Oprah Winfrey‘s blockbuster interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on Sunday, jam-packed with jaw-dropping claims of racism in Britain’s royal family and the duchess’ thoughts of suicide, could prove to be a ratings bonanza approaching Super Bowl levels, or even surpassing them.
During the highly-anticipated two-hour conversation with Oprah, the couple painted a deeply unflattering picture of life inside the royal household, depicting a cold, uncaring institution they had to flee to save their lives.
Meghan, who is currently pregnant with her second child, a girl, told Oprah that at one point ‘I just didn’t want to be alive anymore’ and that she had uncontrollable suicidal thoughts. She said she sought help through the palace’s human resources department but was told there was nothing they could do.
CBS on Sunday aired Oprah Winfrey’s explosive interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, which could net ratings on par with the Super Bowl
The wide-ranging two-hour special covered Meghan’s thoughts of suicide during her first pregnancy and claims of racism within the royal family
According to an article published by The Sunday Times ahead of the broadcast, the interview is to royals watchers what the Super Bowl in February was to football fans. This year’s big game, in which the Tampa Bay Buccaneers trounced the Kansas City Chiefs drew a total audience of 96.4 million viewers, the lowest rating in nearly 15 years.
In the UK, where the Oprah interview with Harry and Meghan will be aired on ITV on Monday night, it is expected to draw an audience of more than 10million viewers, surpassing the ratings for the finale of the UK version of the popular celebrity singing competition The Masked Singer, which became the most-watched broadcast on TV this year.
‘I think people believe that this will be the first time they are hearing from Meghan and Harry as themselves and not in a certain role where they need to be given speaking points or what not,’ Myka Meier, a royal analyst, told the Times before the interview aired in the US.
Over the course of her boundary-breaking career in the news and entertainment industry spanning more than four decades, Oprah has interviewed some of the highest-profile figures in the world.
She famously sat down for a confessional chat with Michael Jackson in 1993, an interview which saw 90million worldwide viewers tune in, making it the fourth-highest total in entertainment television history.
In the UK, where the Oprah interview with Harry and Meghan will be aired on ITV on Monday night, it is expected to draw an audience of more than 10million
In February, Super Bowl LV, in which the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Kansas City Chiefs, drew a total audience of 96.4 million viewers, the lowest rating in nearly 15 years
Newspapers are placed on the ground placed by a television crew in front of Buckingham Palace in London on Monday
It is important to note that at the time of Oprah’s sitdown with the King of Pop there were only four broadcast networks in the US and no streaming services to draw away segments of the viewing audience.
In 2013 she quizzed disgraced drug cheat cyclist Lance Armstrong, who finally came clean about his years of doping.
And it was Winfrey’s couch Tom Cruise jumped on during a taping of The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2005 to proclaim his love for Katie Holmes.
The Harry and Meghan CBS interview was not Winfrey’s first brush with royalty.
Harry’s aunt, Sarah, Duchess of York, has also been interviewed by the talk show queen, and Oprah was among the guests at Harry and Meghan’s wedding at Windsor in 2018.
Oprah’s 1993 interview with Michael Jackson drew an audience of 90million viewers worldwide – fourth-highest total in entertainment television history
Oprah has repeatedly interviewed Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, including in 2010
During the wide-ranging conversation, Meghan, 39, admitted that she was naive at the start of her relationship with Harry and unprepared for the strictures of royal life.
The former television star, who identifies as biracial, said that when she was pregnant with son, Archie, there were ‘concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born.’
Harry confirmed the conversation, saying: ‘I was a bit shocked.’ He said he would not reveal who made the comment, but told Oprah behind the scenes that it not Queen Elizabeth II, nor Prince Phillip, who is 99 years old and currently in a London hospital after undergoing a heart procedure.
The pair, known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, announced they were quitting royal duties last year, citing what they said were the unbearable intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media.
That split, dubbed by the press as ‘Megxit,’ became official earlier this year, and the interview was widely seen as their first opportunity to explain their decision.