Hopes that peace might break out between the Californian and British branches of the royal family following the confirmation that Harry and Meghan are no longer a part of it, and never will be again, are looking premature after the competition for global attention moved to a new theater: competing TV schedules.
It has emerged that the queen and the entire family of working royals will be participating in a BBC special broadcast a week from Sunday, just hours before Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah Winfrey screens on CBS.
Both sides are likely to say that neither has scheduled their appearance to try and overshadow the other; however, Sunday, March 7 looks set to be a prime example of the destructive lack of co-ordination and communication that bedeviled relations between the palace and the Sussexes, and will inevitably lead to Monarchy versions 1.0 and 2.0 being played off against and compared to each other in ensuing media coverage.
The queen and her family will gather Sunday afternoon for a broadcast from London’s Westminster Abbey, to be called “A Celebration for Commonwealth Day.”
The show will be anchored by a live broadcast from the Abbey, but the solemnity will be leavened with video packages of the royals in conversation with young people from across the 54 nations of the Commonwealth. Camilla will reportedly talk about literacy, William and Kate will discuss social care, and Sophie will explore the role of women. There will also be a message from the queen herself.
If that doesn’t get your heart racing—well, that’s good. It is not meant to.
The same cannot be said of another TV event taking place a few hours later, when Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah will screen. The U.K. royals, just unwinding after their busy day, have been advised to “hide behind the sofa” lest Meghan uses the interview to unload on the royals.
While the content of Oprah’s interview remains a closely guarded secret, a hint as to the likely more Californian tone of proceedings can perhaps be divined from a brief video clip the couple released yesterday to promote their new Archewell Audio Spotify podcast.
The palace have let it be known that the BBC event to mark Commonwealth Day has been in the pipeline for many months and is not simply a kneejerk reaction to Harry and Meghan’s Oprah Winfrey interview. Harry and Meghan’s people have not commented, however, it is believed that the Oprah show was simply timed to mark exactly one year since Harry and Meghan’s final duty as working royals—last year’s Commonwealth Day service.
Introducing another variable into the situation is the health of Prince Philip, the 99-year-old husband of the queen who remained in a hospital Tuesday for the eighth day. Prince William sought to allay concerns about his grandfather’s health on Monday, telling a well-wisher at a public engagement who asked directly about him, “Yes, he’s OK. They’re keeping an eye on him.”
Prince Philip was admitted last Tuesday evening as a precautionary measure after a doctor was called to Windsor Castle, where he has been shielding with the queen, who is 94. He had complained of feeling unwell, but traveled to the hospital by car and walked in unaided.
On Tuesday, Buckingham Palace issued an update on his condition, saying, "The Duke of Edinburgh remains at King Edward VII’s Hospital where he is receiving medical attention for an infection. He is comfortable and responding to treatment but is not expected to leave hospital for several days.”