Meghan and Harry’s interview last Sunday night with Oprah was far more explosive than I expected. It was absolutely a calculated and deliberate hit job on the Royal Family and on the monarchy as an institution. All three participants bear responsibility for the lies and the misinformation they disseminated to a global audience, the majority of whom don’t track the ins-and-outs of royalty closely enough to fact-check or call foul.
Since the interview aired, I have gotten quite a few messages from impassioned Meghan fans—or perhaps just social justice do-gooders—who have demanded to know why I don’t believe Meghan. I couldn’t help but think to myself, “why don’t I believe her? Why would I believe?!” The idea that I have to accept everything Meghan says, and that I cannot make a reasonable judgment on the veracity of her allegations is, well, completely illogical to me. We all can watch the interview, question the allegations, and make our own judgments on the extent to which we believe Meghan and Harry’s story.
In America, we have a justice system that utilizes trials by jury. When the government brings charges against a person, the burden is on the government to make its case. If the United States fails to meet its burden, the defendant is acquitted. In a jury trial, the government has to convince a jury of its case against the defendant. Juries are regular people who listen to and view the evidence presented by the government. A lot of evidence is testimonial, i.e. a witness providing an oral account. Among other things, the jury assesses the credibility of the witnesses to determine what weight it will give the evidence (the testimony) of the witness. When a jury makes its decision, we are—as a society—certain enough in its conclusions that we permit the court to enter judgment against the defendant and impose a sentence. We are willing to take freedom and even life based on the conclusions that juries come to by listening to evidence, assessing credibility, and drawing conclusions. So, I certainly believe that all of us have the rational capacity to assess Meghan and Harry and assert our own conclusions about their credibility.
A prosecutor or a defense attorney might sometimes seek to impeach a witness. When you impeach a witness, you show places where the witness has contradicted herself. When an attorney impeaches a witness in front of a jury, not only does he rebut that particular point in the witness’s testimony, but he calls into question the witness’s overall credibility. After all, if you lie about one thing, we are going to be more suspicious that you might lie in other areas, too.
In Sunday’s interview, Meghan was a knot of contradictions. She was an eminently impeachable witness. Oprah never once sought to push back on anything Meghan alleged, but the rest of us certainly can. Let’s jump in…
Meghan doubled down on the same fib she told us in her engagement interview, that she never Googled Harry or researched the royals before she married. I think every woman reading this is raising an eyebrow. Even Oprah couldn’t swallow it with a straight face, and Meghan’s implausible assertion drew one of the few follow-up questions from Oprah that had even a hint of tough with any bite.
I don’t believe for a second that Meghan didn’t do deep research on both Harry and the monarchy. It is the natural and the responsible thing to do. This is the same woman who made a point of exiting the plane at the start of one of her tours clutching color-coordinated binders. Meghan does her homework. Why—in the most important area of her life—would she not research?
Plus, love is knowledge. When you love someone, or are falling in love with someone, you want to know all about them. It is basic human nature to desire to know about the object of your affection. I would expect that Meghan Googled Harry, read all about Diana, read about the monarchy as an institution, read about protocol, read about Britain… In short, researched anything and everything connected to the man she claimed she adored.
This “little fib,” though was a just a warm-up.
Meghan’s Big Lie
Meghan grossly misled the public about the dispute over Archie’s title. The 1917 Letters Patent were issued by George V expressly to clarify and limit the HRH (His/Her Royal Highness) status. This is the relevant portion of the text:
George the Fifth by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas, King, Defender of the Faith To all to whom these presents shall come Greeting: Whereas Her late Majesty Queen Victoria did by Her Letters Patent dated the thirtieth day of January in the twenty seventh year of Her Reign declare her Royal Pleasure as to the style and title of the Princes and Princesses of the Royal Family in the manner in the said Letters Patent particularly mentioned And whereas we deem it expedient that the said Letters Patent should be extended and amended and that the styles and titles to be borne by the Princes and Princesses of the Royal Family should be henceforth established defined and limited in manner hereinafter declared Now Know Ye that We of our especial grace certain knowledge and mere motion do hereby declare our Royal Will and Pleasure that the children of any Sovereign of these Realms and the children of the sons of any such Sovereign and the eldest living son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales shall have and at all times hold and enjoy the style title or attribute of Royal Highness with their titular dignity of Prince or Princess prefixed to their respective Christian names or with their other titles of honour… [emphasis added]
So, George V limited HRH status to the children of the monarch; at the second generation (the grandchildren), to children of the male line; and at the third generation, to the eldest son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales. So, as you can see, George V wanted to keep the HRHs (princes and princesses) in the family, and only to those persons with a close connection to the throne.
