Oprah Spent Two Days with Meghan and Harry Hours Before their Parting Shot at Palace – and ‘Gained a Unique Insight Into Rift’ that will Make ‘Pure Gold’ Television

The Duke of Sussex called The Queen at Windsor Castle from his home in California but the hour-long conversion took Harry one step further outside the Royal Family. Pictured: Meghan Markle, Prince Harry and his grandmother in 2018

Oprah Winfrey spent two days interviewing Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on Wednesday and Thursday before their parting shot at Buckingham Palace – and ‘gained a unique insight into the rift’, it was claimed last night.

The prime-time discussion, which controversially ‘blindsided’ the Queen after her grandson chose not to inform her of the sit-down ‘tell all’, will make ‘pure gold’ when it airs next month, aides told the Sun.

The chat show host prepared for the interview at her home in Hawaii before flying into California, where she also owns a second property in Montecito a short drive from the couple, on her £50million private jet.

Oprah, who attended the Sussexes’ wedding and has been a firm supporter of their decision to leave Britain, was with the couple just hours before they released their statement, having filmed the discussion on Wednesday and Thursday.

The presenter only left Santa Barbara, where she travelled to with an entourage of assistants and her rescue cocker spaniel Sadie, later on Friday, as the fallout from Megxit went into overdrive.

Sources told the Sun how the friends looked relaxed, and not as if they were caught in the middle of a major royal drama.

In stark contrast to the glamorous meeting, Harry’s grandfather, Prince Philip, remains in hospital, and was visited by a teary-eyed Prince Charles yesterday, with the 99-year-old expected to continue to be monitored and encouraged to rest into next week.

The interview with Oprah is due to be aired on Sunday March 7, and a person close to the Sussexes told the Sunday Times last night that Meghan believes the prime-time broadcast gives her the ‘loudest way she’ll get her voice back’.

Another source told the Sun: ‘The pair are clearly very close to Oprah and the fact she’s been with them at such an intense time has given her a unique insight into the rift with the royals.

‘The drama of last week means that Oprah’s tell-all show will be pure gold. It’s time to hide behind the sofa for the other royals.’

The Royals are braced for the couple to hit back at the Palace in the interview that was filmed just before The Queen removed Harry and Meghan’s royal patronages because a ‘life of public service’ is not compatible with the couple’s lucrative new career in America.

That sparked a barbed response from the Sussexes stating ‘service is universal’, which Royal sources called ‘horribly disrespectful’ and ”you can’t line your pockets while undertaking official duties’.

Speaking about the Oprah interview which was filmed in California, the source close the couple told the Times: ‘Having an institutional voice within the royal family wasn’t enough [for Meghan]. This interview will be the loudest way she’ll get her voice back.’

‘When they first started dating Meghan felt she had lost her voice. She had had a platform as a moderately successful actress, and when she was told to stop using her social media and be careful what she said, I could tell that loss of voice and independence pained her.’

The Royals will be braced for the couple to air their grievances as Prince Philip, 99, is treated in hospital.

An emotional Prince of Wales arrived at King Edward VII’s hospital in London to visit his father this afternoon, who has been treated by doctors since Tuesday. He is expected to remain in hospital until next week.

It comes after it was revealed that a ‘battle royale’ over their royal titles raged behind the scenes, with the Queen telling the couple their commercial careers were completely incompatible with the impartiality required of those in public service.

According to one official, she made it ‘abundantly clear’ to her grandson that when it comes to being a working royal you are either in, or you are out, telling him: ‘You work for the monarchy, the monarchy doesn’t work for you.’

With negotiations already tense, the revelation of the Oprah interview sent matters into free fall and was deemed to be the final straw.

Officials were angered that Harry and Meghan had kept this secret from the Palace, hoping to announce their interview bombshell once the ‘divorce deal’ was done.

The interview promises to deliver the most explosive revelations about the royals since Princess Diana lifted the lid in 1995, with the pair set to reveal exactly why they decided to turn their backs on the family and the UK more widely.

TV companies are already locked in an international bidding war for the rights to the programme, which will see Meghan talk about marriage and motherhood, having recently announced her second pregnancy, as well as her handling of life under the most intense of spotlights.

She is highlighted as the star of the show, with CBS, the American network broadcasting the special in the States, billing Harry as something of a support act.

It will be ‘time to hide behind the sofa at the palace,’ a royal source said.

Last year, The Duke of York was forced to step back from public life following his car-crash Newsnight interview in 2019 about his friendship with paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, while Diana, Harry’s mother, told friends she ‘deeply regretted’ her appearance on Panorama, in which she admitted adultery and spoke frankly of her relationship with Charles.

‘Oprah is skilled at getting people to talk about their feelings and bound to take them down a path they’ll almost certainly regret,’ the source added.

‘There will be an element of reliving Megxit and airing their grievances. No one benefits from that, but Oprah will get it out of them whether they like it or not.’

A YouGov poll found nearly half of Britons think the interview is inappropriate. A further 29 per cent were in favour, while 25 per cent said they didn’t know.

It comes after Buckingham Palace announced in a dramatic statement yesterday that they had been stripped of their remaining roles following their move to California .

Pointedly, it said they could not continue with ‘the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service’.

As relations hit a bitter new low, an insider said: ‘They have made a roaring success of what they set out to do in the US, this independent life. And good luck to them. But you can’t have your cake and eat it.

