The winner of the Harry and Meghan interview isn't who you may think

Envelope, please. The winner of the interview with Harry Windsor (formerly known as Prince Harry) and Meghan Markle was the interviewer, Oprah Winfrey. Harry and Meg wanted a venue in which to tell the world about their really tough life within the royal family, you see, and their pal and neighbor gave it to them.

Think what you may about Oprah Winfrey but there is one indisputable fact at play – she is a consummate businesswoman. She is a billionaire thanks to her knack for personal interviews. Her skills include clever marketing and her ability to appear comfortable interviewing anyone from the President of the United States to an unemployed blue-collar worker, as well as everyone in between.

Earlier today, Ed wrote about the media’s gullibility in doing the bidding of any story that concerns the royal family. I consider myself an Anglophile, an interest in England and Britain due largely to my ancestry. It’s true, though, that the media promotes stories of the royals, as evidenced in today’s news coverage. Publications around the country are covering this interview as though the Queen herself sat down with Oprah. By the way, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Oprah gets that interview eventually. As Ed pointed out, even competing networks were delivering free publicity for the CBS interview.

The ratings are in and Oprah is likely pleased with them, though they are not extraordinary. The ratings come in at 17.1 million viewers. That’s good but not Super Bowl ratings good. Given the overblown hype for the interview, I admit I’m a little surprised. In comparison, the Super Bowl ratings registered at over 90 million viewers, also on CBS.

Today the press coverage is full of praise for Oprah. There is an appreciation for her ability to pry deeper into surface responses to claims made by both Meg and Harry. This brings us to one subject that was puzzling – the charge made by Meghan that the royal family is racist and took it out on baby Archie even before he was born. If Oprah was digging so deep into topics, why didn’t she insist that Harry and Meghan name names when Meghan told Oprah that Harry admitted to her that one of his family members questioned him on how dark Archie’s skin might be, given his bi-racial mother? Harry told Oprah he wasn’t comfortable naming a name and she let it go at that. That is a huge charge to make without any substantiation, other than hearsay.

The Washington Post swooned over Oprah, natch.

With her relentless follow-up questions, compassionate demeanor and focused skill in eliciting bombshell after bombshell, Oprah proved herself the best celebrity interviewer ever. This may not have been much in dispute, after her interviews with Michael Jackson, Kim Kardashian and Barack Obama among many others.

This, still, was clearly one of the biggest interviews of her life. Fully prepared for it, she delivered.

Oprah best displayed her interviewing chops by relentlessly circling back to emotional or news-making comments like a heat-seeking missile.

Not much was allowed to simply disappear in flurry of words, as happens far too often in interviews. Oprah did not let the couple to get away with general hints or diplomatic niceties.

Once the chum was in the water, she always went back to find it. And in so doing, she delivered a master class in using follow-up questions to clarify, to get the specifics, to nail down the news.

Except for the story of baby Archie’s skin color. That was a huge bomb to be tossed without verification. Meghan seemed to feign ignorance with Oprah, before Harry joined in the sit-down.

“They were concerned that if he were too brown, that that would be a problem?” Oprah asked, both incredulous and utterly direct.

“I wasn’t able to follow up with why . . . but that — if that’s the assumption you’re making, I think that feels like a pretty safe one,” Meghan responded.

Sounds like malarkey to me. A question arose of the claim the couple made that they were married three days before their official wedding in a private ceremony – just the two of them and the Archbishop of Canterbury, who also officiated the May 19 ceremony. Reverend David Green, Vicar of St Mary’s, West Malling and the Rector of St Michael’s, Offham called them out on that.

“I’ve no idea what they mean. Obviously lacking as a parish priest,” he tweeted while debating the issue with Reverend Tiffer Robinson, who is responsible for four rural parishes in Suffolk. “You can’t get married twice. So what was the thing three days before? And if it was a marriage, what on earth are we doing ‘playing’ at prayer/holy matrimony for cameras.”

The official rule book for clergymen provided by the Church of England lays out the very specific circumstances with which the Church defines a legal marriage. The book states that “a couple who are already lawfully married cannot choose to re-marry each other, unless there is some doubt as to the validity of the earlier marriage.”

Furthermore, Harry’s assertion that the private ceremony took place just among himself, his bride and the Archbishop poses another problem. Per the rule book, two or more witnesses must be present at the marriage for it to be considered legally binding. It’s unclear if the Archbishop counts as one but regardless, the duo would still be missing a witness.

The rules also stipulate that a private, exclusive garden ceremony creates a problem as the public is required to have unrestricted access to the building during any marriage ceremony to allow for valid objections against the marriage.

The couple was not compensated for the interview with Oprah but she made out quite well. CBS paid between $7 million and $9 million to Oprah’s Harpo Productions to air the interview and Harpo still owns the rights to it.

“There is no question Oprah was the biggest star of that interview,” said Robert Thompson, professor of television and popular culture at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

Prince Harry and Ms. Markle needed her to anoint them as royalty in the U.S., Mr. Thompson added. “To be anointed in American royalty requires a visit to the queen, that’s Oprah. This was Oprah signing the adoption papers to bring them in,” he said.

Winfrey just so happens to be working with Harry, creating a special about mental health for Apple TV+. How convenient, given the big focus of Meghan’s mental health issues surfacing in the interview. I may be wrong but I think that’s the first we’ve heard of her mental health issues, certainly the talk of her fight with suicidal thoughts. Harry and Meghan’s $100 million deal with Netflix will probably provide them the means to live like royalty in California, next door to Oprah.