You can see these rules in practice in the BRF today. Anne was born the daughter of the reigning monarch and therefore was born an HRH—a royal princess. But, as a female child of the monarch, her children (Zara and Peter) were not entitled to HRH status according to the 1917 Letters Patent. Anne and her husband declined other titles, but Zara and Peter were never entitled to HRH status. Contrast that to Andrew’s daughters (Beatrice and Eugenie), both of whom are HRHs.
There is a plot twist with Edward’s children. As the children of a male child of the monarch, you’d think they would be HRHs just like Beatrice and Eugenie, but instead they are styled as children of an earl. The Queen decided at the time Edward married Sophie that their children would not be styled HRH. There is an interesting British constitutional question about whether the Wessex children are legally HRHs, but just not using their HRHs (as Harry and Meghan are not using theirs, even though they retain their royal status), or if the Queen’s press release at the time of their parents’ marriage legally withdrew their HRH status. I am inclined to agree with the constitutional argument that supports the latter position—they are not legally HRHs. Regardless, the point is that as the children of a male child of the monarch, they would have been HRHs, but according to the pleasure of the sovereign they either do not use them, or legally never had them.
At the third generation, only Kate’s first-born son would have been entitled to HRH status at birth. Because the rules were changed around this time to permit a female born before a male to inherit the throne, Kate’s eldest child (boy or girl) was destined to take the throne. Therefore, in December of 2012, the Queen issued Letters Patent to make all children of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge HRHs at birth. All William and Kate’s children will be the children of the monarch, and it seems in keeping with the dignity of the Crown to grant them that status from birth.
Letters patent are not issued willy-nilly. Harry was obviously going to marry at some point and presumably have children. Had the Queen wanted Harry’s children to be HRHs at birth, she could have included them at that time. She could have had the language drafted to say all the grandchildren of the Prince of Wales, or all the grandchildren of the Prince of Wales in the male line. She did not. That was long before Meghan or any question of race was in the mix.
The rules governing HRH status are, therefore, longstanding and obeyed, and the deviations have been for reasons that pertain either to the longevity of the monarchy (as was the case with Edward’s children) or to the dignity of status that comes from very intimate proximity to the throne—intimacy that Archie doesn’t have and will never have.
When Meghan said Archie was denied a title to which he had a right, that was false. She lied. It sounds very much like Meghan and Harry requested Letters Patent to make Archie an HRH at birth, as the Queen had done for Kate’s children, and were told no. If that is the case, she misled us by claiming the rules were changed to deny Archie a title at birth when in fact she was simply told that the Queen wouldn’t make an exception for Archie.
Now, several commentators have noted that Meghan said something to suggest that Charles might have also disclosed that he doesn’t plan to extend an HRH to Meghan and Harry’s children even when he ascends the throne. If that is the case, Meghan has twisted the story with a sleight of hand. She has conflated the two important dates–Archie’s birth (when he was indisputably not entitled to HRH status according to longstanding royal rules) and the time when Charles ascends the throne (when Archie would be raised to an HRH). I suspect the truth is that Meghan and Harry asked for Archie to get his HRH status early–for the Queen to issue new Letters Patent for him, and were told no. That in itself was probably the source of significant drama. I think is possible that in addition to that news, they were then told something even more catastrophic in their minds–that Charles was thinking of slimming the monarchy and was not planning to grant HRH status to Meghan and Harry’s children at all, even when he ascends the throne. I am less sure of that, but it would make sense on several levels. If that second part is true, and because I think Meghan is very focused on royal status and titles, I think this would have put her into a tail spin.
