Meghan Markle has been planning her upcoming interview with Oprah Winfrey for almost two years, sources tell DailyMail.com.
The Duchess of Sussex originally tried to arrange a televised talk with friend and CBS anchor Gayle King after her son Archie's birth in May 2019 – but was overruled by the Royal Family's public relations machine, the sources claimed.
TV insiders say King and Winfrey have been in talks over a sit-down with the Sussexes ever since, eventually leading to the 90-minute interview set to air on CBS March 7.
In 2019 Meghan was hoping to do a 'short interview' about her time adjusting to Royal life and becoming a mother.
But public relations officials at Kensington Palace, who at the time were trying to tamp down rumors of tensions between the Sussexes and senior royals, quickly put a stop to the plans fearing 'it would alienate the UK press', a source close to the controversy said.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry sat down with Oprah Winfrey for a tell-all interview which is to be aired Sunday March 7 on CBS
Sources tell DailyMail.com that Meghan had been in talks with Oprah and Gayle King for two years
An uneasy compromise was struck, with King and her CBS TV crew instead being invited to the first photo shoot of Harry and Meghan with their newborn baby at St. George's Hall in Windsor.
Traditionally footage is shared between British TV broadcasters as a 'royal pool arrangement', but the insider said that after her interview was denied by royal handlers, 'Meghan put her foot down' that King, close friend to the Duchess' confidante Oprah, would be invited to the shoot.
'This interview has been two years in the making with either Gayle or Oprah asking the questions. In reality it is the two of them prepping for the in-depth conversation,' the source said
The spat was an early sign of the rift between the Palace and the Sussexes that eventually led to the couple losing their royal titles.
The source said Meghan was attempting to 'manage their own public image away from select UK media' and told staff that her motto was 'our lives - our way.'
'It was seen as a huge stride away from the usual methodology of Royal PR. It caused friction with the Sussexes, and a feeling that this was forbidden,' said the palace source.
'They were emphatically told she could not conduct her own lengthy interviews with US media friends after Archie's birth.
'That led to tension with courtiers as the pair wanted to tell their stories about philanthropic and personal matters.
'Certainly from their side there was an element of feeling handcuffed and not having full ownership of their image.
'The couple wanted to usher in a new era and mindset about having control, not just in their messaging but also about who they chose to speak with. Oprah and Gayle have been supportive publicly of Meghan and Harry, since they dated. So for the Sussexes their friends felt like a safe place.'
King, the host of CBS This Morning, was in London at the time filming Meghan and Harry Plus One, a 60-minute show that aired that month and was sympathetic to the couple.
The show's producers Patti Aronofsky and Judy Tygard included in the documentary commentators accusing UK media and others of having racist and sexist motivations for speaking out against Markle.
The morning show legend's team got access to Markle's makeup artist Daniel Martin and friend and actress Janina Gavankar for the program – perceived as a 'nod of approval' from the Sussexes.
Although King failed to secure the coveted sit-down with the Sussexes in 2019, she, Winfrey and the couple stayed in touch with a 'discussion on the table about when they would do that interview' the source said.
'Oprah and Gayle have been supportive publicly of Meghan and Harry, since they dated. So for the Sussexes their friends felt like a safe place,' sources said
Gayle covered the royal wedding of Meghan and Harry and has been supportive of the couple since they were first dating
'This interview has been two years in the making with either Gayle or Oprah asking the questions. In reality it is the two of them prepping for the in-depth conversation,' the source said.
'It is what the Sussexes have wanted for a long time - to present ''our lives, our way''.'
The world witnessed Harry and Meghan's increasing frustrations with the British press play out publicly during their African state visit in October 2019.
Harry snapped furiously at a Sky News reporter for asking a question as he walked to his car. During his tour finale speech he addressed his anger with the media.
'My deepest fear is history repeating itself,' he said. 'I've seen what happens when someone I love is commoditized to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person.
'I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces.'
In her 2019 documentary Harry and Meghan Plus One, King compared Markle to Princess Diana, outlining clear comparisons between her outlook on child-rearing and that of Harry's late mother.
King, who regularly speaks with the Duchess and attended her baby shower in New York, has previously insisted that despite reports of tensions in the House of Windsor, the Queen and Prince Charles support the former actress and are part of a 'team' raising Archie – a claim that has become increasingly unlikely as the divide between the Royal Family and the Sussexes widened.
King and her CBS TV crew were invited to the first photo shoot of Harry and Meghan with their newborn baby at St. George's Hall in Windsor after the interview was denied
Gayle King teased her 'royal special report' and spoke of her trip to Winsdor when Meghan was overdue and hours away from labor in 2019
The royal source said that King is helping Oprah prepare questions for their March 7 interview and played a key role in the deal to secure it.
The source also claimed that the Sussexes' decision to hire Hillary Clinton's former senior campaign aide Sara Latham as their Head of Communications in the UK was a key aspect of their drive for independence – though they later parted ways when the Sussexes left the country.
Meghan's decision to work with Latham on carving out her own family's media image was announced in March 2019.
Latham, who was part of their Kensington Palace office and media team, helped ensure that CBS TV cameras were present for baby Archie's reveal photo shoot at Windsor Castle.
Despite tradition that only UK media record such an occasion, one of King's CBS camera team attended the three-minute briefing.
The invitation prompted a furor in Royal circles.
Former press spokesperson Dickie Arbiter said: 'Choosing a US Network, friend or not, is treading on dodgy ground. That the inclusion of CBS in the pool means the pictures will make US Breakfast Shows is a fatuous excuse.'
But the palace source said that the Royal family's handlers were worried about an even greater 'backlash' from UK broadcasters had they let the planned interview with King go ahead.
King, who regularly speaks with the Duchess and attended her baby shower in New York (pictured), has previously insisted that despite reports of tensions in the House of Windsor, the Queen and Prince Charles support the former actress and are part of a 'team' raising Archie
'Had the Sussexes sat down with Gayle then, it would have prompted a war behind closed doors,' the source said. 'Senior Palace courtiers felt a move would prompt a backlash from major UK broadcasters, including the BBC.
'Buckingham Palace has always stood firm that no matter the severity of news or issues cutting off media outlets was never an option. The monarchy's famous motto 'Never complain. Never explain' stands firm.
'It led to frustration and angst between the Sussexes' team and other royals' handlers.'
But the source added that Harry and Meghan's split has afforded them new freedoms.
'Now that they are separated from royal duties, the Sussexes have full ownership of who they speak to and what they discuss,' the source said. 'The Oprah and Gayle experiment is the start of their sole ownership of their media representation.'
On Friday's episode of Good Morning America, King said that Oprah's interview had been filmed at the Sussexes' Montecito home and was a triumph.
'Harry and Meghan are talking to Oprah. It's their first major broadcast since giving up their senior royal duties,' King said. 'I've heard from reliable sources – this is Oprah talking – that it's the best interview she's ever done. So I'm curious. I think that's saying something!'