Oprah interview begins with bombshell revelations from Meghan

Oprah With Meghan And Harry: A Cbs Primetime Special
UNSPECIFIED - UNSPECIFIED: In this handout image provided by Harpo Productions and released on March 5, 2021, Oprah Winfrey interviews Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on A CBS Primetime Special premiering on CBS on March 7, 2021. (Photo by Harpo Productions/Joe Pugliese via Getty Images)

(CNN) — Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, said in a bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey that life as a member of the British royal family was lonely and suffocating under the image-obsessed Buckingham Palace.

Speaking in her first interview since she and her husband Prince Harry announced in early 2020 their plans to step back from senior roles in the British royal family, Meghan said she believed there “was no way to understand what the day-to-day was going to be like” and went into her marriage naively.

During the first blocks of the conversation, aired in primetime television in the United States and relentlessly promoted by CBS, Meghan said she felt she was victim of a “character assassination” in the British media and the machinations of a centuries-old institution that valued how it is perceived more than the well-being of the royal family.

“They were willing to lie to protect other members of the family, but they weren’t willing to lie to protect me and my husband,” she said.

Meghan specifically complained of how lonely and isolated life became after her marriage. She said she wasn’t even allowed to go out for lunch with friends at times because she was too heavily covered in the media.

“I am everywhere but I am nowhere,” Meghan added. “Everyone was concerned with optics.”

The Duchess of Sussex said had been welcomed into the family itself — but the family members were different from “the people running the institution.”

She said Queen Elizabeth II, Harry’s grandmother, had always been wonderful, warm and welcoming.

The interview began with several stunning revelations about Meghan and Harry’s private life, including that the two were married three days before their official wedding. Meghan also discussed rumors of a dispute with Kate, the wife of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge.

Meghan said reports she made Kate cry over the dresses of flower girl were untrue, and was in fact the Duchess of Sussex who cried.

“There was no confrontation,” Meghan said.

She declined to discuss the incident further because Kate apologized to her.

“I don’t think it’s fair to her to get into the details of that,” Meghan said.

The interview with Oprah was highly anticipated because Harry and Meghan are allowed to speak more freely about the royal family since their effective split from the palace.

Millions of television viewers around the world were in a state of frenzied anticipation ahead of the interview.

“It’s really liberating to be able to have the right and the privilege in some ways to be able to say yes” to the interview, Meghan said in a preview, discussing the constraints on her talking to the media while a working royal. “I mean… I’m ready to talk.”

Though Harry and Meghan announced their decision months ago, their split from the Windsors was effectively formalized last month when they agreed with the palace that they would not return as working members of the royal family. The couple said they will remain committed to “a life of service,” but the move fueled talk of a rift between the couple — now settled in California and expecting their second child — and the British royal family.

The agreement allows Harry, who is still sixth in line to the British throne, and Meghan to both keep their royal titles bestowed on them by the Queen. But Harry and Meghan will give up their royal patronages, which are to be redistributed among working members of the royal family.

Harry recently told late-night talk show host James Corden that he and his wife’s decision was driven in part by a desire for greater privacy from the British press, whose “toxic” coverage was destroying the Prince’s mental health.

The TV special falls at an already fraught time for the royals, with Prince Philip, the Queen’s 99-year-old husband, spending a third week in hospital, after undergoing a heart procedure Thursday.

The royals are likely aware of the probable impact the televised spectacle could have on the public. The palace encounters a bombshell TV tell-all roughly once a generation — a 1970 interview with the abdicated King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson posed problems for the Palace, 25 years before Princess Diana’s “Panorama” confessional was watched by tens of millions in Britain.

The interview has sparked something of a public relations battle between the Sussexes and allies of Buckingham Palace. On Tuesday, following the release of promotional clips released in advance of the interview, The Times of London published an article that alleged Meghan bullied several staff members. The story cited unnamed royal aides saying a complaint in 2018 claiming the Duchess drove out two personal assistants from her Kensington Palace household and undermined the confidence of a third staff member. CNN has been unable to corroborate the claims.

The sources said they approached The Times because they felt the version of Meghan that had publicly emerged was only partially true, and they were concerned about how matters of bullying had been dealt with. The report said the sources believed the public “should have insight into their side of the story” ahead of the couple’s interview with Winfrey.

Buckingham Palace said it was “very concerned” about the allegations outlined in the report and would investigate. A spokesperson for the Sussexes dismissed the Times report as “a calculated smear campaign” ahead of the interview.

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