The pair had spoken on the phone when Oprah rang her after CBS anchor Gayle King had made the initial introduction.
By March 2018 when Oprah was in London they met for the first time face-to-face, with Meghan inviting her to their marriage shortly afterwards.
Now the trio will sit down for a controversial tell-all interview as the unusual courtship between Royal and broadcaster is set to make them all millions of pounds.
‘Oprah with Meghan and Harry: A CBS Primetime Special’ will be filmed over the next few days.
Meghan and Harry will be interviewed by Oprah on March 7 in a glittering TV special
Oprah Winfrey’s appearance at Meghan and Harry’s 2019 wedding revealed their friendship
It is a long way from their first meeting, reported by The Times, which happened when Oprah ‘found herself in London’ and was invited by Meghan to meet her at Kensington Palace in March.
Their only face-to-face encounter happened so far under the radar that by the time of Duke and Duchess of Sussex tied the knot St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle some were surprised when she arrived.
As Oprah took her seat on May 19, 2018, on the row alongside the likes of Serena Williams and George Clooney some Royal watchers wondered how she knew Megan and Harry.
And her brief report on the day – published of course in her own Oprah Magazine – gave little insight into any friendship.
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, in Windsor
Doria Ragland, Meghan’s mother, had enjoyed a yoga session with Oprah before the wedding
The layout of the chapel shows where Oprah was sat among other guests at the wedding
CBS broadcaster Gayle King introduced Oprah Winfrey to Meghan by phone in 2018
From me to woo: Meghan and Oprah’s friendship by years
March, 2018: Oprah ‘finds herself in London’ and was invited by Meghan to meet her at Kensington Palace.
April, 2018: Meghan’s mother Doria Ragland visits Oprah’s Promised Land mansion in Montecito, California, to eat kumquats and do yoga.
May 19, 2018: Oprah stuns Royal watchers after turning up to Harry and Meghan’s wedding with fans of uncertain how they know each other.
April, 2019: Oprah announces she would be sending Meghan and Harry’s unborn son a ‘welcome to the world’ gift of books.
April 10, 2019: Prince Harry and Meghan announce he and Oprah are to produce a mental-health series for Apple TV.
January, 2020: Oprah and Gayle King publicly back the couple after they break away from the Royal Family
May 6, 2020: A video of Meghan and Archie reading a book from Oprah is released online for Save the Children’s Save With Stories intitiative.
August, 2020: The couple move to an £11million mansion in Montecito, California, down the road from Oprah. It is denied she helped find them the home.
December 14, 2020: Oprah plugs a coffee company Meghan had invested in on her 19.3million-follower Instagram page, thanking her neighbour ‘M’.
February 15: CBS announces the Royal couple are to conduct an interview with Oprah.
She said ‘It gave us hope, that wedding’ after declaring ‘All mature beings recognised it as the beginning it was’.
Meghan was reported to have been delighted when Oprah texted her after the ceremony to offer her congratulations.
By now pictures of the veteran interviewer at the wedding had cemented them as friends in the eyes of the public.
Rumours immediately emerged they would be doing an interview, but nothing materialised with the topic never mentioned by either party.
It later emerged Meghan’s mother Doria Ragland had visited Oprah’s Promised Land mansion in Montecito, California, just three weeks earlier.
The pair spent six hours together eating kumquats and doing yoga in her garden.
What followed over the next three years was a love-in between Oprah and the Sussexes that all-but confirmed the journalist as an unofficial mentor to Meghan.
In April, 2019, and before Archie was even born, the chat show host announced she would be sending him some ‘welcome to the world’ gifts.
They were a huge collection of books, including one that would later become thrust into the public arena.
Oprah said at the time ‘I don’t know the baby’s name or the baby’s gender, but this baby will have enough books to last a lifetime.’
The same month she tapped up Prince Harry to produce a mental-health series for Apple TV
They are said to have had a number of meetings in London and was heralded by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s official Instagram account.
Some watchers believed the gesture was further evidence of Oprah’s drive to woo the couple.
Then in January last year she and King publicly backed the pair’s breakaway from the Royal family.
Out in New York one night, they told TMZ: ‘I support them 1,000 percent.
A coffee company Meghan had invested in was plugged by Oprah on her Instagram page
Royal interviews that shook the Palace
In late 2019 Prince Andrew gave a ‘no holds barred’ interview with the BBC ‘s Emily Maitlis about his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, along with claims the royal had sex with one of the billionaire paedophile’s young ‘slaves’.
