The Latest: Estimated 17.1 million watched royals interview

MONTECITO, Calif. (AP) — The latest on Oprah Winfrey's interview with Meghan and Harry, their first since stepping away from royal life. All times Pacific Standard Time:

9:15 p.m.

Oprah Winfrey's explosive interview with Prince Harry and Meghan reached an estimated 17.1 million viewers in the United States on Sunday.

That's according to preliminary numbers from the Nielsen company. Winfrey guided the two as they discussed racism and dysfunction inside the royal family in a two-hour special on CBS.

CBS gave the interview a good time slot, following the popular newsmagazine “60 Minutes.” In an era when many people are making their own TV schedules, reaching that kind of live audiences is unusual now unless it's a big sporting event.

Nielsen said it had the largest audience for any prime-time entertainment special so far this television season.

In the interview, Meghan said she considered suicide, while Harry said he and his family were “trapped” in an oppressive institution.

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9:10 a.m.

The White House is emphasizing America’s “special partnership” with the U.K. government in the wake of the bombshell interview in which Prince Harry and Meghan alleged racism and widespread misconduct within the royal family.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked Monday if, given their relationship with Harry and Meghan, President Joe Biden and his wife Jill had any reaction to the interview. She said that Meghan’s decision to speak about her struggles with mental health “takes courage” and said “that’s certainly something the president believes in.” But she said she wouldn’t offer additional comment on the situation “given these are private citizens, sharing their own story and their own struggles.”

Psaki added that the U.S. has “a strong and abiding relationship with the British people and a special partnership with the government of the United Kingdom on a range of issues, and that will continue.”

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8:45 a.m.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is steadfastly refusing to comment on the explosive allegations of racism and dysfunction inside the royal family made by Prince Harry and Meghan in a television interview.

Asked about the interview at a coronavirus news conference, Johnson said he had “always had the highest admiration for the queen and the unifying role that she plays in our country and across the Commonwealth.”

But he said that “when it comes to matters to do with the royal family the right thing for a prime minister to say is nothing.”

In contrast, Keir Starmer, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, says the palace has to take the allegations seriously.

“The issues that Meghan has raised of racism and mental health are really serious issues,” he said. “It is a reminder that too many people experience racism in 21st-century Britain.”

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7 a.m.

Oprah Winfrey has revealed that while Harry would not say who in the royal family made comments about his son’s skin color, he did share who hadn’t.

Appearing Monday on “CBS This Morning,” Winfrey said Harry told her neither his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, nor his grandfather, Prince Philip, were part of conversations about Archie’s skin tone.

“He did not share the identity with me, but he wanted to make sure I knew and if I had the opportunity to share it that it was not his grandmother nor his grandfather that were a part of those conversations,” Winfrey said.

In her bombshell interview which aired Sunday, Meghan described that when she was first pregnant with son Archie, there were “concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born.”

The Duchess of Sussex declined to say who had this conversation with Harry that he relayed to her, saying revealing their name would be “very damaging.”

Winfrey said Monday she had tried to get the identity of whoever had those conversations both off-camera and on but came up empty.

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1:10 a.m.

Tennis star Serena Williams says she's “proud” of Meghan Markle following her interview with Oprah Winfrey.

Williams called Meghan “my selfless friend” in an Instagram post after the sit-down aired Sunday night in the U.S. praising the Duchess of Sussex as “brave.”

“I know it is never easy,” Williams said in the caption. “You are strong- both you and Harry.”

Meghan revealed in the interview that she experienced suicidal thoughts after joining the royal family. She also said there were concerns within the palace while she was pregnant with son Archie about how dark his skin might be.

Williams said Meghan's words “illustrate the pain and cruelty” Meghan has experienced.

“I know first hand the sexism and racism institutions and the media use to vilify women and people of color to minimize us, to break us down and demonize us,” Williams wrote. “The mental health consequences of systemic oppression and victimization are devastating, isolating and all too often lethal.”

Williams said she wants her daughter, Meghan's daughter and “your daughter,” referring to readers, “to live in a society that is driven by respect.”

Meghan and Harry announced during the interview that they are expecting a daughter.

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8:40 p.m.

New Zealand's prime minister says the country is unlikely to become a republic anytime soon or otherwise break from observing Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II as head of state.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was asked by a reporter whether the unflattering picture of the British royal family painted by Harry and Meghan had given her pause about New Zealand’s constitutional ties to Britain.

“I’ve said before that I’ve not sensed an appetite from New Zealanders for significant change in our constitutional arrangements, and I don’t expect that’s likely to change quickly,” she said.

Asked whether Harry and Meghan had ever inquired about living in New Zealand, Ardern said they hadn’t in any official capacity, as far as she was aware.

