What’s a good made-for-TV moment if it doesn’t get the people talking? And talk they have, as Prince Harry, Meghan Markle and Oprah Winfrey sat down for a tell-all interview on Sunday.
The spectacle of the conversation, the couple’s first joint interview in years, has provoked a range of reactions – and that’s before it has even aired in some countries.
We scoured social media to see what people are saying about the big chat. Here’s what you need to know.
Living for the gossip
It goes without saying, but part of the appeal of the conversation was a favourite topic: royal gossip. Heck, the interview itself is gossip, a chance to clear the air after the couple stepped back as senior members of the royal family, and social media was alight over all the “tea” that was spilled.
Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan put things succinctly: “We’re going to need a longer show.”
Vulture writer Chris Murphy noted how people across his timeline were all astounded by the story.
“Ghana celebrated its independence from Britain yesterday. Harry and Meghan speak out on Oprah today. Feeling the anti-colonial ancestral energy this weekend. Abeg, let the the imperial tea be spilled!” wrote the Washington Post’s Karen Attiah.
“They’re surviving off of the money Diana left for Harry, “’I think she saw it coming,’” Ms Obell wrote, reflecting what many were thinking with one word: “WHEW.”
Thinking of Princess Diana
As the couple faces wave after wave of media scrutiny, comparisons to Harry’s mother, the late Princess Diana, also cropped up. During the conversation , Prince Harry said he long feared “history repeating itself”, with Meghan facing the same kind of ravenous press his mother did before she died in a car crash in 1997 while being pursued by paparazzi. Many online reflected on the country’s experience with Diana, and how those lessons applied today.
“I recall when Diana died, the princes were in isolation in Balmoral but they had to be dragged back to London so the British public could see the “boys public sadness” to satiate their need for some weird grief porn that was gripping the nation” wrote comedian Janey Godley
Others got behind the royal couple.
“As a Brit, I feel it’s important to say, many of us believe Meghan & Harry. We remember how Diana was treated. We know how The Firm operate. The ones who believe the media & The Firm, tend to be right wingers, racists & Brexiteers. Not all Brits,” wrote @JamesPrescott77.
The late princess was such a heavy presence throughout the interview one Twitter posted a video of a ghost from the animated classic Spirited Away chasing the Queen through the halls of Buckingham Palace.
Criticising the media
There seemed to be a general consensus that the press hadn’t quite gotten it right when covering the royals, allowing the hunger for tabloid drama to demoralise the people they were covering. One could see this dynamic in the enthusiastic reception to an old interview clip of Harry, talking about how nice it is to be away from the papers of England while completing his military service.
“I don’t want to sit around at Windsor,” Harry says in the clip, which has more than 350,000 views. “I just generally don’t like England that much, and it’s nice to be away from all the press and the papers and all the sh*** that they write.”
During the interview with Oprah, the royal couple revealed they would be having a baby girl, and some online said they were glad the Duke and Duchess had left the country so she wouldn’t have to grow up in front of UK tabloids, who Prince Harry described as having a dangerously intertwined relationship with the royal family.
“Not them having a little girl…” @Joymemo3 wrote, including a photo, fittingly, of a teary-eyed Oprah. “I’m glad they left because I can only imagine the scrutiny that she would face especially with the media.”
Why all the fuss?
For everyone feasting on the gossip or reflecting history, it seemed there were just as many online arguing that the whole affair was getting far too much attention.
With much of the world’s population still not vaccinated for Covid, many thought the media focus shouldn’t be on a pair of royal individuals, but the raging pandemic.
“This is exactly why this #HarryandMeghanonOprah interview is going to have the opposite effect that they intended Ordinary people just threw up in their mouths a little watching them tell their woe is me story, having $10 million and free mansions to live in during covid,” Twitter user @kayee9999 as the television special progressed.
“Is it just me but,” user @naniftrauts added, “in a Covid world where countries are struggling with vaccines, people are dying, economies in huge debt and people are losing their livelihoods, isn’t #HarryandMeghanonOprah just totally irrelevant indulgence on their part?”
But the criticisms weren’t just abstract: some went directly at the royal couple, and the crown at large, over the subject of the interview.
Writer Craig Stone noted that at the end of the day, despite all the Duke and Duchess have faced, they’re still extremely privileged outcasts from an extremely family.
“I look forward to watching a billionaire question two millionaires on how hard it’s been leaving billionaires, to continue being millionaires,” he wrote ahead of the show airing. “Thoughts & prayers to Harry and Meghan in this difficult time, as they adapt to new staff AND a new mansion.”
And some saw a note of hypocrisy in taking to the media to vent about the frustrations of living life in the spotlight of the media.
“Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah Winfrey is set to be the TV viewing appointment of the year – possibly the decade. This being the couple who fled the UK to enjoy a ‘quiet life’…” wrote @lacey_butcher
Numerous users thought more scrutiny should go towards Prince Andrew, over his alleged links with Jeffrey Epstein and the allegation of abuse against him, which he and the palace emphatically deny.
“Really not interested in this,” @Sctotsterahoy wrote. “Would like to see a trial though.”
Finally, there were those tired of the royals altogether, like @LisatheSimpson, who wrote, “I hope this marks the start of a nation questioning the institutions and norms it accepts as parts of British life. We should be ashamed we still have a monarchy, we should be ashamed that this couple were hounded out of the country.”