‘Outrageous’ Harry and Meghan award will ‘legitimise’ Oprah interview

Prince Harry and Meghan slammed for 'unfair racism charge'

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Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have been warned it would be “clearly outrageous” to accept an award next week credited to them for their royal exit – and subsequent claims made against the Firm. Speaking to Express.co.uk, royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams said honouring Meghan and Harry with the Robert F Kennedy Ripple of Hope award is “extraordinary”, reflecting on an explanation given by organisers.

Kerry Kennedy, RFK’s daughter who is involved in the selection process, said the Duke and Duchess of Sussex had been “heroic” in standing up against the royal institution, suggesting that “they couldn’t have structural racism”.

The couple, who also have a Netflix docuseries scheduled, have not yet confirmed whether they will accept the annual gong on December 6 and have been approached for comment by Express.co.uk.

But Mr Fitzwilliams notes how the honour relies on accounts told to Oprah Winfrey during their bombshell March 2021 interview – and fears it is “their version” of the truth.

He fears it will “very clearly” impact perceptions of the Royal Family in the US and be “very clearly outrageous”, if accepted. The royal expert also feels Oprah could have probed more deeply during the sit down.

Mr Fitzwilliams said: “This award is an extraordinary thing.

“So much in the Oprah interview I believe was their truth or their version of it.

“And I worry this award will legitimise it in the minds of young people.

“The issue is threefold, we don’t know what their Netflix series will be, we don’t know what their book will be, and we have yet to see what they will do with this award.

“We don’t know the details, we haven’t seen the book officially, no-one knows what’s in the Netflix documentary, but really clearly this award is for this so-called challenge to an institution that goes back over thousands of years.

“The problem is Oprah didn’t probe at all, so people will see that they won an award, and they will primarily identify this with the Oprah interview and certain comments on podcasts and programmes.

“But it will primarily be identified in people’s minds with Oprah and what should have been probed wasn’t, a large number of questions, and it will add credence to their brand in an area where I believe that they’ve been destructive.”

Of perceptions of the Royal Family stateside – where Meghan, 41, and Harry, 38, live with children Archie, three, and Lilibet, one – Mr Fitzwilliams said: “It will very clearly [impact American perception of the Royal Family].

“The views are very different. The Americans had tremendous respect for the Queen, and they are fascinated by the Royal Family and always have been, they were with Diana, this is nothing new.”

In March 2021, the couple sat down with Oprah Winfrey in their home state of California, making a series of bombshell claims against the Firm shortly after stepping back as senior working royals.

During the interview, Meghan claimed a member of the institution had discussed what Archie’s skin tone may have been before his birth, and also described struggles with her mental health.

Buckingham Palace responded by saying “issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning”, adding that “whilst some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately”.

The Ripple of Hope Award is organised by the Robert F Kennedy Human Rights foundation, named after former President John F Kennedy’s brother. RFK was assassinated five years after his brother – in 1968.

Explaining the decision, Ms Kennedy, a lawyer and human rights activist, said: “They went to the oldest institution in UK history and told them what they were doing wrong, that they couldn’t have structural racism within the institution; that they could not maintain a misunderstanding about mental health.

“They knew that if they did this there would be consequences, that they would be ostracised, they would lose their family, their position within this structure, and that people would blame them for it.

“They have done it anyway because they believed they couldn’t live with themselves if they didn’t question this authority. I think they have been heroic in taking this step.”

Royal expert Kinsey Schofield, host of the To Di For Daily podcast, also discussed the prize with Express.co.uk, suggesting it will be “another day, another hard eye roll for palace staff”.

She said: “While Prince William is busy creating tangible initiatives with the hope of changing the world for the better over the next 10 years, Harry is on his 5th participation trophy.

“I think Harry and Meghan are just considered an unfortunate inconvenience to the royals but they don’t live rent free in their heads.”

Three days before the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are scheduled to receive the award in New York City, Prince William and Kate, Princess of Wales will be in Boston to attend the Earthshot Prize ceremony.

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