Queen Elizabeth II is making a televised address as part of Commonwealth Day celebrations.
A few hours later, Prince Harry and Meghan’s “no subject off limits” interview with Oprah Winfrey airs.
Royal watchers are bracing for drama.
How can I watch it in Australia?
Oprah With Meghan And Harry: A CBS Primetime Special will air on Channel 10 at 7:30pm on Monday.
You’ll also be able to watch it on Channel 10’s digital platform, 10 play.
CBS will play the interview in the US at 8:00pm Eastern Time — that will be 1:00am in London and midday AEDT.
So there will be probably be a lot of chatter about it on social media and hot takes from royal commentators to scroll through before you can watch it.
As for the Queen’s Commonwealth Message, that’ll be aired on ABC TV and ABC News 24 at 4:00am ADET on Monday.
But that won’t be the BBC One’s entire Celebration for Commonwealth Day special— it’s just the Queen’s speech, which will probably go for five to 10 minutes.
What do we know already?
We’re going to be hearing more from Meghan than Prince Harry in the interview.
Here’s how CBS has described it:
“Winfrey will speak with Meghan … covering everything from stepping into life as a royal, marriage, motherhood, philanthropic work, to how she is handling life under intense public pressure.
“Later, the two are joined by Prince Harry as they speak about their move to the United States and their future hopes and dreams for their expanding family.”
Winfrey said there was “no subject that’s off limits” in the interview.
On Friday CBS This Morning aired a clip with the pair discussing Winfrey’s call to Meghan to ask for an interview prior to her wedding.
In 2018, the duchess told Winfrey “it’s not the right time”.
But Meghan said “so many things” had changed since then.
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) March 5, 2021
At the beginning of last year, Harry and Meghan announced they were stepping back as senior Royals on social media, with the couple’s resignation as working Royals being formalised last month.
“We [now] have the ability to make our own choices in a way that I couldn’t have said yes to you then — that wasn’t my choice to make,” Meghan said.
“So, as an adult who lived a really independent life to then go into this construct that is … different than I think what people imagine it to be … it’s really liberating to be able to have the right and the privilege, in some ways, to be able to say ‘yes I’m ready to talk’.
A few days ago, another preview clip featured the duchess being asked how she felt about the palace hearing her speak out.
“I don’t know how they could expect that after all of this time we would still just be silent if there’s an active role that The Firm is playing in perpetuating falsehoods about us,” she replied.
Meghan and Prince Harry have had a rocky relationship with the tabloid press in the UK, which may have made them reluctant to give a tell-all interview with British media.
Winfrey is very much outside the British media bubble, which Finding Freedom co-author Omid Scobie told Slate probably sparked fear in the Royal household.
“The couple sat down with someone in an uncontrolled environment that the Royal family has no influence over and there’s nothing they can do to stop the interview from airing,” he said.
The Queen and Buckingham Palace “do not have an advance copy” of the interview, according to British newspaper The Mirror.
Winfrey is also a friend to the pair.
She was a guest at their wedding and has publicly backed the couple’s decision to leave the royal life behind.
“I support them 1,000 per cent,” Winfrey told TMZ last year.
“[Prince Harry] did what he needed to do for his family.”
It’s making big bucks … for some
American broadcaster CBS is paying a licencing fee of between $US7 and $US9 million ($9 and $11.7 million) to air the interview, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.
The newspaper said Winfrey’s media company Harpo Productions also pitched the interview to NBC and Disney.
CBS is reportedly charging $US325,000 ($422,000) for 30-second ads during the broadcast.
However, it doesn’t sound like the Sussexes are in it for the money.
A spokeswoman for Prince Harry and Meghan told the Wall Street Journal the couple were not being compensated for the interview.
Why is the Queen making a speech?
This is part of the annual Commonwealth Day celebrations.
Commonwealth Day is usually celebrated on the second Sunday in March and the Queen delivers a Commonwealth Day message every year.
But usually it’s a church service livestreamed by the BBC rather than being a massive television special.
There was a lot of focus on the service last year as it was Prince Harry and Meghan’s last Royal engagement — you may remember an iconic green dress worn by a certain someone:
Here’s what the Commonwealth Day website says:
Each year, there is usually a service held at Westminster Abbey to mark Commonwealth Day.
However, due to the pandemic, no service will be held this year.
Instead Her Majesty The Queen will deliver her annual message in ‘A Celebration for Commonwealth Day’, which will be broadcast on Sunday 7 March on BBC ONE in the UK.
Don’t expect the Queen to speak about Harry and Meghan though.
“So [as] the Royal Family always like to say, it’s business as usual,” Majesty magazine editor-in-chief Ingrid Seward said.
“I think that the Royal Family will just ignore this publicly.
“And I think that’s probably the only thing they can do. These interviews have always had a habit of going wrong.”
Royal A-team to assemble
But it’s not just the Queen who’ll be making an appearance in the BBC One broadcast.
Commonwealth Day website promises an all-star cast:
TRH The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and The Countess of Wessex will also take part in the programme, sharing their perspectives on the importance of our Commonwealth links.
So that’s Prince Charles, Camilla, Prince William, Kate and Prince Edward’s wife Sophie.
The Royal family members were part of the Commonwealth Day celebrations in the past, but only as important guests at the church service.
They’ll be taking on bigger roles this year, appearing in segments of the BBC One special.
This is being interpreted as the Royals putting on a united front in the face of a potentially explosive interview by Meghan and Prince Harry.
Timing is everything
The fact that the Commonwealth Day celebrations will take the form of a TV special that will air a few hours before the Oprah interview has been interpreted by some outlets as less-than-coincidental, with some questioning whether the clash was a deliberate overshadowing attempt by the palace.
However, the Queen was always going to be making an address of some kind on Commonwealth Day.
And the date for the broadcast was decided weeks before word of the Oprah special got out according to Vanity Fair, with Buckingham Palace reportedly “blindsided” by the announcement.
But adding fuel to the fire was the announcement that Prince Harry and Megan had been stripped of their Royal patronages after confirming to the Queen that they would not be returning as working Royals.
Then The Times newspaper reported that Meghan had faced a bullying complaint from a close adviser during her time living at Kensington Palace with Prince Harry.
In response, Buckingham Palace said it was launching an investigation into the allegations.
People are reading a lot into the timing of this investigation as an attempt to discredit Megan ahead of the interview.
However, it could also be argued that CBS timing the interview so it airs one year after the couple’s last official Royal engagement just makes sense from an editorial point of view.
It wraps things up nicely, but the idea that it’s a petty clash also adds an element of drama that’s certainly drumming up a lot of interest.