Harry and Meghan's Oprah interview: How the UK's newspapers reacted

9 March 2021, 06:41 | Updated: 9 March 2021, 15:21

Britain's newspapers have responded to Harry and Meghan's incredible interview with Oprah Winfrey
Britain's newspapers have responded to Harry and Meghan's incredible interview with Oprah Winfrey. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Fallout from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's Oprah Winfrey interview has dominated the front pages of Britain's newspapers on Tuesday morning.

Harry and Meghan's near two-hour chat with the American talk show host was first broadcast in the US in the early hours of Monday and on British TV on Monday evening.

During the interview, the Sussexes made a string of stunning revelations and allegations that covered mental health struggles, their wedding and their relationship with the Royal Family.

But in a move that angered some members of the British media, Harry said racism published by the tabloid press - that filtered into the rest of society - was a "large part" of why the couple left the UK.

He branded the tabloids as "bigoted", adding that they create a "toxic environment" of "control and fear".

The Society of Editors hit back on Monday, saying the country's media is not bigoted and is instead holding the "rich and powerful to account".

So what are the papers saying this morning? And how did the tabloids react to Harry and Meghan's Oprah interview?

Read more: Palace silent after Harry and Meghan's interview airs in UK

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The Daily Telegraph

In a front-page opinion piece, Telegraph columnist Allison Pearson says the interview represented a "devastating insult" to the Queen which would not only affect the Royal Family but could destabilise the Commonwealth.

She wrote: "Above all, many of us will have felt the insult to the Queen. However loudly Harry and Meghan may have proclaimed their affection for the monarch, there is no question that their interview was a devastating act of lese-majeste.

"The couple unleashed demons which could destabilise her beloved Commonwealth and threaten the future of the monarchy itself.

"Harry once reportedly said: What Meghan wants Meghan gets. But is this really what she wanted?"

Describing a "weird, reeling ride of an interview", Ms Pearson said its timing - with Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh in hospital - made it look "vengeful, self-absorbed and attention-seeking".

She also chided the couple for highlighting their son would not be called a prince, saying this was in line with royal protocol but "Meghan and Harry can spot a personal slight from outer space".

Read more: Thomas Markle dismisses suggestion Royals or Brits are racist

Read more: Meghan tells Oprah: 'I just didn't want to be alive anymore'

The Daily Mail

Following a similar theme, The Mail carries the pointed headline: "What have they done?"

The paper's royal editor, Rebecca English, said the "bombshell" interview left Buckingham Palace "paralysed with horror and dismay".

She added: "The Queen, Prince Charles and Prince William were all locked in crisis talks over how to react to a string of incendiary accusations unleashed by Harry and wife Meghan during (the) two-hour special".

The Daily Express

Meanwhile, Daily Express columnist Stephen Pollard criticised the Sussexes for electing to air their grievances on "prime time TV".

He compared the interview with the Queen's earlier Commonwealth address, writing: "Meghan and Harry took to the airwaves for a two-hour long interview in which they spoke about themselves, their feelings and their wishes to the exclusion of all else."

It ran with a headline which read: "So sad it has come to this."

Read more: Sussexes 'got married three days before public ceremony'

Watch: James O'Brien says those who dislike Meghan 'don't know why'

The Guardian

A number of other papers chose to focus on the impact of Meghan's racism claims, which The Guardian called "devastating".

It focused on Meghan being "silenced" as she had suicidal thoughts and Harry saying he felt "let down" by Charles after the couple were cut off financially.

The Times

A leading article in The Times said the racism allegation "could hardly be more damaging to the Royal Family".

It read: "The implication that the monarchy is racist could hardly be more damaging to an institution that relies for its legitimacy on its claim to represent the whole of modern Britain.

"The problem for the Royal Family is that there is little they could say by way of explanation or mitigation that would not risk making the situation worse."

The Sun

Tabloid paper The Sun dedicated its front page to demanding the identity of the unnamed senior royal who allegedly made a racist comment about the Sussexes' then-unborn son be revealed.

An editorial in the paper asked: "Did they keep this incendiary charge vague and anonymous to make it impossible to counter?

"In doing so they have smeared Harry's entire family. Exonerating the Queen and Philip merely amplifies the injustice to the others."

If you are affected by any of the above and need emotional support then contact the Samaritans helpline 24 hours a day on 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org, visit a Samaritans branch or visit their website.