BACK STORY with DANA LEWIS

ROYAL FIRESTORM

March 10, 2021 Dana Lewis Season 3 Episode 18
BACK STORY with DANA LEWIS
ROYAL FIRESTORM
Chapters
BACK STORY with DANA LEWIS
ROYAL FIRESTORM
Mar 10, 2021 Season 3 Episode 18
Dana Lewis

On this special edition of Back Story Dana Lewis talks to guest Nigel Nelson, a former Royals reporter, and Jo Phillips a British TV Commentator about the Royal scandal of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. 

Show Notes Transcript

On this special edition of Back Story Dana Lewis talks to guest Nigel Nelson, a former Royals reporter, and Jo Phillips a British TV Commentator about the Royal scandal of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. 

Speaker 1:

[inaudible]

Speaker 2:

Hi everyone. And welcome to this special Royals edition of backstory. I'm Dana Lewis. What a scandal, Megan Markle tells Oprah. She was the victim of racism in the palace, and no one helped her with thoughts of suicide. She was no Diana, but her husband, Prince Harry says the British media is bigoted, and he moved to America to protect his family. The queen statement, the whole family is set and to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Megan , the issues raised particularly that of race are concerning. While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately on this backstory. Why did Megan and Harry try to take down the Royal family claiming they wanted privacy, but airing their grievances in the most public way possible.

Speaker 1:

Nice .

Speaker 3:

Jill Nelson is fleet Street's longest serving political editor and now heads up politics for the Sunday mirror and Sunday people. He appears regularly on TV, reviewing newspapers and was remarkably and notably a Royal correspondent for the daily mail. I Nigel welcome.

Speaker 1:

Hi Donna

Speaker 3:

And Joe Phillips , uh, is a well-known commentator across Britain and appears on programs like the BBC.

Speaker 1:

Hi Joe . Hi Dana .

Speaker 3:

Look, first of all, just your initial blush on this story. I mean, it is created a firestorm Nigel. I can start with you , uh, in Britain and now the palace has said tonight that , um, they are going to handle this.

Speaker 1:

Yes. And I'm not sure that's the best way of doing it because , um, um, there were two allegations from the opera Winfrey interview that really do need looking at carefully. One is the, is the allegation of racism within the Royal household. And the second one is , uh, in a sense , perhaps , um, even more serious is that , uh, Meghan , Claire , uh, when she asked for help for her mental health issue, that was refused because it wouldn't look good. Now I think those two are key. Um, I mean , if you go back a bit to , uh, princess Don , his bombshell interview, we didn't get anything like this. This was actually talking about what goes on in the Royal household and about somebody like Meghan, who felt completely an utterly unsupported and the idea of actually dealing with the whole thing internally, I'm not sure is really the answer. Um, I think there be investigation. It can't be a , a public one as such, but I do think that the results of it should be made now ,

Speaker 3:

Joe, you know, the statement from the policy says that they'll recollections may Berry , what do you read into that?

Speaker 4:

Well, I think they're trying to avoid getting into a, he said, she said, I mean, you know, it has always said that we are the Americans , um, you know, are divided by a common language. We don't know, we weren't there. Megan fit clearly feels upset, slighted. Um, she was very unhappy whether or not this is the right way to go about airing your grievances. So publicly is a different question. Um, but I think what the Royal family are trying to say is we, we take this seriously. We're going to investigate it. You know, it may not be, as she said, but they're not accusing her of lying. Um, but I think what they're trying to do is to close it down because in the end, although, as Nigel says, this raises very serious issues about, you know , the country's number one public family and its institution. It is fundamentally a family matter that has been given huge, great publicity, thanks to them.

Speaker 3:

Well, it's not really a family matter, is it Nigel ? I mean, the queen is the head of state and this is an institution that is supported by the British people. And if there is, if there is a lack of compassion towards somebody that may be suicidal. And indeed, if there is traction in this allegation, racist allegation that somebody asked her , uh, asked Harry , uh , about the color of the skin of the baby, how Brown it would be. Um, that's a matter affecting really all of Britain, is it not?

Speaker 1:

Yes, I think it is because these, these are allegations, which I don't think can be swept under the carpet. And Joe's right. That really is what the palace would like to do. And again, you are right that the Royal family is funded by the British taxpayer , um, directly to the tune of 67 million pounds. But it may be up to about 340 billion pounds when you take in all the various other things like , uh , the protection that they need, the security surrounding them , uh, the cost of that , uh, the cost of some of their homes, which is born by the public purse. I'd also things like the land that they've inherited that the public could actually benefit from, which is the Duchy of Lancaster or the Duchy of Cornwall. And they bring in some , uh , something like 18 80 million pounds. So yes, I think that the, the British taxpayer has a stake in this and therefore , uh , that is why any investigation must be seen to be done properly. And the only way of what way that is going to happen is if the results of that are known , we're not asking them to start about private route. We're talking about centrally to particular allegations, which I think need to be dealt with properly.

