WELL, that was some interview.
Not since Frost broke Nixon, 60 Minutes saved the Clintons’ marriage, Martin ‘Bashir’d’ Diana or Oprah asked Wacko Jacko if he was a virgin, has a television interview been as ‘eagerly anticipated’ as Sunday night’s showdown, well, showboat, between the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and, well, anyone who thinks the House of Windsor is any more relevant these days than the House of Fraser.
Looking to break her personal best and all-time world record for the most-watched gogglebox powwow (her 1993 sit-down with Jackson on ABC netted a tasty 90 million+ viewers), Oprah played a blinder by delivering the coup de main during a consummate display of tag-team passive aggression. Alternately slipping through the ropes of this one-sided, two-hour contest (Winfrey was a ‘#Megharry’ wedding guest in 2018, so she ain’t no Torquemada) with a demure, kimono-wearing, visibly pregnant Meghan, for many, this CBS ‘special’ was often anything but special, given the meandering, mellifluous and often munificent pitch and tone of the affair. But this spectacle wasn’t about knockout punches or killer blows; this was an efficient, expedient and most of all professional takedown of British aristocratic amateurism, which is why the Windsors never had a chance.
When it comes to getting up close and personal with her subjects, or targets, in the case of the Windsors, Oprah’s a ninja. She gets the scoops, one because she’s Oprah, and two because she gives people what they want, namely dirt, albeit gift-wrapped with patchouli and scented candles.
She’s thus disarming, especially now that she’s taken on an even more materteral stature. From the get-go, I could tell Oprah’s soft shoe shuffle was an even bigger act than Meghan’s. As they sliced and diced Charles, William and Kate, Oprah played Yoda to Meghan’s Jedi knight. Together, they made for a formidable duo. Put them in a room with Kamala Harris and it’s game over for the long faltering ‘special relationship’ as these sisters aren’t just ‘doing it for themselves’ – they’ve got their eyes on a far bigger prize.
No blowhard, toadying, bourgeois interviewer of the John Humphreys, Andrew Neil or Piers Morgan genus could’ve either landed an interview of this magnitude or delivered the goodies in the way Oprah has. For one, she got the job done because she’s far less interested in the sound of her voice – and parroting some party or establishment line. She’s infinitely more interested in giving her subjects a false enough sense of security that they’ll spill the beans, and thus deliver two or three headline-grabbing zingers.
Oprah doesn’t waste her time with endless streams of technocratic, pretentious or political nonsense or battle with subjects over answers they don’t want to give or seek information that’s irrelevant to the bigger picture. As this set-piece or ‘set-up’ interview demonstrates, the bigger picture was a carefully orchestrated takedown of the Windsors designed to give ‘The Firm’ the beating so many believe they richly deserve for their contemptuous treatment of the Sussexes.
Most likely filmed in the luxurious garden of, according to the Daily Mirror, “the sprawling California mansion of CBS journalist and Winfrey’s close friend, Gayle King,” the pre-recorded interview (that’s always a giveaway that the fix is in) had Meghan and Oprah figuratively high-fiving each other with every calculated blow until the moment of truth came.
It wasn’t the dutiful ‘Waity Katie’ making Meghan cry over some tittle-tattle, the admission that Harry and Megs married in secret in their “backyard” three days before their much-hyped Windsor Castle nuptials, or even that Meghan had contemplated suicide due to the pressure she’d been put under and the subsequent lack of support from The Firm (apparently, she even had to consult Google on how to sing the UK national anthem).
No, it was the startling but not shocking revelation that far from viewing Meghan and her son-to-be Archie as a diversity slam dunk, and thus an indication that maybe, just maybe, the House of Windsor could be crawling into the 21st century by welcoming her with open arms, it was in fact the institutionally racist organisation we knew it to be: Buckingham Palace let it be known to Meghan and Harry that it had “concerns and conversations about how dark [Archie’s] skin might be.”
Cue a slacked-jawed Oprah; followed by a cut to a resigned Meghan; cut to yet another interminable ad break. Not even Suits could’ve dropped a cliff-hanger like this.
