The Queen Opted to “Sleep On” Her Response Before Releasing Official Statement About Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Interview with Oprah Winfrey

Her late Majesty would not be rushed into commenting publicly.

Queen Elizabeth
(Image credit: Getty)

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey in March 2021 was a shock to the system for most royal followers—so imagine the Queen’s reaction. According to a new book, Her late Majesty wanted to “sleep on” her response after the interview and refused to be rushed into making a statement, and that courtiers struggled to respond to the Oprah interview because of the myriad of allegations made during the television special.

In his new book Courtiers: The Hidden Power Behind the Crown, Valentine Low—royal correspondent for The Sunday Times—writes that staffers were left struggling to craft a response to Harry and Meghan’s sit-down, during which the Duke and Duchess of Sussex made a handful of allegations against members the royal family.

“The courtiers faced another massive challenge: how to deal with the Oprah interview,” Low writes in the book, per Insider. “There had been so many allegations made by the couple—about racism, about security, about Meghan’s mental health—that it was hard to know where to start.”

In particular, the allegations of racism within the royal family were a source of contention, the book continues.

“The private secretaries and communications secretaries had long debates about how to deal with the issue, especially what one of them awkwardly called ‘the R word,’” Low writes. “That had come up because of remarks that a member of the royal family supposedly made about the color of Harry and Meghan’s future baby’s skin.”

Staffers created an official statement around 2 p.m. the day after the interview aired in the United States, but Buckingham Palace chose to remain silent.

“And then precisely nothing happened,” Low writes. “The Palace stayed completely silent because the Queen decided that she wanted to sleep on it. She was not going to be rushed into saying anything precipitate. It was a reminder that, while the courtiers might do all the groundwork, the final decisions are made by the royal family.”

Ultimately, the four-sentence statement was released just before 5:30 p.m. the following day and included the memorable line “While some recollections may vary,” speaking to the dissonance in opinions between the Sussexes and other members of the royal family of what occurred behind the Palace walls.

Her late Majesty’s decision to wait to release the statement proved, Low writes, that “at the age of 94, the Queen was very much still in charge.”

Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.