Speaker 3:

Is this the unfair part of that interview where, you know , she came out and didn't want to inherit wouldn't name, who made this comment about, you know , questioning the color of the skin of the baby yet to be born? Is it unfair in so far that it completely was a scatter gun on every single member of the Royal family, making the entire Royal family out, look racist aside from the fact that Oprah then clarified that it wasn't the, it wasn't the queen?

Speaker 4:

Well, I , I have to say that Oprah Winfrey , uh , I know she's got a huge following, but there were lots of questions she didn't ask. Um, and she didn't ask, you know, what was the context of that conversation? You know, if you're not going to say who it is, then why say it at all? Um, because as you say, all you're doing is you're , besmirching everybody. And you know, there's huge speculation about who might've said it, who could have said it, but we don't know whether it was somebody saying, gosh, I wonder if the baby is going to have ginger hair like hairy or, you know, dark hair like Megan. I mean, we, we weren't there, we've only got Megan's word for it. Harry's word for it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. I think, I , I think I , I agree with that, that , um, I think it would have made things worse. Had Harry named the individual who was involved , um, uh, as Joe says, you don't , you don't any have Meghan and Harry's word for it. And also one assumes that it was somebody actually close to Harry E but he didn't want to hurt. And bear in mind that the interview that they gave you has certainly heard every member of the Royal family or not .

Speaker 3:

And what is the cost of that? I mean, somebody asked me today, you know, could this be, could this lead to the end of the Royals? I mean, I think that's ridiculous. Um, it will blow over probably not for years to come. Uh , they will weather this storm. Like they have many others, but is there a price here? I mean, this, this has been a devastating interview.

Speaker 4:

There is, there is a price in the same way there was after the Diana interview and then in the , the queen and the Royal family's reaction to Diana's death, which was broadly seen as not what the public expected. Um, but it will blow over eventually the problem is that by making it so very, very public, it's made it extremely difficult for , um, Harry and Megan , um, to come back into any other way, whether they come back for , um, I think they're coming back for something later this year , um, or their schedule he's definitely scheduled to come back for something led to this year. And, you know, they're all going to be state funerals to attend. There are going to be weddings and christenings and things like that. And you know, that they've created such a schism at the moment that it seems very difficult as to how they can mend that.

Speaker 3:

I would like both your perspective on, you know, the, the Princeton and mega Mark, Meghan Markle of privacy. I mean, they , they talk about privacy, leave us alone. Uh, and yet they , they seek out press when it benefits them, benefits them financially as well. Um, and in this case they have erred more dirty laundry on Oprah than any Royal I think has ever talked about. So there's a , there's a huge cavernous contradiction Nigel .

Speaker 1:

Yeah . So the , I think it probably is that , that they were complaining a lot during the interview about press intrusion and obviously , um, they were then opening their lives up to , to the whole world. Uh, they think they've got a great , and the only way that they can deal with that is to make it public. Um, as far as the damage goes, I mean, we'll have to see over the next few days, whether , uh , Meghan and Harry are more damaged by doing this than the Royal family, or maybe it will be, it will be both equally. I think I tend to think that in the long run, it will make no difference because , uh , those people who want , uh , the United Kingdom to become a Republic will still want it to become a Republic. And those who don't won't , uh, it gives, it gives sort of some ammunition to the Republican. I'm, I'm a , a monocast, but I'm not a royalist. And nothing about the interview with Oprah Winfrey has changed my position. What does that mean? It means that I believe that we should have the queen or the Monarch as head of state, because I think that it's constitutionally really important for this country. I'm no great fan of the Royal family as such. And so I wouldn't mind seeing say a slimmed down Royal family, one that cost a bit less. Um, but I do believe that it's really important for the stability of the United Kingdom to have the Monarch head of state. Now, our entire constitution has come about by evolution, unlike say, America, France, or Russia, which K , which came about by revolution. And as a result, we have a certain stupidity. Now, if you change all that, we'd end up with an elected president, which would sit really uncomfortably with a parliamentary democracy. You could go the Irish route and have a purely ceremonial president and still maintain your parliamentary democracy. But then in that sense, that's what the queen is. That's what we've got. We've got a ceremonial head of state.

Speaker 3:

Is there any serious talk of this? I'm so sorry, Joel , I'm going to come back to you in a sec. Is there any serious talk of this? I mean, monarchists versus the royalist vision of , uh , of a , a new United Kingdom. I mean, do you, is this conversation in the context of this interview and these horrid lurid allegations by Megan D does it pave that road?