‘If your primary role is to serve the head of state and the monarchy, then it’s very hard to do that if you are earning millions on the side. That’s philanthropy, not public service. The couple are working with some deserving charities and causes, which is great.

‘It’s just that the model of how they are doing it is different from how the Royal Family do it.’

The source stressed that the split from the Royal Family had been Harry and Meghan’s decision entirely. ‘They have chosen to live in America, they have not been exiled to America,’ they said.

Another insider said: ‘Let’s be clear, the Sussexes instigated this. They jumped. But the Queen is firm: either you are a public servant or you aren’t.

‘You can’t line your pockets while undertaking official duties.’

Although Palace officials were at pains to stress how ‘saddened’ the monarch and senior royals were by the split – insisting that Harry and Meghan were still ‘much loved’ members of the family – the rift between the two sides is now wider than ever.

Relations are so acrimonious that despite weeks of discussions, they couldn’t even agree a joint statement on the issue. ‘It’s actually all very sad,’ a source said.

Another insider said: ‘The direction of travel has been clear for a while. The Queen has been very clear from the start that this ‘half in, half out’ model demanded by the Sussexes wouldn’t work and hasn’t deviated from that. Not once. Their original idea was to have a ‘third way’ of being a royal. And the Queen has said quite simply ‘no, you can’t’.’

The Mail has been told that it was Harry who pushed to restart talks over his and Meghan’s position early this year.

According to insiders, there was a ‘puzzling sense of urgency’ to his requests that perplexed palace officials. When news of Meghan’s deal for a ‘tell all’ interview with Oprah Winfrey broke earlier this week ‘all became clear’.

This was seen as ‘shocking’ by the royal household, which had hoped to make an amicable joint announcement about the couple’s future earlier this week.

The Daily Mail revealed exclusively earlier this week that the couple were set to lose their remaining royal patronages.

They will now be forced to relinquish a series of high profile roles connected to causes close to their hearts and, most devastatingly for Harry, his three honorary military positions. The pair have also had to relinquish their roles with the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, although they are set to retain their official titles, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

Harry, 36, and Meghan, 39, first announced their desire to quit as working royals in January last year without even informing the Queen beforehand, a move which deeply hurt the 94-year-old monarch.

The ensuing ‘Sandringham Summit’ saw the Queen, backed by the Prince of Wales and Duke of Cambridge, stand firm against her grandson and his wife, who were demanding they be allowed to move to North America in pursuit of their fortunes while continuing to serve her as ‘quasi-working royals’.

In the end the couple were forced to agree not to use their royal titles for commercial gain. However the Queen did agree to hold over some of their official patronages – most notably Harry’s military positions – while a 12-month review of their new arrangements was concluded.

It can now be revealed that over the past year a ‘battle royale’ over these official roles has raged behind the scenes, with neither side willing to concede.

Harry and Meghan have categorically refused to accept their loss of standing and insisted they wanted to continue with limited royal duties while landing contacts with firms such as Spotify and Netflix.

The Queen, however, has told the couple that their commercial careers were completely incompatible with the impartiality required of those in public service.

According to one official, she made it ‘abundantly clear’ to her grandson that when it comes to being a working royal you are either in, or you are out, telling him: ‘You work for the monarchy, the monarchy doesn’t work for you.’

With negotiations already tense, the revelation of the Oprah interview sent matters into free fall.

Harry and Meghan had kept this secret from the Palace, hoping to announce their interview bombshell once the ‘divorce deal’ was done. This angered officials, who had hoped to make a final announcement on the so-called ‘Megxit deal’ at the beginning of the week.

The couple, who announced on Sunday they were expecting their second child, were said to have ‘hit the roof’ when they saw the Palace’s draft statement, which said that in stepping away as full-time working royals they could not be of ‘public service’.

All lines of communication subsequently broke down.

With a deep but unyielding sadness, the Queen had no choice but to formally write to her grandson confirming that ‘Megxit’ was final.

In its statement yesterday, Buckingham Palace said: ‘The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have confirmed to Her Majesty the Queen that they will not be returning as working members of the Royal Family.

‘Following conversations with the duke, the Queen has written confirming that in stepping away from the work of the Royal Family it is not possible to continue with the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service.

‘The honorary military appointments and royal patronages held by the Duke and Duchess will therefore be returned to Her Majesty, before being redistributed among working members of the Royal Family.’

They added: ‘While all are saddened by their decision, the Duke and Duchess remain much loved members of the family.’

Four minutes later a spokesman for the Sussexes retorted: ‘As evidenced by their work over the past year, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex remain committed to their duty and service to the UK and around the world, and have offered their continued support to the organisations they have represented regardless of official role.

‘We can all live a life of service. Service is universal.’

Harry and Meghan will still be invited to family events such as Trooping the Colour and the prince is expected to join his brother, Prince William, to unveil a statue in memory of their late mother Princess Diana at Kensington Palace on July 1.

But no one was pretending last night that relations are likely to be anything other than uncomfortable in future.

‘There is absolutely nothing wrong with what Harry and Meghan have chosen to do, but they cannot do it as royals and as public servants,’ said one insider.

‘The only hope is that perhaps now that the business side of things have been removed, they can start to repair their personal relationships.’

SOURCE: Daily Mail, Tom Pyman