From Fergie On Oprah To Prince Andrew On Newsnight: The Other Royal Tell-All Interviews

Six classics, and a bonus.

Royal interviews

by Emily Watkins |
Updated on

Following the news that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have granted an exclusive interview to none other than Oprah Winfrey, we’re champing at the bit to watch the tell-all conversation as the couple consolidate their move away from royal life. To ease the agony while waiting for it to air (almost unbearable?), we’ve been gliding through the archives and revisiting the most explosive royal interviews from days gone by.

Does anything spring immediately to mind? Don’t worry, we’re coming to that one.

1. Sarah Ferguson and Oprah Winfrey

While Oprah’s been granted the much coveted exclusive with Meghan and Harry, she has a history of interviewing royals which stretches back decades. Her candid 1996 interview with Sarah Ferguson covered the ‘cruel’ British media, the Sisyphean task of joining the monarchy as an outsider, and her shared understanding with fellow non-royal Princess Diana. But that was small fry, because 15 years later we got…

2. …Sarah Ferguson and Oprah Winfrey, Round 2

The Duchess of York and legendary host were reunited in 2011 after News of the World released footage of Ferguson offering access to her ex-husband Andrew in exchange for a whole lot of money. The scandal rocked the royal family and sent shockwaves across the Atlantic, with Oprah famously playing the grainy video to her guest. ‘Thank you for showing me because, actually, I felt really sorry for her’, says Ferguson of herself. ‘[S]he looks exhausted and looks like she's at least, you know, at the end of the day she didn't let Andrew down, because he's so important to me and to the girls.’

3. Prince Charles and Jonathan Dimbleby

In 1994, two years after Charles and Diana announced their separation, the Prince was interviewed by Jonathan Dimbleby where he admitted that he’d been unfaithful to his ex-wife during their marriage. At the time, the Daily Mirror wrote of the Prince that ‘He is not the first royal to be unfaithful. Far from it. But he is the first to appear before 25 million of his subjects to confess’ – you can make it 25-million-and-1 at the link below:

4. Princess Diana and Martin Bashir

Princess Diana’s infamous interview with Martin Bashir (now the subject of ongoing investigation) was watched by 23 million people when it aired in 1995, and for good reason. The candid conversation sees Diana open up about her struggles with mental health and bulimia, and includes one of her most famous quotes about her split with Charles and his infidelity with Camilla Parker-Bowles: ‘there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded’. Well put.

5. The ‘Fab Four’ and Tina Daheley

Ah, hindsight is 2020, isn’t it? In 2018, before Meghan became the Duchess of Sussex, before Megxit and before baby Archie, she and Harry sat down to be interviewed with William and Kate at the Royal Foundation Forum. While rumours were already swirling about discord behind the scenes, neither brother nor their partners (Meghan and Harry weren’t married yet) had publicly confirmed any friction.

So, when Tina Daheley asked her interviewees whether they ever encountered family disagreements in the course of working together and William replied ‘Oh, yes’, it prompted peals of (slightly nervous?) laughter from the audience. Harry qualified – ‘healthy disagreements!’ – and explained, with all the diplomacy of a royal afforded an Eton education, that ‘we’ve got four different personalities and we’ve got the same passions to make a difference, but different opinions. I think those opinions work really really well.’

Harry continued, ‘working as a family does have its challenges and the fact that everyone is laughing shows they know exactly what it’s like. We’re stuck together for the rest of our lives.’ Well, that’s true. No matter where you are in the world, family’s family whether you like it or not.

6. Prince Andrew and Emily Maitlis

When this interview aired in November 2019, I remember gazing at Emily Maitlis on screen like a devoted little puppy dog and thinking: there goes a goddess.

Without so much as a raised eyebrow, Maitlis coaxed from Prince Andrew some of the most explosive revelations and protestations in contemporary history. From claiming that he can’t (or couldn’t?) sweat to declaring himself ‘too honourable’, like a cop-out job interviewee answering the classic question about their biggest flaw (I’m a perfectionist, what can I say), the Prince was swiftly removed from royal duties in the conversation’s aftermath. While the horrifying saga of Jeffery Epstein is emerging to encompass a clutch of the world’s most powerful people from Washington to Windsor, the final implications of Andrew’s surprising openness still remain to be seen.

BONUS: Princess Charlotte and All The Reporters At Prince Louis’ Christening

Ok ok, this one wasn’t an interview, but it was brilliant. So, Kate and William’s daughter Charlotte was all ready for her little brother’s christening at St James’ Palace – family and friends, parents and siblings, were dutifully assembled and ready to enter. Unsurprisingly, they were joined by photographers and reporters waiting with baited breath to record the occasion; Charlotte thought best to clear up any confusion about the guest list ahead of time, and sternly told the press ‘You’re not coming’. I mean, she was right. She was also three.

READ MORE: As The Duke And Duchess Of Sussex Announce Their Oprah Interview, How Can You Watch It?

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