Two YouTubers say not to believe everything you hear about the Sussexes. In a viral YouTube video, the creators claim to have proved that royal experts lie about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, arguing that such commentators are regularly "influencing public opinion." The YouTube duo, Josh Pieters and Archie Manners, who are known for their social experiments, solicited opinions from four royal commentators ahead of the premiere of the Sussexes' interview with Oprah Winfrey, and each appeared eager to comment on the conversation despite not yet having seen it.
Participating in the viral video were Dickie Arbiter, the queen's former press secretary; Majesty magazine Editor-in-Chief Ingrid Seward; and royal commentators Richard Fitzwilliams and Victoria Arbiter. The four were told their comments would be published after the Oprah With Meghan and Harry special aired in the United Kingdom on Monday, March 8, and they appeared to confidently answer questions about the sit-down, often providing harsh opinions about Meghan.
"In the interview, to my mind, this was an actress giving one of her great performances," Seward told Pieters and Manners. "From start to finish, Meghan was acting." The Majesty editor-in-chief went on to add that Oprah went too easy on the couple, stating, "It was an iron fist in a velvet glove."
Fitzwilliams also claimed it was "not a balanced interview." The commentator argued that "Oprah is a friend who gave them an easy ride," adding that the host was too sympathetic and "there was a great deal in it that the palace will find deeply concerning."
While several royal commentators seemed to target the Duchess of Sussex specifically, Pieters denied the prank video was meant to comment on the racism directed at Meghan by the British tabloids. The YouTuber said the duo were inspired instead by the media frenzy around the royals and wanted to show "people are willing to say things that aren't necessarily true," according to an interview with Insider.
"It was purely to experiment whether people would talk about something that hadn't happened yet in a sector that they are meant to be experts in," Pieters said. "We gave them facts, which weren't facts, and they spoke about them as facts."
Dickie Arbiter and Fitzwilliams have each defended their comments, with Arbiter's management telling The Independent that Pieters and Manners' request was "deliberately misleading and a 'scam.'" Meanwhile, Fitzwilliams claimed in a tweet that it he'd been "hit with a sting." Both insisted they were only commenting on footage that was released in previews. "Now I realise why I was asked to put 'in the interview' in every sentence," Fitzwilliams added via Twitter. (Bustle reached out to Seward and Victoria Arbiter but did not receive a response at the time of publishing.)
In a statement to Insider, Fitzwilliams also said pre-recorded interviews are common for breaking news stories and "there is nothing whatever dishonorable in it." He argued his comments were based on the trailer and hype, reiterating that he believes the interview will "be pretty toxic and define Harry and Meghan's relationship with the royal family for the foreseeable future."
Oprah With Meghan and Harry: A CBS Primetime Special will air on Sunday, March 7 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.