Oprah, who? It's the joke that got Twitter buzzing on Saturday after Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex feigned not recognizing the famous talk show host whose bombshell interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle rocked the royal family.
In a new interview with The Telegraph, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, opened up about the April death of Prince Philip, the father of Edward and the husband of Queen Elizabeth, and his funeral, which was held with "minimum fuss" and attended by 30 loved ones, to follow COVID-19 protocol. As such, the queen, 95, was socially distanced from the rest of her family. "To see Her Majesty on her own; it was very poignant," Sophie told the outlet.
Inevitably, the couple was asked about Prince Harry (Edward's nephew) and wife Markle, who participated in a March tell-all interview with Winfrey. During that conversation, they alleged that unnamed royals made racist comments toward the actress and that her mental health problems were ignored, treatment that led the couple to flee England for a new life in California.
In response to the interview, the royal family released a statement: "The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan. The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning. While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately. Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved family members." Separately, Prince William, the brother of Harry, told reporters of the family, “We’re very much not a racist family.”
When asked by The Telegraph if the couple had watched Winfrey's special, Prince Edward, 57, joked, "Oprah, who?" and Sophie, 56, laughed adding, "Yes, what interview?" Then, when the interviewer broached reports that Rev. Justin Welby the Archbishop of Canterbury who officiated Markle and Harry's 2018 wedding, did not recognize guest Winfrey, Sophie defended him. "You know, if you’re not into chat shows, there’s no reason why you should know who she is," she explained. "Certainly not in this country, anyway."
In addition to her special with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Winfrey interviewed Sarah "Fergie" Ferguson in 1996 (the ex-wife of Prince Andrew), who revealed that palace life was "not a fairy tale" and last month, Winfrey and Harry released the Apple TV+ documentary The Me You Can't See about mental health.
On Saturday, Winfrey and Sophie's names trended on Twitter while users flagged the Countess's 2013 trip to the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in Johannesburg. "Hypocrisy," someone wrote. "This family proves time and time again just how out of touch they are with regular people (in the UK and elsewhere)….." one added. "This is the first I've ever heard of Sophie, Countess of Wessex," a user commented. "I've been aware of Oprah since I was about 5."
But some pointed to the context of her comments: Sophie was only defending Welby — not referring to herself or insulting Winfrey. "I don't think Sophie is slighting Oprah," someone pointed out. "I think she's just saying the archbishop probably doesn't watch a lot of TV." Someone tweeted, "Both clearly joking and wanting to move away from commenting."
Regardless of family tensions that arose from Winfrey's interview — Prince Albert called the chat "not appropriate" and Prince Charles, the father of Harry and Prince William is reportedly "hurt" — Harry flew to England for his grandfather's funeral. Sophie told The Telegraph that it was "nice" to speak to him after the funeral at Windsor Castle.
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