Major UK news outlets reported Monday that the royal couple would “threaten” the Queen with a “no-holds-barred” interview to get her to allow them to step down as senior members of the royal family.
Oprah Winfrey’s spokesperson on Monday denied to BuzzFeed News that the media executive’s team is setting up an interview with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (aka Prince Harry and Meghan Markle), following reports that the royal couple planned to “threaten” the Queen with the promise of a tell-all interview.
In an email Monday, Winfrey’s chief spokesperson and executive vice president of communications and strategy at the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), Nicole Nichols, told BuzzFeed News that there are no discussions for an interview with Meghan and Harry.
“No, not in discussion for an interview,” she said in an email.
Members of the royal family met today to talk logistics about the duke and duchess’s plan to “step down” as senior members, a decision that would allow them to split their time between Canada and the UK and live without taxpayer funding.
On Sunday, the day before the “summit,” reports began to circulate that Meghan and Harry had been in communication with Winfrey and several major US television networks and planned to use the threat of a no-holds-barred interview to influence the Queen into allowing them to step down under favorable terms.
BuzzFeed News has reached out to the Sun, NBC News, CBS News, ABC News, and representatives for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex for comment.
According to UK tabloid the Sun, which featured the story on its front page, a “royal source” said that the Sussexes’ team was reaching out to Winfrey and major US media networks to “explore the possibilities of a sit-down warts-and-all interview” to use as leverage for exit discussions.
“Perhaps Harry and Meghan will use this as a negotiating tactic as there is no way the royals want their dirty laundry out in the open. Maybe they will get more money if they agree not to talk,” the paper reported.
When the Queen released a statement agreeing to the Sussexes’ plan — with the caveat that there are “complex matters for [the] family to resolve” within the next few days — a number of people on Twitter cited the story as the reason, concluding that the Queen would only have made such a decision under threat.
“Personally, I couldn’t give a shit what Harry and Meghan do, but to blackmail your 93-year-old grandma would be the lowest of the low,” said one person, linking to the Sun story.
Earlier Monday, Prince William and Prince Harry issued a rare joint statement condemning an “offensive and harmful” newspaper report about their relationship.
Winfrey’s denial of interview discussions with Sussexes comes three days after CBS News shut down widespread reports that Winfrey’s friend Gayle King was planning to “grill” the couple in an exclusive interview of her own.
“Gayle says she has had absolutely no conversations with Meghan & Harry (or their representatives) about doing an interview with them,” the network said in a statement.
This is the second time since Harry and Meghan’s announcement that Winfrey — who was a guest at the Sussexes wedding in May 2018 — has spoken out against reports linking her to the royal couple’s actions.
On Friday, following stories claiming that the TV legend had “encouraged” the couple to consider living in America and build their own brand in an attempt to become independent, Winfrey issued a statement denying any involvement in the Sussexes’ decision.
“Meghan and Harry do not need my help figuring out what’s best for them,” Oprah told BuzzFeed News. “I care about them both and support whatever decisions they make for their family.”
And last week, former US president and first lady Barack and Michelle Obama denied widespread reports that they were advising the royal couple on how to find “huge commercial success without actually looking like they are getting their hands dirty, to put it bluntly, and retaining their popularity.”
“There’s no truth to it,” an Obama spokesperson told People magazine Friday. “Rumors of them having anything to do with this are totally false. The former president and first lady are not advising the couple and have not been in contact with them.”