Royal Commentators Roasted Harry and Meghan’s Oprah Interview … Before It Aired

YouTubers had pranked the royal experts to comment on the TV special days before its broadcast.
March 8, 2021, 11:17am
prince harry and meghan oprah interview
PHOTO: AFP PHOTO / HARPO PRODUCTIONS / JOE PUGLIESE

Meghan Markle has been dealing with public scrutiny since marrying Prince Harry and joining the British royal family in 2018. From relentless tabloid coverage to absurd — often racist — online comments and conspiracy theories surrounding their son Archie, the Duchess of Sussex is a fixture on the royal gossip mill. Now, a meticulously planned YouTube prank has exposed four royal experts for seemingly having deep biases against Harry and Meghan.

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YouTubers Josh Pieters and Archie Manners said they tricked the royal experts into offering their opinions on Harry and Meghan’s highly anticipated interview with Oprah Winfrey, days before its scheduled broadcast. The TV special that aired on March 7 had the couple sharing about their life in Buckingham Palace, during a decade marked by royal crises.

Under the guise of a made-up news company, the YouTubers reached out to the royal experts for comment on the TV interview that had not aired at the time. In the prank video, Manners is seen explaining to the experts that their pre-recorded footage would be aired as an “immediate reaction” to the Oprah interview. The experts reportedly agreed to their request with negotiated fees.

Also shown in the video was the Queen’s former press spokesperson Dickie Arbiter confirming to Pieters and Manners that he had not seen the interview, while royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams agreed with a chuckle that he had a “fair idea” of how the interview was going to be.

The video then cuts to snippets of seemingly unadulterated comments from the royal experts — they already had their minds set on lambasting Harry and Meghan even before watching the interview. 

“This was an actress giving one of her great performances,” said Ingrid Seward, the Editor in Chief of Majesty Magazine. “From start to finish, Meghan was acting.”

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“There wasn’t a real need to go into so much detail as to why they were unhappy as members of the royal family,” an impassioned Fitzwilliams said at one point.

Pieters and Manners also asked the experts’ opinions on made-up topics supposedly discussed in the Oprah interview, such as Meghan refusing the COVID-19 vaccine and her support for a donkey sanctuary.

“I think it’s very selfish,” commented Dickie Arbiter, taking the bait on Meghan’s fictitious anti-vaccine stance. Also embroiled in the prank was his daughter and CNN’s royal commentator, Victoria Arbiter.

Pieters and Manners have pulled viral pranks on high-profile figures in the past. They previously invited reality stars to fake TV shows and tricked elusive Tiger King star Carole Baskin into giving her first interview since the hit Netflix docuseries came to dominate quarantine entertainment

After the video documenting the prank on royal commentators came to light, Fitzwilliams explained that he thought these pre-recorded interviews were a common practice in the news industry. He also revealed that while he was asked to use the phrase “in the interview” repeatedly, he did not notice anything amiss in the conversation with the YouTubers.

“I’ve been had & feel very foolish but these people are skilled,” Fitzwilliams added in a Twitter comment.

But his explanation was left wanting by many Twitter users, who piled on with mockery and criticism. “You've been Royally exposed,” one Twitter user tweeted at Fitzwilliams.

Dickie Arbiter has called the YouTube video a “scam” that was edited to be “deliberately misleading.” Meanwhile, Seward and Victoria Arbiter have not publicly addressed the prank.

During the interview with Oprah, Meghan talked about the torrent of issues she had to grapple with in Buckingham Palace, which ranged from comments on their son Archie’s skin color to death threats. She said it came to a point that she did not want “to be alive anymore.” 

Last year, Harry and Meghan shocked the world after announcing that they would step back from their senior roles in the British royal family and work towards financial independence. They have since moved to California.