LONDON – Sunday night had promised to be the main event.
But the week leading up to Prince Harry and Meghan’s interview with media mogul Oprah Winfrey instead delivered daily episodes of royal drama in the form of leaks, counter-statements and well-timed preview clips.
Most recently, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, accused the royal family of “perpetuating falsehoods” about the couple rolled into one 30 second excerpt from the highly anticipated interview released early Thursday.
“I don’t know how you can expect that after all this time we would still be silent if ‘The Firm’ played an active role in perpetuating falsehoods about us,” she tells Winfrey.
Buckingham Palace told NBC News that it would not comment on the clip.
Using the name the British royal family sometimes uses to describe themselves, Meghan re-highlights the couple in comments that are likely to further fuel the growing public divide.
The clip was released just hours after the palace announced it was conducting an internal investigation into allegations of bullying against Meghan, published by a UK newspaper earlier this week.
“We are clearly very concerned about the allegations,” the statement said, citing the Times report, which cites unnamed sources and includes details that have not been independently verified by NBC News.
“The Duchess is saddened by this recent attack on her character,” said a spokesman for Meghan and Harry.
Local morning Shows on radio and television were similarly dominated by the royal saga.
A popular radio station went as far as ask the question whether the couple can remain British citizens.
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Harry and Meghan have publicized their problems with British tabloids over the past few years.
In an interview with TV presenter James Corden last week, Queen Elizabeth II’s grandson Harry said that Britain’s “toxic” press was one of the things that made him move his family to California for a more independent one last year To lead life.
“It was a really difficult environment as a lot of people have seen. We all know what the British press can be like and it has ruined my sanity,” he said.
The sprinkling of preview clips during the week may have been designed to build tension ahead of the interview that airs on CBS on Sunday night.
And so they did.
For a royal family used to keeping affairs private, the extraordinary public struggle represents a remarkable break with tradition.
“The Sussexes seem to be making their experiences public to take control of the narrative,” said Carolyn Harris, a royal expert and writer from Canada.
While royals have given many interviews, the decision to invite such a public examination of the tensions that have been playing out behind the doors of the palace has been “controversial” with the family.
“I think the time has come now that you can see the gloves are off,” Roya Nikkhah, a royal expert and correspondent for the Sunday Times, told BBC Radio on Thursday.
“Historically, there is so much ill will on both sides about what happened that timing is just a small thing,” she added.
The Sussexes completed their split from the royal family last month a year after they “stepped back” from their public duties in a tabloid rush that Meghan’s supporters say has often resulted in racial harassment and bullying.
The couple announced on Valentine’s Day that they were expecting their second child.
The Winfrey interview was billed as an opportunity for the couple to speak openly about their reasons for leaving the family.
“If that is associated with the risk of losing things,” says Meghan in the teaser clip published on Thursday. “I mean, a lot has already been lost.”