Global lens

How the world responded to Harry and Meghan’s Oprah interview

US chat show host praised for her role in tell-all that creates ‘new crisis’ for Royal Family

Headlines across the globe are being dominated by allegations of racism within the Royal Family following the broadcast of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey.

As “The Firm” considers its next move - with the Queen reportedly vetoing a prepared statement last night - the world’s media are filling the vacuum left by their silence over what The Times’ Carol Midgley describes as a “televised napalm raid” on the Palace.

The “hysterical” reaction of “Britain's notorious tabloid press” is especially hard to miss, with “wall-to-wall coverage” from commentators who are “apoplectic with rage” after the interview aired on ITV on Monday, says The Hollywood Reporter

In the US, meanwhile, whatever “Disney-like fantasies” Americans may have of the Royals have been well and truly “scorched”, says The Washington Post.

Global opinions editor Karen Attiah argues that the Sussexes have revealed how “racism and white supremacy that the British wielded for centuries to sustain their empire remains very alive”. Their widely documented claims have severely undermined the “effectiveness of the soft-power propaganda that Britain and the Royal Family have been peddling”, Attiah writes.

Even Joe Biden appears to have tuned in to watch the interview, which aired across the pond on CBS on Sunday.

Asked whether the president had any response, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said: “For anyone to come forward and speak about their own struggles with mental health, and tell their own personal story, that takes courage. And that’s certainly something the president believes.”  

But while Biden seems happy to comment, Boris Johnson “broke the habit of a lifetime” when he refused to be drawn on the royal crisis during yesterday’s daily Downing Street press briefing, says Michael Deacon in The Telegraph

Displaying uncharacteristic “tact and restraint”, the prime minister emphasised his admiration for the Queen, but in an “unprecedented act of self-denial… succeeded in not expressing an opinion”, writes Deacon. 

“For black women, Meghan’s story is all too recognisable,” says independent news site gal-dem, which describes the events outlined by the Sussexes as “textbook misogynoir”. From the outset, royal aides and the UK press reverted to the “laziest of racialised, gendered tropes to discredit and attack her character”.

As they tell it, “she’s the angry black woman, the jezebel, the temptress, the tragic mulatto”, the site adds.  

The Wall Street Journal’s editor-at-large Gerard Baker is less sympathetic to the duchess and her husband, however. Yes,  they have had “crosses to bear”, but their “demand for sympathy” fell flat, Baker argues. 

“The ex-royal couple have enough wit to understand that their own hardships don’t occasion many tears outside their lachrymose celebrity friends,” he writes.

Yet they moaned about “the injustices that have befallen them in a systemically cruel society”, while sitting “dreamily in the verdant grounds of a California mansion” alongside one of the most “successful television celebrities on the planet”.

Whatever the verdicts on the validity of the couple’s complaints, the interview lived up to expectations in creating a “new crisis” for the Royal Family, says French paper Le Monde. The Palace will struggle to combat the image of a family that is “excessively traditionalist, even institutionally racist”.

On the other hand, asks German tabloid Bild, are we really supposed to believe that Markle had “no idea” what she was getting into when she married Harry?

According to Spain’s El Pais, the only participant to emerge entirely unscathed from the whole row is Winfrey, who cemented her position as the “Queen of American television”.

Critics worldwide clearly agree, with The New Yorker heralding Winfrey for her role in an interview that is an “iconic artifact of pop culture” .


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