Accusations of “lies” against the British monarchy, investigation of possible suspicions of harassment of the other: the crisis escalates between the “Sussex” and the rest of the British royal family before the broadcast of an interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle which promises to be corrosive.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex had not hidden their discomfort within the institution at the time of their withdrawal which had sounded like a thunderclap last year.
But the announcement of the broadcast next Sunday of their first major interview since their departure for California, given to the queen of confessions Oprah Winfrey, made the British press tremble, ruthless for Meghan, and turned into an unparalleled public crisis. since the time of Princess Diana.
Even before the broadcast on Sunday, an extract unveiled Wednesday evening by the CBS channel set the tone.
Asked what she imagines the royal palace to think of her speeches, the 39-year-old ex-American actress replied: “I don’t know how they could expect that after all this time, we can just keep silent, if the Firm is playing an active role in peddling lies about us, “using the moniker of the British crown.
“And if that comes with the risk of losing something (…), a lot has already been lost,” she added.
These comments made the British press jump, which also evokes Thursday the unprecedented investigation announced by Buckingham Palace, a few hours before the release of the extract, on accusations of harassment against assistants targeting Meghan Markle, when she was still alive within the royal family.
The palace said it was “very concerned” in a statement unusual for the British monarchy, little used to discussing its differences in the public square.
According to the British daily The Times, which unveiled these accusations, Meghan Markle would have been the subject of a complaint for harassment, addressed in October 2018 to the palace by Jason Knauf, then the couple’s communication secretary, but remained without follow-up.
“A totally false story”
Meghan Markle reacted to The Times information via a spokesperson that the Duchess of Sussex is “saddened by this latest attack on her person, especially as someone who has been harassed herself and is deeply involved in supporting those who have suffered pain and trauma “.
Lawyers for the couple told The Times the newspaper was “being used by Buckingham Palace to peddle a totally false story” before the Harry and Meghan interview aired.
Grandson of the Queen and sixth in line of succession to the British crown, Harry, 36, married Meghan, a Métis actress, in a high-profile ceremony at Windsor Castle in 2018.
After their withdrawal, the couple, who are expecting their second child, settled near Los Angeles and signed lucrative contracts with Netflix and Spotify.
In a previous excerpt from the CBS interview that aired last Sunday, Harry, who blamed the press in part for the tragic death in 1997 of his mother, Princess Diana, said he feared history would repeat itself.
The crisis comes at a difficult time for Queen Elizabeth II, whose husband Prince Philip, 99, has been hospitalized in London for more than two weeks with an infection.
On Thursday, the palace said it had “successfully undergone surgery for a pre-existing heart problem.” He will still remain hospitalized “several days to be treated, rest and recover”.
“This is obviously very bad timing,” said Penny Junor, an expert on the royal family, of the televised interview, which “from the start was not a good idea.”
Citing media pressure to justify leaving the monarchy in 2020 and moving to California, Harry and Meghan have “spent this past year seeking publicity in one way or another. From my perspective, that makes it all right. that is quite hypocritical, “she added to AFP.