More than 12 million people watched the British broadcast of Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Meghan and Prince Harry on Monday night, the royal editor of the broadcaster ITV said. Chris Ship said ITV, which showed the two-hour interview a night after it broadcast in the United States, had drawn 12.3 million people at the peak of the programme while the whole show had an average of 11 million viewers.The interview attracted a 54% share of the television audience at the time.
Meanwhile, the British monarchy maintained its silence on Tuesday, after Meghan and Prince Harry accused a family member of making a racist remark about their son and said she had been alienated to the point of contemplating suicide. Oprah Winfrey’s tell-all TV interview with the couple has dragged the royals into the biggest crisis since the death of Harry’s mother Diana in 1997, when the family, led by Queen Elizabeth, was widely criticised for being too slow to respond.
In the two-hour show, originally aired on CBS on Sunday evening, Harry also said that his father, heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles, had let him down. Charles, while on a visit to a vaccine pop-up clinic at the Jesus House Church in London, was asked by a reporter what he thought of the interview. He stopped and looked up before turning and walking off without comment.
“Worst Royal Crisis in 85 Years,” read the front page of the Daily Mirror newspaper, while the Daily Mail’s cover asked “What Have They Done?”. The Sun columnist Trevor Kavanagh questioned if the interview meant the end for the royals. “It could hardly be more damaging to the royal family, not least because there is little it can do to defend itself,” The Times said in a lead article under the title “Royal Attack”.
“The key to the monarchy’s survival over the centuries has been its ability to adapt to the needs of the times. It needs to adapt again,” The Times said.
Elizabeth, who is 94 and has been on the throne for 69 years, wanted to take some time before the palace issued a response, a royal source said. Nearly three years since her star-studded wedding in Windsor Castle, Meghan gained sympathy in the United States by casting some unidentified members of the British royal family as uncaring, mendacious or guilty of racist remarks. She and Harry have also had a torrid relationship with the British press, and in particular tabloids who have been critical of the couple.
For the monarchy, which traces its history through 1,000 years of British and English history to William the Conqueror, Meghan’s bombshell has been compared to the crises over the death of Diana and the 1936 abdication of Edward VIII. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson watched the interview, his spokesman said on Tuesday, but would not be making any further comment on it.
Johnson said on Monday he had the highest admiration for the queen but that he did not want to speak about the interview. New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her nation was unlikely to stop having the queen as head of state soon.