Speaker 1:

Well, I don't think it does because as I was saying earlier, I think that if you're a Republican , uh , you will be you'll carry on being a Republican and it won't change your view just in the same sense. If you're a monarchist, it won't change your view. But yes, the truth is it does open up the debate. The debates been going on for years about whether or not we should have , um, have a monarchy and it kind of splits down by age and politics. So you're more likely to have Republican sympathy if you're younger. And if you are on the left rather than the right and the early opinion polls bring justice, what this does do is open up the whole debate. And it's one thing that the , um, the British establishment has always wanted to close down. This debate is opened up over a form of the house of Lords. You could argue that , uh , an unelected opera opera house doesn't sit well in it, but one of the reasons that reformed the house of Lords has never really happened is because if you did set that could in itself threaten the bond of cake . So there's a view amongst politicians that the status quo is the best thing to have, but yes, this debate will go on,

Speaker 3:

Joe , why did she do it? And why did Harry do it? I mean, coming back to that question, people say that, you know, with , uh , a velvet knife, they, you know, they struck the heart of, of the, of the queen and the palace. Do you think she was trying to get even, or , I mean, is she a victim or is she a very , uh, very clever , um, and, and some would say nasty piece of work.

Speaker 4:

Um, I think if you put it in the context of here was a woman in her mid thirties who had been by all accounts, a fairly successful actress. She'd been married before she'd lived her own life. She'd run her own career quite successfully. She wasn't the sort of ingenue that princess Diana was. Um, so she came into it being one assumes a bit more worldly wise. I think part of the problem is the, you know, that she, she's not British. Um, and I think that is a bigger problem than anybody recognized, because I think, you know, there are things that we say, you know, you know, Nitel knows . Um, and as I said at the beginning, you know, we're divided by a common language. Americans don't always get Britain. They don't always get the way we behave in , of course, you've got an institution in the Royal family, which is absolutely rigid in things. So if we, it is true as we are led to believe that, you know, Megan thought it was acceptable to accept designer clothes as freebies and was then cross when she was told, no, it's not that to me shows a degree of misunderstanding and a lack of knowledge , um, that I would have thought in a woman of her age and her capabilities, frankly, beggars belief, you know, why did she do it ?

Speaker 3:

But why? I mean, people could understand maybe why she didn't have much long-term love for the Royals, but I mean, why didn't Harry step up?

Speaker 4:

Because I think Harry is, he's absolutely smitten with her. I mean, I think he's, you know, he is probably a troubled soul. Um, but you know, as you alluded to earlier, if he had said, I don't want to be part of this, I want to go away and grow the alarm. As on a Scottish Island, that's fine to go to the other side of the Atlantic and in a Californian mansion with all the trappings of that showbiz lifestyle and the money involved and the acolytes and the deals and the agents and the PR people and everything else just seems to me to sit very uneasily with his upbringing and his upbringing and his , uh, his time in the army. I mean, he was, you know , he apparently enjoyed his time in the, in the services. Um, and he's given that all away. I mean, he has really burned his bridges. I think

Speaker 3:

This does come back to media, right? Because there was a settling of scores here with the tabloids, which they hate. And Prince Harry told Oprah that the UK media is bigoted and creates a toxic environment of control and fear. And a lot of Americans watching that, you know, asked me what is, what the British press and the tabloids and why won't they leave them alone?

Speaker 1:

Well, the reason we do that, you don't leave them alone is they're the most famous family in the world. And given that the British taxpayer funds, the , um, the British taxpayer has every right to know what they're doing, the Royals would, would rather be seeing just going around and shaking hands and opening thing . Uh , then , uh , then , then being, being looked into, and when it comes to the, to the whole business of the press, whether it's the tabloid press or anything else that this is what the Royal family is there for . It was one of the things that I thought came out , um, starting from the interview from Prince Harry, where he said, how much attention the Royal family pay to what the press is saying about them. Now, this is their job. This is what they, they they've been brought up to do. When the queen talks about Judy , it is actually showing that duty . It's actually being out there and you can't then blame the press for taking an interest in them.

Speaker 3:

But do you think that they were tougher on, on, on Megan than , than anybody else and that there is racism in UK tabloid media?

Speaker 1:

No, I don't think there's racism at all. I think there are isolated examples where , um, whether someone for a unfortunate phrasiology and some of it came out in the interview, I don't think he says, but you haven't. Britain is a free press. And on the basis of that, the press is free to express an opinion about Royal couple , um, and the ones who are good at it, get a favorable press. And that would be Prince William and Kate, and the ones who are not good at it tend not to get a real press. I mean, years ago when I was .

