa

It's the interview that has got the world talking and intensified a family dispute across both sides of the Atlantic.

Since Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's sit-down with Oprah Winfrey went to air on Monday, Australian time, controversy has ensued for the Royal Family following multiple bombshell allegations made by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

Some have said the tell-all interview, viewed by millions around the globe, is the most damaging scandal to hit the royals since the 1936 abdication of Edward VIII.

So how did the situation get to this point, and what does it mean for the future of the monarchy in Australia?

What was said in the interview?

The two-hour interview provided many revelations about the split in the Royal Family along with Harry and Meghan's reasons for stepping away from royal duties.

Several claims of racism were levelled at senior royals, with Meghan revealing there were concerns within the family about how dark the skin would be of the couple's first child, Archie. When Meghan was asked if there were worries among the royals about Archie being "too brown", she said "if that is the assumption you are making, that is a pretty safe one".

Neither Harry or Meghan revealed which member of the royals raised the concerns, but in a subsequent interview on US morning TV, Oprah said it was not the Queen or Prince Phillip.

The Duchess of Sussex also revealed she had thought about suicide and that requests for help from the Royal Family were ignored. "They said there is nothing we can do for you, because you are not a paid member of the institution," Meghan said.

Meanwhile, Prince Harry said that the family had cut him off financially and that the pair were living on the inheritance from his mother Princess Diana. At one point, Prince Charles had stopped taking calls from Harry, but the father and son are now speaking again. It was also said the couple's 2018 tour of Australia marked a turning point in their relationship with the Royals.

The interview did contain some lighter revelations, including that they were secretly married three days before their 2018 ceremony, and that their second child will be a girl. The pair did say they still talk to the Queen and have "enormous respect" for the monarch.

How did the situation get to a tell-all interview?

The interview comes more than a year since Meghan and Harry announced they were stepping back from royal duties in January 2020.

Prince Harry said the decision, which caused considerable controversy at the time, was to protect both himself and his family from a "toxic" environment brought on by the British media and racism in tabloids.

Part of the decision to leave was also driven by the couple wanting to be financially independent and lead a more private life.

The pair's last official royal duties were in March 2020, before moving to live in California.

Buckingham Palace issued a statement in February this year saying Harry and Meghan would not be returning as working members of the royals, and that Harry would lose military appointments and charitable associations.

Part of the main reasons behind the split from the Royals has been both the treatment of the couple by other members of the family, along with the treatment from the British media, in particular the daily tabloids.

Many comparisons have been made between the treatment of Meghan by the UK media to that of Princess Diana before her death in 1997, although some have said there has been a racist element in the coverage of the Duchess of Sussex.

Meghan recently won a lawsuit against the publishers of The Daily Mail over a breach of privacy by publishing a letter she had written to her father following her wedding.

Last April, the couple said they would cut ties with the United Kingdom's four largest tabloids.

What has the Palace said?

Buckingham Palace was initially silent following the interview and did not release a statement for more than 24 hours. The Queen had stated she would not watch the Oprah interview, and instead released her own video message on the same day of the Oprah tell-all, coinciding with Commonwealth Day, stressing a theme of unity.

A statement from the Royal Family said they were saddened to learn the extent of how challenging recent years had been for the couple. "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," the statement said. "Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved family members."

How was the interview received?

More than 17 million viewed the interview on TV in the US and it was the number one show in the ratings when it aired in Australia on Monday night. As suspected, the interview made front-page headlines in the UK, many papers putting out special early editions. The response was mixed in the wake of the tell-all. While some have praised the couple for speaking candidly, others have claimed the interview did little but try to trash the name of the Royal Family.

Will the monarchy in Australia be affected?

Some have said the fallout from the interview, in particular the claims of racism by members of the family, is the biggest scandal to hit the Royals in decades.

In Australia, the interview has boosted calls to ditch the monarchy and opt for a republic. The Australian Republican Movement said the interview highlighted "the ridiculousness of having a foreign monarch as Australia's head of state".

The popular view is that any change to being tied to the monarchy would come following the death of the Queen. The most recent attempt to formally become a republic in Australia was in 1999, which failed in a national referendum. The interview has also led to a renewed boost for the republican movement in the UK.

However, national chair of the Australian Monarchist League Philip Benwell said Meghan and Harry should not have used their high-profile status to denigrate the Queen and other royals. "The Duke and Duchess of Sussex should at all times consider the position of Her Majesty before they give any public interviews," he said.

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