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09 March 2021

How the world reacted to Harry and Meghan’s interview: support for the Queen while White House praises couple’s courage

09 March 2021

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s Oprah Winfrey interview has sparked reaction from politicians, celebrities and the media across the globe.

The two-hour special was broadcast in the US in the early hours of Monday and on British TV on Monday evening, with the Sussexes covering mental health struggles, their wedding and their relationship with the royal family.

It was also broadcast across the world including in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Brazil, and much of Europe.

Former Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull said the interview bolstered his argument for Australia severing its constitutional ties to the British monarchy.

He told ABC TV on Tuesday that the country’s head of state should be an Australian citizen, not the king or queen of the UK.

He added: “It’s clearly an unhappy family, or at least Meghan and Harry are unhappy. It seems very sad.”

Mr Turnbull said that the Queen had been an “extraordinary” head of state, and added: “I think, frankly, in Australia, there are more Elizabethans than there are monarchists.

Malcolm Turnbull (PA Archive)

“After the end of the Queen’s reign, that is the time for us to say – OK, we’ve passed that watershed and do we really want to have whoever happens to be head of state, the king or queen of the UK, automatically our head of state?”

An analysis on Australia’s ABC news said that while the royal family had suffered setbacks before, the allegations levelled by Harry and Meghan “run deeper”.

It addressed what it identified as the key claim: “Mainly, that the royal family is implicitly racist.

“In the UK, America and across Commonwealth nations – including in Australia – it’s an allegation that may not shock, but it will stick. And for many it will hurt.

“Now, it’s not about how the monarchy defends itself against the claim, if it chooses to do so at all, but what it does to recover from it.”

New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern said she had not sensed an appetite for “significant change” to the country’s constitutional arrangements.

Jacinda Ardern and the Prince of Wales (PA Archive)

When asked if the picture painted of the royal family in the interview had given her pause, she said: “I’ve said before that, you know, I’ve not sensed an appetite from New Zealanders for significant change in our constitutional arrangements, and I don’t expect that that’s likely to change quickly from New Zealanders.”

In the US, White House press secretary Jen Psaki praised Harry and Meghan’s courage when asked if US president Joe Biden had watched the interview.

Ms Psaki told journalists on Monday: “For anyone to come forward and speak about their own struggles with mental health and tell their own personal story, that takes courage.

“That’s certainly something the president believes.”

New York Times critic Salamishah Tillet wrote that the interview showed Harry was becoming “more clear-eyed, confrontational and emboldened to take on the British monarchy into which he was born and the white privilege that holds it up and has benefited him his entire life”.

In a statement on Twitter, tennis star Serena Williams described the duchess as her “selfless friend” who “teaches me every day what it means to be truly noble”.

Asma Sultan, a journalist in Karachi, Pakistan, said the interview “is going to tarnish the image of the royal family”.

She added: “There is so much controversy ever since Diana’s death, so it is a new Pandora’s box which is opened up.”

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