Speaker 3:

And where did the love affair break? Where did the love affair breakdown though? I mean, th there was this fairy tale wedding, which the world watched , um, and they welcomed the welcome Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's , you know, new love. Um, and I think that the country generally loves those two boys after what happened to Diana. Um, w where did it break down suddenly because of the father and the strange relationship?

Speaker 4:

I , I think it's because Megan thought that she could just come in and behave how she wanted to. And I think it all became , uh , you know, they had that they had a difficult relationship. I think they're using the media as a bit of a scapegoat because they don't, you know, they can't on the one hand say we hate the media whilst they're courting the media. Um, it doesn't sit with anybody easily. Um, and I think, you know, I was in Brixton in South London when they had just got engaged and they came on a , on a visit there. Um, and the streets were lined from early in the morning with huge numbers of people, all young men, women, nearly all of them black, because it's a very, very , um, black, ethnic, diverse , ethnically diverse area. But a lot of West Indian people live in that part of London, there was such an outpouring of genuine affection and genuine welcome. And I think for those people, she's turned her back on them , um, which I think is a terrible shame. And I think, you know, the fact that the queen gave her own patronage of the national theater and passed it on to Megan, which is a huge gift. I think, you know, recognizing the fact that she's an actress, she could have actually used that to do something really good about creating better diversity in the arts and the theater world. There were lots and lots of things that they could have done to address these things, but unfortunately it has become so much about her , um, that it , it, it does, it just feels uncomfortable.

Speaker 3:

Nigel, a lot of people will not see her as a victim here. And th th and, and those who do support the queen and, you know, I think the vast majority of the country , uh , feels protective of the queen feels that, you know, th they have slandered everybody in the Royal family , uh , and Megan will probably bear more of a brunt of that than , than Prince Harry. Would you agree?

Speaker 1:

Yes, I think that's , I think that's probably true. Um, although again, we'll have to see how the polls go. Younger people will actually be supporting both her and Prince Harry . And I don't think at any point that the there's been a sudden breakdown in relations between the media and the Royal family. This is an ongoing thing. So for instance, when I was a Royal correspondent Prince, the son got a really bad press. And then she, she , um, came back from that because she's the hardest working Royal. She came back from that and nowadays gets a great press. I think the same thing would have happened to Megan. Harry I'd been knuckled down. I think the press press would have actually supported them . So a lot of it is actually stuck shots. It's what you see at the time. And that is what the British public have a right to know about.

Speaker 3:

Last question to both of you. I just want to very quickly mention it to you that , uh, you know, the British press had been brawling the last two days amongst themselves, some of them, and some of that took place on television with piers Morgan. Who's a well-known host here and had hosted, you know, what was the success of the Larry King show at CNN? Um, and he basically went on television, being very protective of the Royal family and said , uh , that he didn't believe her, that it was a pathetic , um, uh , interview , um, that, that he essentially, you know, didn't believe her, even her, her statements about her suicidal thoughts and that she couldn't get help. He is now it looks like resigned , uh, and is moving on. Uh, I, I guess this is something that , uh , probably a lot of people were calling for, and they're saying that off calm, which is the media regulator had some 40,000 complaints today, one of the largest complaints they've ever had about any media. So this is a tremendously , um, you know, emotional reaction from the country. Uh , and some of them feeling very protective about making stuff .

Speaker 4:

Yeah. And if there's a contagion in that, because, you know, they're all very real issues as, as we all said, and we all agree about racism and particularly mental health. I mean, if somebody like Megan who has actively got involved in mental health charities and she, and Harry set up this scene with Kate and William in the beginning of their relationship , um , to talk about mental health.

Speaker 3:

So Harry is basically a poster boy for mental health campaign and charity. So I mean, of all the people that would know who to reach out to it , certainly both of them, both of them were . Um, but I ,

Speaker 4:

I think, you know, piers Morgan, he's not a , he's not a household name outside of Britain, I don't suppose. Um, and I'm sure he will go on to do other things, but I think, you know, it's , it's a warning to people, you know, everybody's got opinions, but sometimes you have to think very carefully about the audience and also about the thing, you know, regardless of your own personal feelings about the interview, about the couple involved, actually, when somebody says I had mental health issues, I felt suicidal and there was no one to turn to. No one has the right to say, I don't believe you.

Speaker 1:

Yep . I absolutely agree with that. What peers said was totally and utterly unacceptable. If a young woman says she has mental health , health issues , you do not rubbish rubbish on national television.

Speaker 2:

It's all about empathy and , and perception is reality. And if she felt that she was suffering, it's not for us to question that in the media, Nigel Nelson , uh , of the Sunday mirror and Sunday people and Joe Phillips television commentator, thank you both so much. And that's this backstory on one of the worst scandals about the Royal family and more than 80 years, I'm Dana Lewis. Please share this podcast. That's all we ask. Thanks for listening. And I'll talk to you again soon.