‘Prince Andrew & the Epstein Scandal’ was filmed at Buckingham Palace – a sign it had Her Majesty’s approval – and was the first time the duke was grilled on his friendship with the American sexual abuser, who was found dead in his New York prison cell while awaiting trial for sex-trafficking.
Andrew – the Queen’s second son – stepped down from public life on November 20 2019, following the fallout from his disastrous Newsnight interview about his friendship with convicted sex offender Epstein.
The duke was criticised for showing a lack of empathy towards the paedophile’s victims and a lack of remorse over his friendship with the pervert.
In the interview with the BBC’s Emily Maitlis, the duke denied claims that he slept with Virginia Giuffre, who says she was trafficked by Epstein, on three separate occasions, including when she was 17, still a minor under US law.
Decades earlier, in a sensational 1995 Panorama interview, Princess Diana said there were ‘three people in my marriage’, a reference to her estranged husband’s relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles, now Duchess of Cornwall.
No one and nothing was off limits; Diana didn’t even spare her own reputation. In one gripping exchange with Mr Bashir, she admitted she had been unfaithful with Army officer James Hewitt.
‘Yes, I adored him,’ she said. ‘Yes, I was in love with him.’
For Prince Charles the examination was excoriating as his estranged, but not yet divorced, wife questioned his credentials to be king, while publicly placing Camilla Parker Bowles front and centre as the reason their marriage broke down.
‘You know why I support them? I support them because I believe, when you have thought about this as long as they have — and even in the Queen’s statement says, “This has been going on for months,” these discussions have been going on for months — and when Harry said in that charity statement the other day that he had to make the decision to move forward in peace with his new family.
‘Who doesn’t feel what that takes to make that decision to give up everything you’ve known your whole life to say I’m going to choose this new life or what I believe to be the truest vision for myself?’
Five months later Oprah’s world was featured in a video released to celebrate Archie’s birthday.
A video showing Meghan reading him Duck! Rabbit! by by Amy Krouse Rosenthal had a plug to one of her brands.
Oprah Magazine described it as ‘A subtle nod to one of the family’s biggest champions’ and confirmed the broadcaster had gifted it to them.
The book had a label on the front saying ‘Archie’s Book Club’ a version of ‘Oprah’s Book Club’ branding.
In August the couple moved to an £11million mansion in Montecito, California, down the road from her.
Then in December last year a coffee company Meghan had invested in was plugged by Oprah on her 19.3million-follower Instagram page.
She said her ‘neighbor M’ had given her a basket of the Clevr Brands goods ‘for Christmas’.
Oprah added: ‘On the first day of Christmas my neighbor “M” sent to me…a basket of deliciousness! (Yes that M) My new drink of choice for the morning and night.
‘Wish I had Clevr Blends sooner cause I would’ve added it to my Favorite Things list.’
By February 15 the conclusion of the dance between Oprah and Meghan appeared to have reached a conclusion.
It brought to an end suggestions King – who had attended the duchesses’ baby shower – would be grilling the royal pair.
Instead, her station revealed the news it would be Oprah who had scored the interview.
Details suggest a carefully chorographed chat with just Meghan about her life as a Royal and life under the public spotlight.
Harry will join later to talk about their future hopes and expanding their family, after the news they are expecting their second child.
With a running time of 90 minutes, it promises to be a lot longer than Meghan and Oprah’s first phone call three years ago.
Harry and Meghan ‘didn’t inform the Queen they were planning tell-all Oprah chat’: CBS promises ‘wide ranging’ two-part interview will begin with Duchess talking solo about her journey as a ‘royal and a mother’ before she’s joined by husband
- Duke and Duchess of Sussex are keen to avoid upsetting the Queen, sources say
- Harry and Meghan are likely to discuss why they stepped down as senior royals
- But the couple are not expected to reveal all the details that preceded ‘Megxit’
- Sussexes ‘under no obligation’ to inform Royal Family of plan, royal source says
By MARK DUELL FOR MAILONLINE
What do we know about the Oprah interview?
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will be interviewed by Oprah Winfrey in ‘Oprah With Meghan And Harry: A CBS Primetime Special’.
The programme will last 90 minutes and be broadcast in the US on March 7. It is expected to be filmed at some point this week. Details on UK transmission are not yet confirmed.
CBS said the first half of the chat will see Meghan talk about ‘stepping into life as a Royal, marriage, motherhood, philanthropic work’ and ‘handling life under intense public pressure.
The second half will then see Harry join Meghan as they speak about ‘their move to the US and their future hopes and dreams for their expanding family.’