Some will, rather discourteously, claim that by going there and dropping such a bombshell Meghan has dissed the monarchy by playing the ‘race card.’ But these supine popinjays, mainly on Britain’s more bigoted streets, porcine social media, and bilious media pages and airwaves, have always had it in for Meghan, and for reasons so obvious the poor woman has now had to spell it out to what will soon be an audience in the hundreds, not tens, of millions.
Take this as an example from establishment toad and sister of prime minstrel Boris Johnson, Rachel Johnson, of the apparently ‘not racist’ invective that Meghan, and by extension, all black people have had to endure from Britain’s so-called ‘elite’:
“Genetically, she is blessed. If there is issue from her alleged union with Prince Harry, the Windsors will thicken their watery, thin blue blood and Spencer pale skin and ginger hair with some rich and exotic DNA. Miss Markle’s mother is a dreadlocked African-American lady from the wrong side of the tracks who lives in LA…”
That’s rich coming from the scion of a clan of semi-albinos. That said, Diana Spencer and Sarah Ferguson had, as toffs speak equinely of their womenfolk, ‘impeccable breeding’ and still got treated like dirt, so once again it’s all too easy to see race and racism as a ‘thing’ rather than psychosexual inadequacies and obsessions about who has the right to breed with who as the real vice anglaise du jour.
Of course, as Michelle Obama famously said, “When they go low, we go high,” so I should mind my tongue. However, as the next in line to the throne wants to be reincarnated as a tampon, and his brother and eighth in line is under scrutiny, if not investigation, for sex with a minor, The Firm, along with its grubby media fanbase, leave plenty of scope for playing dirty – which, in her own eyelash-fluttering way, is clearly Meghan’s game. Her asymmetrical approach is a masterstroke of how to take on establishments such as the British monarchy. There’s nothing to be gained by these status-obsessed, class-riddled amateurs trying to duke it out with pros like Meghan, whose stock can only rise.
As comedian Frankie Boyle would say, by “opening the racist door” and revealing what an outmoded, outdated and irrelevant institution they are, they have not only empowered an overwhelmingly pro-Meghan, pan-racial America, they’ve radicalised the black diaspora into getting behind her. Even for British constitutional, political and ideological agnostics like myself, racializing yet another tedious aspect of life forces one to take a position, if not a stand. My enemy’s enemy and all that thus makes me a de facto supporter of Team Meghan. Go Meghan, go Oprah, go Harry!
Speaking of the sixth in line to the throne, far from being a bit player in all of this, Hazza, much as David Beckham was empowered by Posh Spice, has learnt from his better half how to get his game face on, get in touch with his feminine side and become part of a power couple rather than an also-ran in a going-nowhere team.
Stepping off the bench in the second half of the show, Harry punctuated proceedings with some classic talk-to-the-hand moves such as, “he stopped taking my calls” in reference to papa Prince Charles’ airing him for emigrating to Canada with Megs in 2020; and opining that his faltering relationship with big brother William is enjoying some “space at the moment.” Aww.
Walking back the cat from Sunday night’s interview, it’s plain to see that the House of Windsor has had an identity crisis ever since it changed its name from the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha during World War I to avoid anti-German sentiment. From mad monarchs, to Mrs Simpson, to chumming up with the Nazis, to playing with paedos, rather than face the real serious dysfunctionality within the family, and a wobbling Union and crumbling Commonwealth, outsiders like Meghan, as Diana and Fergie were before her, are occasionally drafted in to act as scapegoats for their foibles.
But in Meghan Markle they may well have met their match, not least because the winds of change are blowing heavily from the direction of people like her. Sunday night could so easily have seen Charles on the sofa with Meghan’s mum, the captivating Doria Ragland, and #Megharry. Instead, the Windsors have, once again, chosen to act like asses rather than utilise their assets.
As the writer Nirpal Dhaliwal says, “The Meghan-Oprah pact reflects how, in the New World Order, black Americans are now a more powerful bloc than the British aristocracy. Black celebrity now eclipses British royalty. Jay-Z and Beyonce are bigger than Will and Kate will ever be.”