On March 7, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry sat down with Oprah Winfrey for an in-depth interview on CBS about their unfair treatment by the British tabloids and lack of protection from the royal family. The couple spoke about how it all led to the decision to step away from their royal duties, which Meghan revealed was also influenced by the racism directed towards their son, Archie, prior to his birth and the mental health struggles she endured. The royal family has remained mostly silent following the interview, but many members have been quite active online for March 8's Commonwealth Day, which has prompted many Meghan and Harry supporters and critics of the monarchy to flood the official accounts with their takes.
Ahead of the interview, Buckingham Palace stated that Meghan & Harry "are no longer working members of the royal family and therefore any decisions they take with regard to media commitments are matters for them. As non-working MRF they are under no obligation to inform the Royal Household of such plans." While no royal family members have issued official comments on the interview, Us Weekly spoke to sources close to the royals in order to gather their opinions.
Apparently, William and Kate are "appalled" by the interview. "It's just beyond the pale for William and Kate, especially in light of the dreadful timing with [Prince] Philip in the hospital. They are utterly aghast," dished the source before the interview actually aired. Us Weekly also reported that William and his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, are "furious" about the sit-down chat with Winfrey. The two reportedly "feel that by sharing [Harry and Meghan’s] side of the story, the entire royal family will be painted in an unfair way." However, during the Oprah interview, Meghan and Harry emphasized that they maintain a friendly relationship with the Queen.
Instead of delivering firsthand comments on the televised conversation, the rest of the royal family is carrying on with business as usual, especially regarding Commonwealth Day celebrations. On March 8, the official royal family Twitter account tweeted out a written message from the Queen that recognizes the Commonwealth's "friendship" and "spirit of unity" amid the difficulties caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Expressing her appreciation for citizens' cooperation, the Queen's reply section was met with support — as well as a flurry of criticism following the Oprah interview.
"Why did the royal family deny a woman’s request to have support for their mental health concerns?" asked one Twitter user in the replies of the royal family's post. Another wrote, "Read the room - you have some explanations and changing to do. The Monarch should be ashamed of itself." However, others fired back in support of the Commonwealth Day celebrations. "Commonwealth Day has been around for decades... not scheduled like an interview," tweeted another user.
An official Twitter account dedicated to The Commonwealth also posted the Queen's letter and was similarly met with criticism. "This old racist institution needs to disappear, it’s surprising the English foot the bill of a family that doesn’t appear to condemn wrongdoings," one Twitter user replied. In reference to the Queen's acknowledgment of the nation's health in the letter, another wrote, "Y’all talk a lot about mental health for having thrown a suicidal member of your family to the wolves."
The official royal family Instagram account similarly encountered waves of criticism in its comment section. “The commonwealth [is] full of BLACK and BROWN people,” wrote one user, referencing the racism Meghan and Harry experienced during their time performing royal duties and continue to face now. Another user also acknowledged race, writing, “I don’t think it’s the Queen to blame for the royal family racism. But I think that once she is no longer Queen, lots of African countries might need to rethink their ties with the British Crown.”
When it came to Prince Charles and Camila Parker Bowles’ official Twitter account, many called upon Charles to reveal if he had returned Harry’s phone calls and outright suggested, “You should call your son.” One user shared a viral tweet that stated, “Damn a nearly 30 year campaign to rehab charles’s reputation blown up in an hour,” and another wrote, “He is your son. Above all else, he is YOUR SON! Grow up and fix your mess. This is not why I am proud to be a member of the commonwealth.”
Below, read more reactions to the royal family’s Commonwealth Day posts on social media:
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741. You can also reach out to the Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860 or the Trevor Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386, or to your local suicide crisis center.