They are expected to discuss stepping down as senior royals but are unlikely to go into all the details that preceded this, to avoid upsetting the Queen.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex did not tell the Queen in advance that they were planning a ‘tell-all’ TV interview with Oprah Winfrey – but are keen to avoid upsetting the monarch during their chat, it was claimed today.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are likely to discuss why they dramatically stepped down as senior royals during the 90-minute special to be shown in the US on CBS on March 7.
But the couple are not expected to reveal all the details that preceded their historic ‘Megxit’ split from the Royal Family which was announced in January 2020.
Sources close to the Sussexes told the London Evening Standard that the couple still had a good relationship with the Queen, the Duke’s grandmother.
A royal source said that as the couple were no longer working royals, any decisions taken with regard to ‘media commitments are matters for them’.
The source added that the Sussexes were ‘under no obligation’ to inform the Royal Household of the interview, which was announced by CBS in a press release.
The US network described ‘Oprah With Meghan And Harry: A CBS Primetime Special’ as an ‘intimate conversation’ including ‘a wide-ranging interview’ with Meghan.
It said the first part will see Oprah speak to Meghan about ‘everything from stepping into life as a Royal, marriage, motherhood, philanthropic work to how she is handling life under intense public pressure’.
CBS added that they will later be joined by Harry as they ‘speak about their move to the United States and their future hopes and dreams for their expanding family’.
It comes as the Daily Mail revealed Harry and Meghan are set to lose all their remaining royal patronages.
A photograph of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle was released on Sunday as a spokesman for the couple announced: ‘We can confirm that Archie is going to be a big brother’
Oprah Winfrey is pictured at Harry and Meghan’s Windsor Castle wedding on May 19, 2018
It comes as the Daily Mail revealed Harry and Meghan are set to lose all their remaining royal patronages.
It is understood the Queen is to ask them to relinquish their links with any organisations passed down through the Royal Family.
Her 36-year-old grandson would be stripped of his three remaining honorary military titles and, potentially, his patronages with the Rugby Football Union, Rugby Football League and the London Marathon.
Meghan would have to step down as patron of the National Theatre, unless she can negotiate another position with them.
Meghan, Harry and the Queen at an awards ceremony at Buckingham Palace on June 26, 2018
Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah Winfrey was announced by CBS in this press release
Two VERY different royal baby announcements: How the Palace told world of Meghan’s first pregnancy in 95-word statement and message from Queen, family and her mother Doria… compared to 18-word note with no mention of William or Kate for her second
A hastily-prepared 18-word statement from Buckingham Palace reacting to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle saying they were expecting a second child was in stark contrast to their first pregnancy statement three years ago.
The first announcement in October 2018 featured a 95-word statement from Kensington Palace on behalf of the couple, the Queen, Prince Philip , Charles, Camilla, William, Kate and Meghan’s mother Doria Ragland.
This time, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex chose to put out a statement themselves on Sunday night, in keeping with their decision to move away from their traditional roles within the Royal Family after stepping down last year.
The Sussexes are thought to have already told the Royal Family they were pregnant again, but not that they would announce it – which is believed to have caught Buckingham Palace officials off guard with no prepared statement.
A spokesman for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said at 7.29pm on Sunday: ‘We can confirm that Archie is going to be a big brother. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are overjoyed to be expecting their second child.’
It then took one hour and 27 minutes for a Buckingham Palace spokesman to respond at 8.56pm, saying: ‘Her Majesty, Duke of Edinburgh, Prince of Wales and the entire family are delighted and wish them well.’
The Palace statement appeared to be hastily-prepared, and only quoted the Queen, Philip and Charles – without any specific named reference to Camilla, William or Kate apart from ‘the entire family’ – or, of course, Ms Ragland.
When she was handed the role in 2019, it was seen as a major gesture of support and affection because the Queen had been patron of the London institution for 45 years.
One grey area is expected to be the couple’s links with the Commonwealth, but sources suggested that these are likely to go as well.
It was confirmed last night that Meghan, 39, had agreed to a ‘wide-ranging’ interview with Oprah. It is believed the programme could be recorded this week.
The two women are friends and near neighbours in California, with Oprah attending the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s wedding in 2018 and plugging a range of vegan lattes that Meghan has helped finance.
One source described the interview as ‘one of the most inevitable and, sadly, predictable consequences’ of the ‘Megxit’ saga.
Harry will also feature in the 90-minute show. It will air next month on CBS and the couple will discuss their move to the United States.
It will be the first time the pair have spoken publicly about their bombshell decision to leave Britain and step down from their working roles in the Royal Family.