And asked about her personal friendship with Meghan since the couple toured the country in 2018, Ardern said she had kept in touch. “It is fair to say in the past I’ve had contact here and there,” she said. “But ultimately, the matters that are being canvassed here I see as for Meghan and Harry to respond to directly. These are matters about their personal lives and their personal decisions, and I don’t think it deserves a commentary from anyone else.”

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6:50 p.m.

Prince Harry says he was “trapped” in the royal family before Meghan helped free him.

Oprah Winfrey asked Harry in their interview airing Sunday night whether he would have stepped down from his royal duties if he had never met Meghan.

“I wouldn’t have been able to,” the Duke of Sussex replied, “because I myself was trapped as well” until “the moment that I met Meg.”

Meghan said allegations that the couple’s departure was due to her scheming made no sense.

“I left my career, my life. I left everything because I love him,” she said. “Our plan was to do this forever.”

Harry said “we did everything we did to make it work” and would never have left had the palace been supportive of Meghan.

Harry also said his family cut him off financially in early 2020 after they announced they were eschewing their duties, and that they were only able to depart because of the money left him by his mother, the late Princess Diana.

Harry says Diana would have been “very angry at how this has played out, and sad. But ultimately, all she’d ever want is for us to be happy.”

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6:20 p.m.

Meghan and Harry say their second child is a girl.

The two made the revelation in their interview with Oprah Winfrey that aired on Sunday night, a rare positive moment in a conversation that dwelt mostly on their struggles within the royal family.

Their first child, son Archie, turns 2 in May.

Harry said “to have a boy and then a girl, what more can you ask for? But now we’ve got our family. We’ve got the four of us and our two dogs.”

Harry, wearing a gray suit as he sat next to his wife at a distance from Winfrey, joined the interview after Meghan talked to Winfrey alone.

He denied blindsiding the queen with the news that he and Meghan were stepping down from their royal duties, saying it was preceded by several conversations.

“I’ve never blindsided my grandmother,” Harry said. “I have too much respect for her.”

He did however say that his father, Prince Charles, has stopped taking his calls.

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6:05 p.m.

Meghan Markle told Oprah Winfrey that she had suicidal thoughts after marrying Prince Harry, and the palace prevented her from getting help.

Meghan told Winfrey in the interview airing Sunday night that she “just didn’t see a solution” to the mental suffering she had experienced since joining the royal family and that she told Harry she “didn’t want to be alive anymore.”

She said she went to a senior royal staffer and said she needed to get help for her mental health, but was told it would be bad for the family if she did.

She described the moment as a breaking point leading to her and Harry stepping aside from their royal duties.

Meghan said she “wasn't planning to say anything shocking" during the interview, “I'm just telling you what happened.”

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5:45 p.m.

Meghan Markle told Oprah Winfrey that she realized soon after marrying Prince Harry that she learned that the institution of the royal family would not protect her.

In their pre-taped interview on Sunday night, Meghan told Winfrey that “not only was I not being protected, but they were willing to lie to protect other members of the family, but they weren’t willing to tell the truth to protect me and my husband.” She did not give specific examples.

She said when she was first pregnant with son Archie, there were “concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born.” The statement led Winfrey to ask “What,” incredulously and sit in silence for a moment.

Meghan declined to say who had this conversation with Harry that he relayed to her, saying revealing their name would be “very damaging.”

Meghan also said she was stunned when she was told he would not be a prince and would not receive security from the palace.

Meghan said she did not worry about being a divorced, mixed-race American actress entering the British royal family, but later she “thought about it because they made me think about it.”

Meghan said it was not so much the royal family members themselves who treated her this way, but the people behind the institution.

She emphasized that the queen herself “has always been wonderful to me.”

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5:15 p.m.

Meghan Markle told Oprah Winfrey that she didn’t “fully understand what the job was” when she married Prince Harry.

Winfrey's hotly anticipated two-hour pre-recorded interview with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex began its airing on CBS in the U.S. on Sunday night, with Meghan sitting alone with Winfrey.

The two talked about the early days before the royal marriage, with Meghan saying “there was no way to understand what the day-to-day was going to be like.

"That’s what was really tricky over those past few years, is when the perception and the reality are two very different things," Meghan said. “And you’re being judged on the perception, but you’re living the reality of it.”

Meghan also revealed that she and Harry were technically married a few days before the ceremony watched by the world.

After a brief intro with Winfrey narrating a recounting of the couple's wedding and subsequent announcement that they were stepping down from their royal duties, Meghan walked into the backyard garden setting of the interview.

“You really are having a baby!” Winfrey shouted when she saw Meghan's baby bump under her black empire-style dress.

Meghan said she would reveal the sex of the baby later in the interview when Harry joined them.

Winfrey and Meghan said they were at the home of a friend of Winfrey's because they liked the setting.

They clarified that no questions would be off limits and that Meghan and Harry would not be paid for the interview.

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