Harry Did the Oprah Tell-All as "Revenge" for This One Thing, Say Sources
"It all came down to a confluence of events that blew up everything," an insider said.
When Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan sat down for their headline-making interview with Oprah Winfrey in March, their long list of grievances and allegations against the Royal Family shocked the world. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex discussed claims of racism within "The Institution" and the mental cruelty they allegedly suffered that became the final straw in their decision to leave, but sources say those issues were not reason that Harry decided to spill so much royal tea. "Of course they wanted to get their side of the story out and have the world know how much they suffered living life behind Palace walls, but in the end, it was not what made the duke ultimately decide doing the interview was a good idea," a source told Best Life. "There was a very specific reason the duke decided to go ahead and talk to Oprah." Harry reportedly agreed go forward with the interview with Winfrey less than 24 hours after learning a decision had been made that was "deeply hurtful" to him and may have sent him on a course seeking "revenge" against the royals. Read on to find out why Harry decided to share explosive secrets about the Royal Family with Winfrey, the aftershocks of which continue to reverberate today.
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It was the news that Harry would lose his remaining military titles that sources say compelled him to agree to do the Oprah interview.
This week, multiple news outlets in the U.K. reported that after Harry was told he would be stripped of his remaining military titles, his anger led him to agree to sit down with Winfrey. On Friday, Feb. 12, it was announced that Queen Elizabeth decided to strip her grandson of three important roles: Captain General Royal Marines (which he inherited from his late grandfather, Prince Philip); Honorary Air Commandant of RAF Honington; and Commodore-in-Chief Small Ships and Diving, Royal Naval Command. The Queen made the decision weeks before the terms of the Megxit agreement, including the topic of Harry's military titles, were scheduled to be up for a one-year review.
"Harry and Meghan were very cross before Oprah because the final Megxit separation had just been signed off, which included Harry not keeping military roles. That was what made him so angry," a source told The Sun. "He's very emotional and his military roles were very important to him given that he served." The outlet reported that the couple agreed to talk to Winfrey that weekend and taped their sit down at the start of the following week just as Prince Philip was admitted to the hospital on Feb. 16. The bombshell interview aired March 7.
The Daily Mail reported the prince was furious after learning he was going to lose his military affiliations, after serving for 10 years, including two tours in Afghanistan. Royal expert Richard Fitzwilliams told the outlet the Queen's decision to take back the titles would have likely left Harry feeling "extremely angry" and may have led him to seek "revenge." Fitzwilliams said: "There is no doubt that Harry valued his patronages terribly and there's absolutely no doubt that if you look at [the Oprah interview] as a probable revenge."
Harry reportedly could not accept that he would not be permitted to be a "half in, half out" royal.
In early February, before any official announcement was made, Best Life reported that the Queen would not give Harry back the titles he'd lost in 2020 when he and Meghan stepped back from royal life and departed for America. At the time, royal insiders told Best Life the decision about Harry's military titles was one of the most important issues that remained unresolved and could revive the same bitter feelings that arose during their original Megxit negotiations with the Queen, Prince Charles, and Prince William in early 2020. Ahead of the one-year review of the agreement, the duke's publicly known determination to regain the titles raised concerns within the Palace before the Sussexes' scheduled virtual meeting with Her Majesty.
Some of Harry's friends told the Daily Telegraph in early February that the Duke of Sussex would "fight" to regain his military affiliations, despite agreeing to give them up as part of the original agreement, albeit reluctantly. In a swift response, senior royal aides told the Daily Mail that the Palace had no plans to agree to Harry's demands. "The view is very clear—either you are in or you are out," a Palace aide told the outlet. "Any form of 'hybrid' role is incompatible with representing the head of state."
When the final decision was made to strip Harry of the titles, he was reportedly devastated. "There was never any chance the Queen would allow Harry to be a 'half-in, half-out royal,' but he could not accept that," one source told Beset Life. "It's obvious [Harry's] hurt, disappointment, and anger over the Queen's decision stayed with all throughout that 'trial period.' Winfrey was said to be courting the couple for a long time in hopes of getting an interview and it all came down to a confluence of events that blew up everything."
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The loss of his military titles fueled Harry's anger about another conflict, sources say.
The new reports about how the loss of Harry's military titles led him to agree to an interview with Winfrey come at the same time the Daily Mail revealed the real reason Charles will reportedly remove the opportunity for his grandson, Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, to receive the title of "prince." It has been widely reported that, when he ascends the throne, Charles is intent on a "slimmed-down" monarchy, limiting the number of key roles because he believes the British public no longer wants to pay for lesser royals.
The Daily Mail reports a source close to the Sussexes said Charles has told Harry and Meghan that he plans to change the legal documents that would cause Archie (and now their daughter, Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor) to not get the title he would have previously inherited by right. Charles' plan has been subjected to much speculation and it has been reported that when he becomes King, only heirs to the throne and their immediate families will receive titles, financial support from the Sovereign Grant, and security paid for by the British taxpayers. The Daily Mail reported that the decision "incensed" the Sussexes and was believed by several sources to have added fuel to the fire of the couple's already fractured relationship with the Prince of Wales.
A source told Best Life the loss of any possibility of their children becoming titled royals has "really stung" the Sussexes because they decided not to use the lesser, technically correct title of the Earl of Dumbarton out of concern Archie would be bullied about the somewhat awkward name, not knowing their son may not inherit the title of prince when Charles became King.
"It's quite ironic that Harry and Meghan are so upset about titles being taken away," said the insider. "At the very first appearance the prince made after stepping down, he said, 'Call me Harry' and yet Meghan used her title on the front of her children's book. When Archie was born, the couple was said to not want a title for their son because they wanted him to have 'a normal life,' but it was actually because they didn't like the one he was entitled to. Now we learn that their biggest issues with the Palace was all about titles."
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Some insiders believe another battle over titles may happen in the future.
In May, the Daily Mail reported that Palace aides were calling on Harry and Meghan to give up their titles as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex after what they considered the prince's latest "disgraceful" attack on the Royal Family during his interview on theArmchair Expert podcast. According to the outlet, they were "particularly incensed" by Harry's stunning criticism of his father's parenting style, which he described as the result of a cycle of "genetic pain and abuse," thus indirectly criticizing his grandparents as well. One aide told the Daily Mail: "People are appalled that he could do this to the Queen when the Duke of Edinburgh is barely in his grave. To drag his grandfather into this is so shocking and disrespectful."
After the Duke of Edinburgh's funeral, sources told Best Life, "The [British] public is very much with the Royal Family [over the conflicts with the Sussexes]. Harry and Meghan may have pushed things too far. This is a family who always close ranks in a crisis. The Sussexes may find themselves cast out for good."
That sentiment has only grown stronger over time. "It may not happen now or even tomorrow, but it's no longer impossible to imagine [Harry and Meghan] losing their titles in a complete break between them and the Royal Family," said a source. "People are not expecting the Queen to do anything towards that, but when Charles becomes King everything could change dramatically."
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Diane Clehane is a New York-based journalist and author of Imagining Diana and Diana: The Secrets of Her Style.