The interview is reportedly the result of a three-year bid by Oprah to win Meghan’s trust.
When she attended the wedding she had met the duchess only once, despite being described as a ‘friend of the couple’, The Times reported.
Before raising the subject of an interview, she worked with Harry on an Apple TV series and visited Meghan’s mother Doris Ragland in Los Angeles.
It follows news that the couple are expecting their second child. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex said they were ‘overjoyed’ at the pregnancy, revealed on Valentine’s Day.
The decision to take part in the interview risks angering – and embarrassing – the Royal Family.
It could also widen the divisions between Harry and his brother, Prince William, and William’s wife, the Duchess of Cambridge.
In the interview, the couple will speak about their move last year and their ‘hopes and dreams for their expanding family’. The programme will air on March 7.
Buckingham Palace declined to comment about the interview, which will be aired six weeks before the Queen’s 95th birthday and in advance of celebrations for Prince Philip’s 100th.
The statements issued for the Duchess of Sussex’s first pregnancy in October 2018 (top) and then on Sunday (bottom)
Prince Harry and Meghan Meghan are set to lose all their remaining royal patronages, which are displayed above
Patronages the Sussexes hold – and what they’ve said today
Harry’s honorary Forces titles:
- Capt General of Royal Marines – Comment request directed by Ministry of Defence to Buckingham Palace
- Honorary Air Commandant of RAF Honington, Bury St Edmunds – Comment request directed by MoD to Buckingham Palace
- Commodore-in-Chief, Small Ships and Diving, Royal Naval Command – Comment request directed by MoD to Buckingham Palace
Harry is also patron of:
- The Rugby Football League – ‘The Rugby Football League is very proud that the Duke of Sussex has been the sport’s Patron since 2016. The RFL has not received official correspondence relating to any changes at this time.’
- WellChild charity – ‘We are delighted to have the Duke of Sussex as our Patron. He has always been a great supporter of WellChild’s work and we look forward to continuing to work with him in the future.’
- The London Marathon Charitable Trust – ‘The Duke of Sussex is the Patron of The London Marathon Charitable. We have no further comment on this.’
- Sentebale – Comment requested
- Rugby Football Union – Comment requested
- Invictus Games Foundation – Comment requested
- (Jointly with William) The Henry van Straubenzee Memorial Fund – No comment
Meghan is patron of:
- Mayhew animal welfare charity – Comment requested
- Smart Works – Comment requested
- The Association of Commonwealth Universities – Comment requested
- The National Theatre – Comment requested
- The couple are president and vice president of The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust – Comment requested
While there was no angry reaction from the palace – it has taken great pains not to get into a public slanging match with the Sussexes – the coldness of the response was evident.
The expected decision to strip the couple of their last remaining royal titles is not being done as a reaction to the interview.
It is being perceived that the televised chat was agreed because the couple could ‘see the direction of travel’ of future royal roles.
Sources have stressed that a 12-month review of their new status was not put into place last year with a renegotiation of terms in mind, but as a safety net in case they moved abroad ‘and didn’t get a dime in the bank’.
Harry and Meghan have since secured multi-million deals with companies including Spotify and Netflix, meaning that their futures are now assured.
But their decision to pursue commercial tie-ups has made their position as quasi-royals simply impossible, courtiers believe.
One source has said: ‘You can’t have one of the head of state’s representatives flogging cups of coffee, it’s as a simple as that.’
Just days ago friends of the prince signalled his determination to fight in particular for his military titles:
- Captain General of the Royal Marines,
- Honorary Air Commandant of RAF Honington in Bury St Edmunds
- Commodore-in-Chief, Small Ships and Diving, Royal Naval Command.
But it seems as if that battle, at least, has been lost.
The father of one will be allowed to keep anything that is a private patronage – and he still has several, such the Invictus Games and WellChild. Meghan holds two personal patronages, the Mayhew animal charity and Smart Works.
It is not clear when an announcement on the patronages will be made but the Mail understands that it could even be earlier than March 31, when the couple’s review period concludes.
One source told the Mail that it was hoped that the interview with Oprah would provide the couple with the chance to ‘get whatever it is they want to say off their chests and move on’.
Another added: ‘The interview has clearly come about because there is an understanding [with Harry and Meghan] that all remaining formal links with organisations will cease to exist.’
The deal has echoes of Princess Diana’s 1995 Panorama interview with Martin Bashir, which she negotiated behind the backs of the Royal Family and caused widespread damage.
Oprah interviewed Sarah, the Duchess of York, in 2010.