Of course, anyone who has been watching the royals for any length of time knows that Charles has been fixated on slimming the monarchy for years. He understands that the whole institution is a bit of misfit in a world of democracies, and having fewer HRHs running around is a survival mechanism in his mind. His plan to slim the monarchy predates Meghan or any question of race. It’s a trend most of the royal families of Europe are following. Recall the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012 when only the six senior members were presented on the balcony. That was a major signal at the time. Now that Harry has his own wife and is establishing his own family, and the Cambridge princes and princess are growing and will be taking their places in the royal universe, Harry begins to fade as a primary royal, and his children simply are not that senior. As has been noted ad nauseam, “Diana’s boys” were always destined for very different futures. Their children even more so. I don’t think Meghan is willing to accept this.
Meghan didn’t just obfuscate or omit, she affirmatively lied to us in this segment. But, she did not stop there. Lying about the titles was her foundation to create an even more damaging narrative. When Oprah asked why Archie was denied a title (and again, Meghan has led the audience to believe that Archie was entitled to an HRH at birth and they changed something just for him), Meghan sighed deeply. Oprah, playing the consummate foil, prompted again, “was it about his race? And I know that’s a loaded question.” Meghan replied, “but I can give an honest answer.” Then Meghan told the story about the conversation that Harry had with an unnamed member of his family about what color the baby might be and what that might look like. So, Meghan set up a wholly false premise—that the BRF denied Archie HRH status he was entitled to receive—and then came in with this story about skin color to support her allegation that the reason Archie was denied an HRH was due to racism in the royal family.
This was the mega-revelation, the biggest allegation of all. To give her credit, Oprah asked for more details. My inbox has dozens of stories from you (readers) who are in mixed-race marriages or who have a sibling who is. You have told me about the conversations you and your family members have had about mixed-race children. You all have told me this is a fairly common discussion to have. That is to say, when a mixed-race couple marries, wondering what the children will look like is a discussion that couples have among themselves and with close family members. It doesn’t have to be racist to discuss it. Certainly, such a conversation is personal and most definitely could be racist. But we’d need details; we’d need some context to know. Oprah understood that, because she followed up with a question for Meghan: “How does one have that meeting?” Meghan replied: “That was relayed to me from Harry; those were conversations that family had with him.” Ok, so Meghan was not there. Oprah asked again: “They were concerned that if he were too brown, that that would be a problem? Are you saying that?” That’s the critical part. Meghan didn’t answer yes. She gave an evasive answer. “I wasn’t able to follow up with why,” she admitted, “but if that’s the assumption you are making, I think that feels like a pretty safe one.” WHAT? You didn’t bother following up, but you just aired this issue on global tv and told Oprah and the rest of us, you feel we can safely assume racism?
Meghan has given us no detail. Not what was said exactly, not who said it, not where they said it, what the context was…nothing. She herself was not present for the conversations. Apparently, she didn’t even bother to follow-up on the possible motivation or meaning of the statements. We (the audience and Oprah) know essentially nothing expect something about the possible color of Archie’s skin was mentioned privately to Harry, yet Meghan is inviting Oprah and a global audience, to make an assumption that Harry’s family—let’s give them names, because these are people we are talking about: William, Charles, Kate, Camilla—are bigoted racists. Do you see how profoundly unjust this all is?
I will repeat myself: We, as the jury, have nothing. No evidence. We don’t even know what the statement was, to say nothing of tone and context. Yet, we are invited to make this very, very serious judgment—and people all over the globe have done so. Based on her word? Meghan just lied to us about the titles, and now, without any actual evidence at all, and relaying to us a conversation for which she was not present and about which she did not follow up, we are supposed to freely associate that over to racism.
