Oprah Winfrey has been a master of her interviewing craft for decades so sitting down with the disaffected Sussexes for a tell-all about life beyond the royal fish-bowl

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle sitting in chairs in a garden facing Oprah Winfrey

It was the “what!” that was heard around the world.

It had just enough genuine astonishment to mirror our own quiet, breathless shock, and just enough cunning theatricality to make the moment land, hard.

And there was a pause. A nice, long pause. That always helps, too.

Oprah Winfrey has been a master of her interviewing craft for decades so sitting down with the disaffected Sussexes for a tell-all about life beyond the royal fish-bowl was always going to be as easy as brunch for her.

Add to this, the accepted trust held between celebrities and the warm Southern Californian vibe of a couple of neighbours meeting up for a heart-felt chat at a staggeringly gorgeous home, and the result was a guaranteed smash.

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Meghan Markle said someone in the palace aired concerns about her dark her son’s skin would be.

A smash to the tune of 50 million viewers and counting worldwide, and several million dollars to Winfrey’s production company.

What the Duke and Duchess got out of it is yet to be fully understood, but like Harry’s mother before him, he clearly knows the value of a truth-bomb, a mic-drop and a walk-off.

Will the great beast survive?

Did you ever see the kids movie series How to Train Your Dragon? In the second film, an old, monstrous and huge dragon — the undisputed alpha-leader of all the dragons — comes under attack and as it succumbs to the final blows, it roars and thrashes and bellows hot fire as it struggles in vain, finally crashing to the ground, its death-throes terrifying, dangerous and pitiable all at the same time.

That’s the image I can’t get out of my mind as I witness this new chapter in the enthralling social and political history that is the modern monarchy’s epic, decades-long fight to survive.

The wounded beast is thrashing wildly and lashing out for its survival with its tabloid-backgrounding and expert counter-spinning, briefed and aided by phalanxes of London PR firms and even more expensive London lawyers.

It is an awesome sight.

The crown has relied on an accident of history that put this family, rather than that family on the throne, on a power relationship of convenience with the Church of England, and on the persistence of a whole lot of magical thinking about who these mere Englishmen and women really are.

So its battle is truly a mortal one, expertly called by its abdicating Prince as one that depends on the succour of the UK tabloids for its very survival.

Prince Charles, Camilla, the Queen, Meghan Markle, Prince Harry, Prince William and Duchess Catherine stand on a balcony

The crown has relied on an accident of history that put this family, rather than that family on the throne.

They’re terrified, says Harry, of these small papers. One word of doubt from them — and it’s all over.

Will the great beast survive?

Escape truly seems like the only sensible step

One of my favourite comfort reads — the book you idly pick up over summer, or when bored or unwell for a fun, easy read — is the scarifying social history penned by former Vanity Fair and New Yorker editor Tina Brown, The Diana Chronicles.

In it she writes, in pitiless detail, of the complex hereditary system that operated to keep a badly educated and traumatised young woman completely in the dark about the family and situation she had married into; of the web of great houses and families of the English aristocracy that conspired to keep a Prince’s romantic secrets and gradually drive a young princess pretty close to madness.

It’s a system that seems pretty miserable for all of them, really. Escape truly appears like the only sensible step.

I was reminded of the book as this new round of tale and counter-tale spilled across the world, only proving yet again the truth of Tolstoy’s maxim about unhappy families.

When that family has somehow managed to turn itself into a powerful, secretive and largely unaccountable institution that depends for its existence on faith, sentiment and a fair bit of public funding the struggle to survive, like that of our wounded, bellowing dragon, might take quite a few down with it.

This weekend you can go further into the sad relationship of the Windsor brothers, and you can walk among the dying snow gums of the high country and the once-flooded lands of Japan’s tsunami zone. We have many remembrances for you right now.

Have a safe and happy weekend. This is my radio mate Sammy J’s take on the royal fiasco but be careful — you can do your back with this much hereditary privilege.

Youtube Stretch out with some Royal Family Yoga

You’ll need a good shakeout after all that. Try this.

There’s a little lyric in here about having “lighter skin” that hits you hard after this week … and a language warning too … shhh!

Go well.

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