Last night, the Oprah Winfrey interview with Meghan, Duchess of Sussex aired after being heavily trailed last week. In one clip, Meghan says ‘the firm’ plays an active role in spreading lies about her and Harry as a couple – with many wondering what the firm actually is.
Since the third teaser was released by CBS, ‘the firm royal family’ has increased in search on Google by 5000% as people wonder who exactly she’s referring to. That, alongside ‘perpetuating meaning’ – a reference to Meghan’s exact quote.
When asked how she feels about the Palace hearing her speak her truth in the interview with Oprah, she replies ‘I don’t know how they could expect that after all of this time we would still just be silent if there’s an active role that the firm is playing in perpetuating falsehoods about us and if that comes with risk of losing things, there’s a lot that’s been lost already.’
While it’s not known when Oprah sat down with the couple, the interview was filmed prior to royal aides telling The Times that Meghan was subject to a bullying complaint in 2018 – a years old story resurfacing as their sources say they want to share ‘their side’ prior to the interviews release on Sunday. Clearly from her quote above, Meghan saw coming what her lawyers have now called a ‘calculated smear campaign’ in anticipation of the tell-all interview.
The interview is making waves before it is even aired then, unsurprisingly, with many fixated on the latest clip and comparing it to one of Princess Diana in 1995 when she speaks of ‘the establishment’ she married into dubbing her a ‘non-starter’ as a royal because ‘I do things differently, I don’t go by a rule book and because I lead from the heart not the head.’
But who exactly are Diana and Meghan talking about when they reference the establishment, or more recently ‘the firm’?
What is 'the firm'?
Well, the firm is a term that is commonly used for the Royal Family in general, coined by Prince Phillip. The royal family usually does not use the term in interviews, although Newsweek reports that the Queen does use it in private to refer to a specific group of senior royals. The term also often refers to ‘the firm of eight’, the name given to a group of royals denoted by the Queen to be the core of the royal family in 2021, according to reports.
Thus, the firm as of 2021 includes the Queen, Prince Edward, Prince Charles and Camilla, Prince William and Kate plus Sophie Countess of Wessex and Princess Anne.
Prince Phillip is not involved because he has retired from royal duties while Prince Andrew voluntarily took a step back in 2019 because of his links to sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
Who are 'the men in grey suits'?
The 'men in grey suits' was a phrase used by Princess Diana to refer to the people who she felt were watching her every move as a royal. Dr James Colthurst, who is reported to be a close friend of Diana's, he told the Daily Mail Diana constantly felt under pressure from 'grey men' who were a group of unnamed people believed to be representing establishment figures in the royal family.
In an interview with the Mail he said such pressure was the reason she wore an evening gown to the 1994 Vanity Fair Summer Party in Hyde Park the 'broke all the royal rules'.
'That day she was mightily fed up because she’d had criticism from what she called the "Grey Men", I think to do with one of her successful speeches,' he said. 'She often felt she was doing her bit for The Firm, as she called it, and she wasn’t appreciated.'
So essentially, Diana saw the 'men in grey suits' as representatives for 'the firm' - although Meghan has made no similar reference as of yet.