What’s a good made-for-TV moment if it doesn’t get the people talking? And talk they have, ahead of the must-watch sit-down interview between Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, and Oprah Winfrey on Sunday.
The spectacle of the conversation, the couple’s first joint interview in years, has provoked a range of reactions – and that’s before it has even aired on US (or UK) TV.
We scoured social media to see what people are saying ahead of the big chat. Here’s what you need to know.
It goes without saying, but there’s sure to be new information that comes from the interview. Heck, the interview itself is gossip, a chance to clear the air after the couple stepped back as senior members of the royal family, and social media was alight with expectation for hot “tea” to be spilled.
“Ghana celebrated its independence from Britain yesterday. Harry and Meghan speak out on Oprah today. Feeling the anti-colonial ancestral energy this weekend. Abeg, let the the imperial tea be spilled!” wrote the Washington Post’s Karen Attiah.
Another Twitter user, @EmilyHodgson, compared the upcoming event to the Boston Tea Party.
Get ready for Meghan to spill the tea like it’s 1773 at the Boston Harbour.
Thinking of Princess Diana
As the couple faces wave after wave of media scrutiny, comparisons to Harry’s mother, the late Princess Diana, also cropped up. According to early reports about the royal couple’s interview with Oprah, Harry says in the conversation he long feared “history repeating itself”, with Meghan facing the same kind of ravenous press his mother did before she died in a car crash in 1997 while being pursued by paparazzi. Many online reflected on the country’s experience with Diana, and how those lessons applied today.
“I recall when Diana died, the princes were in isolation in Balmoral but they had to be dragged back to London so the British public could see the “boys public sadness” to satiate their need for some weird grief porn that was gripping the nation” wrote comedian Janey Godley
Others got behind the royal couple.
“As a Brit, I feel it’s important to say, many of us believe Meghan & Harry. We remember how Diana was treated. We know how The Firm operate. The ones who believe the media & The Firm, tend to be right wingers, racists & Brexiteers. Not all Brits,” wrote @JamesPrescott77.
There seemed to be a general consensus that the press hadn’t quite gotten it right when covering the royals, allowing the hunger for tabloid drama to demoralise the people they were covering. One could see this dynamic in the enthusiastic reception to an old interview clip of Harry, talking about how nice it is to be away from the papers of England while completing his military service.
“I don’t want to sit around at Windsor,” Harry says in the clips, which has more than 350,000 views. “I just generally don’t like England that much, and it’s nice to be away from all the press and the papers and all the sh*** that they write.”
For everyone eagerly awaiting gossip or reflecting history, it seemed there were just as many online arguing that the whole affair was getting far too much attention.
With much of the world’s population still not vaccinated for Covid, many thought the media focus shouldn’t be on a pair of royal individuals, but the raging pandemic.
“Is it just me but,” @naniftrauts wrote, “in a Covid world where countries are struggling with vaccines, people are dying, economies in huge debt and people are losing their livelihoods, isn’t #HarryandMeghanonOprah just totally irrelevant indulgence on their part?”
Twitter user @Harryslaststand agreed.
“If you’re a tv/radio news producer or a newspaper editor that’s devoting more time to #HarryandMeghanonOprah rather than why it is cruel, unnecessary & derisory for the govt to offer nurses a 1% pay rise after being the front line warriors against #COVID19 you’re part of problem,” he said.
But the criticisms weren’t just abstract: some went directly at the royal couple, and the crown at large, over the subject of the interview.
Writer Craig Stone noted that at the end of the day, despite all the Duke and Duchess have faced, they’re still extremely privileged outcasts from an extremely family.
“I look forward to watching a billionaire question two millionaires on how hard it’s been leaving billionaires, to continue being millionaires,” he wrote. “Thoughts & prayers to Harry and Meghan in this difficult time, as they adapt to new staff AND a new mansion.”
And some saw a note of hypocrisy in taking to the media to vent about the frustrations of living life in the spotlight of the media.
"Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah Winfrey is set to be the TV viewing appointment of the year – possibly the decade. This being the couple who fled the UK to enjoy a ‘quiet life’...” wrote @lacey_butcher
Numerous users thought more scrutiny should go towards Prince Andrew, over his links with Jeffrey Epstein and the allegation of abuse against him, which he and the palace emphatically deny.
“Really not interested in this,” @Sctotsterahoy wrote. “Would like to see a trial though.”
Finally, there were those tired of the royals altogether, like @LisatheSimpson, who wrote, “I hope this marks the start of a nation questioning the institutions and norms it accepts as parts of British life. We should be ashamed we still have a monarchy, we should be ashamed that this couple were hounded out of the country.”