The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have betrayed the royal family and caused lasting damage to the monarchy in the year that has passed since they quit as senior royals, a royal author has claimed.
Penny Junor said Harry and Meghan’s accusations of racism and other allegations made in their explosive Oprah interview “lobbed a huge bomb into the heart of the institution”.
The first anniversary of Megxit – when the Queen’s grandson Harry and former Suits star Meghan stepped down from royal duties and stopped using their HRH styles on March 31 last year – falls on Wednesday.
Ms Junor said: “When Harry and Meghan left a year ago people were surprised and disappointed because they were a great pair.
“Harry was a hugely popular royal and Meghan was a great asset to the family.
“A year on, I think a lot of people are really angry and think that they have betrayed their family and lobbed a huge bomb into the heart of the institution and sort of taken a swipe at the UK as well.”
The Sussexes’ two-hour televised sit-down with Oprah Winfrey at the start of this month left the royal family facing one of its worst crises for generations.
Meghan said an unnamed royal – not the Queen nor the Duke of Edinburgh – raised concerns with Harry about how dark their son Archie’s skin tone might be before he was born.
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The duchess also told how she contemplated suicide but was not supported by the institution even when she begged for help.
Harry said he felt “let down” by his father the Prince of Wales, said he was cut off financially by his family in the months before Megxit, and expressed his shock at his loss of taxpayer-funded security.
The interview was aired while Harry’s grandfather 99-year-old Philip was in hospital recovering from heart surgery.
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Ms Junor described the crisis as worse than the abdication of Edward VIII.
“The circumstances are very different. Edward VIII was pushed out, whereas Harry and Meghan chose to leave, but I think this is more damaging,” she said.
“It looked as if Edward’s abdication was going to damage the monarchy, but in fact, it didn’t because his brother was ready to step into his shoes, and George VI did a really good job and restored the reputation of the monarchy.”
She added of the Oprah interview: “These are really terrible accusations that that will stick.”
Others came out in support of the Sussexes following the interview.
Bernice King, the youngest child of the late civil rights activist Martin Luther King, tweeted at the time: “Royalty is not a shield from the devastation and despair of racism.”
Tennis star and Meghan’s friend Serena Williams also backed the duchess, tweeting: “Her words illustrate the pain and cruelty she’s experienced.
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“I know first hand the sexism and racism institutions and the media use to vilify women and people of colour to minimise us, to break us down and demonise us.”
In the days that followed the interview, US broadcaster Gayle King – a friend of Meghan’s – revealed that initial talks between Harry and Charles and the Duke of Cambridge were “not productive”.
Ms Junor suggested that King’s disclosure would have an indelible impact on Harry’s relationship with his family.
“The fact that the gist of that conversation was broadcast is a terrible betrayal of trust,” Ms Junor said.
“I don’t know how the whole problem will be resolved because Harry has demonstrated that he’s not trustworthy, and that if the royal family make any approach to him, if he doesn’t like what they say, the chances are it’s going to be on global television.”
The Sussexes, who are expecting their second child – a daughter – in the summer after a miscarriage last year, have embraced their new life in California, away from the monarchy.
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They have secured lucrative multimillion-pound deals with both Netflix and Spotify, established their philanthropic Archewell foundation, moved into an £11 million mansion in Montecito, and Harry has been hired as a chief impact officer for BetterUp Inc, which sells companies employee coaching and mental health help.
But the fallout from Megxit and the Oprah interview is far from over.
The Queen issued a statement saying that the issues raised would be dealt with privately as a family, but that “some recollections may vary”.
Buckingham Palace is considering appointing a diversity tsar to help assess and improve representation across the royal household.
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