Meghan knew exactly what she was doing in that segment. She framed her in-laws as racists with a predicate based on a lie (the HRH dispute) and then a wholly unsupported assumption. Truly astounding. But there was more to come…
SMASHING THE ROYALS’ MENTAL HEALTH WORK
Meghan’s other major bombshell was the claim that she became suicidal and that the Royal Family didn’t give her any support. It is deeply troubling to hear anyone assert they are suicidal. I hope, if this is true, that Meghan has sought help and is continuing treatment.
I do not know if Meghan truly was suicidal. She may have been. Valentine Low reported that he had heard she was very emotional at that time, although not that she was contemplating suicide. Only she knows. I can say that I found Meghan’s claim that the Palace refused to help her very, very suspect. Harry went public with his mental health challenges around the time of the London Marathon and discussed how he sought and received professional help for years. Kate’s brother James Middleton revealed in the last year or two that he has battled serious depression, and that Kate was taking time away from family and royal duties to accompany him to therapy. The royals have been tangling with and addressing mental health issues intimately, both within and without the Palace walls, yet we are supposed to believe that Meghan approached the Palace with suicidal ideations and they callously ignored her pleas? I very frankly do not believe that.
The fact that Meghan had already misled us so shockingly in earlier parts of the interview made it even harder to swallow this next massive bombshell. If ever a witness had no credibility, it was the Duchess of Sussex on national tv.
There were a lot of other discrepancies in this interview—too many to count—but, these were the two headliners, for obvious reasons. In our day and age, the allegation of racism is very hard to defend against once it has been alleged. I am thinking of writing a post about William’s one-sentence defense of his family. But, this was a serious, serious allegation that had, as discussed above, no substance at all. It is shocking that Meghan would attack her in-laws so viciously, so publicly, with no real evidence to support her claim.
The mental health claim (that the royals wouldn’t give her help) is equally shocking. If they weren’t willing to get her help, what she is really alleging is they were willing to risk her death. That’s pretty heavy. Why would she say the Palace wouldn’t help her? I think Meghan was on a mission to inflict maximum damage on the institution of the monarchy and to carve out a role for herself outside the firm. Because, this allegation also strikes at the heart of William and Kate’s headline issues—mental health support.
Meghan needs a product to sell now that she isn’t a British Royal. In addition to what seems to be a bizarre obsession with being Diana 2.0, Meghan also needs a product to generate income. She needs to create relevancy in a crowded market. By claiming racism, by claiming she couldn’t get needed mental health help, she has set herself up to now be a motivational speaker on these issues–an advocate with actual experience in these thorny and dark passageways of life. And indeed, that is exactly what Meghan transitioned to right after smearing her in-laws; she seamlessly pitched herself as the perfect Commonwealth princess. As she noted herself, “60 or 70% [of the Commonwealth] are people of color, and they need examples of people who look like them, according to Meghan. This back and forth between smear the royals, allege a hardship, and advocate for others about that hardship was a pattern throughout the interview. And just at the end of this week, Archewell announced new partnerships with a number of charities, and the two primary types of charities the foundation is focusing on are race related and mental health.
In the Oprah interview, we saw some manipulation (maybe checkmating Charles into giving Archie an HRH, since he’ll be smeared as a racist now if he doesn’t); we saw her settling scores with in-laws (Kate made me cry); we saw her attacking an institution to destroy it (the green-eyed monster—if I can’t have it, no one can); and we saw her do some pretty solid business development. I’ll be writing more on some of these topics.
The key is that we can assess a witness’s credibility. We can probe her statements, measure them against facts we know to be true; we can point out the assertions that don’t click with common sense. We can come to fairly reasonable conclusions.
The thing about lying is that when you lie in little things, eventually you are willing to lie about big things. And the more you lie, the harder it is for other people to trust your word…on any topic. I knew from the engagement interview that Meghan wasn’t beneath the occasional fib, but Sunday night she proved she is willing to twist the truth on a major scale to inflict serious, real-world damage on people who stand in the way of her goals. Sunday’s interview was explosive, but not because it told us the Royal Family is racist or indifferent to the pleas of a woman contemplating suicide, but because we found out just how ruthlessly Meghan Markle is willing to lie to achieve an end. That was truly the breathtaking revelation.