Is the British monarchy tottering?

US talk show icon Oprah Winfrey's interview with Prince Harry and Meghan is still making waves in Europe's press. The couple talked about racism, pressure from the palace, and the young duchess having suicidal thoughts. Commentators discuss whether this latest shakeup will turn the British against their monarchy.

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Keskisuomalainen (FI) /

No Brit can escape the royals

In Britain, it's impossible to escape all the fuss over the royal family, says Keskisuomalainen:

“Our Nordic neighbours seem pleasantly relaxed about their kings. And the Nordic royals also create a simpler image of themselves. Britain is very much a class society, and this is also reflected in the relationship between the British and their royal family: they are either annoyed to see it living in luxury or enraptured by it. ... The media are now beating the drum either for or against the couple's interview. And hardly any Briton can escape this drumbeat: They simply have to take a stand.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

An anachronism

The royal family is increasingly in need of an overhaul, the Süddeutsche Zeitung believes:

“The British monarchy has known for decades that these family conflicts are also about its very existence, about the need to adapt a feudal system to today's society. ... How do you reform an institution with a thousand-year history? The monarchy cannot be eradicated as easily as its opponents would like. At its core, however, it remains anachronistic: a state can submit to an idea, but not to a person who is a leader by birthright.” (UA) /

Actors with crowns

Monarchies won't disappear that quickly, counters political scientist Igor Eidman on

“There is no practical reason to retain the symbolic attributes of monarchy in democratic countries. ... Finland, Germany, Austria, France, etc. all manage perfectly well without kings and queens. On the other hand, having a monarchy hasn't put a dent in the prosperity of Sweden, Denmark, Norway etc. either. European monarchies will exist as long as grown-up children still need fairy tales about beautiful princesses and princes and wise queens and kings. As long as these images are still in demand, the crowned actors won't be out of work.”

The Independent (GB) /

The firm will grind to an end

The days of the British monarchy are numbered, says The Independent:

“Of course, there is a sense of 'Which set of multimillionaires should I feel sorry for today?' when you're faced with the Harry and Meghan vs Charles, Will et al conundrum, but this was an unexpectedly eye-opening interview. ... So the royal institution will grind to an end, not with a bang but with Oprah. There might be a couple more generations left in it yet, but someone's really laid it all bare now - the casual cruelty, the senseless nastiness, the waning relevance, the symbiotic relationship with the tabloids that is the last gasp that keeps the firm alive - and it's hard to imagine it going on much longer.”

Sydsvenskan (SE) /

For the Crown not all people are created equal

Sydsvenskan finds it outrageous that according to Meghan concerns were raised within the royal court about the skin colour of her child:

“One might have thought the court would use this opportunity to show the world that this ethnically diverse country stands together. With millions of immigrants from Africa, the Caribbean, Asia and Oceania, as well as the Poles, Romanians and Irish who have arrived in recent years, what was needed was a unifying message: the British can vary greatly in appearance and in skin colour. But in fact that would not be necessary at all - even in Britain it should be self-evident that the family of the head of state is fully behind such a central principle as the equality of all human beings.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Another missed opportunity

The British royal family failed to learn its lesson from Diana's tragedy, La Repubblica complains:

“The accusations made by Meghan and Harry against the royal family are reminiscent of the television interview with Lady Di a quarter of a century ago. ... Naturally the reasons for Diana's divorce from the heir to the throne and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's 'divorce' from The Firm, as the British monarchy is often referred to, are of a different nature. But the substance is the same: in both cases an opportunity for the Windsors to modernise was missed. ... Two young women could have revitalised Elizabeth II's long reign: both of them were rejected by an establishment that consists not only of three generations of the royal family, but also of the court apparatus that manages them.”

Ilta-Sanomat (FI) /

Women who speak out are shunned

For Ilta-Sanomat the revelations speak volumes about the way women are treated in the monarchy:

“The question remains why, in 2021, people still admire an institution in which women are expected to conform to narrow, predetermined roles. An institution where a woman is labelled difficult if she dares to take a stand on problems that come to her attention and address them openly. Meghan and Harry's interview with Oprah can be seen as a PR spectacle, a cry for help, or anything in between, depending on how you look at it. But it is certainly strange that Meghan has been called a liar by so many when in the light of past experience the serious allegations could very well be true. The British monarchy has never been very fond of women who have their own opinions and cross certain boundaries.”

Polityka (PL) /

She chose this fate

Polityka shows little sympathy for Meghan:

“In the 1990s Diana cried in an interview with BBC journalist Martin Bashir, and in 2021 Meghan somewhat theatrically wiped away her tears. She is older, much more experienced, an actress and a businesswoman with a loving husband by her side. She gave the House of Windsor the opportunity to modernise and update its image. It was emphasised that her skin colour was an advantage and that the monarchy needed to open up to new realities and values. The Queen welcomed her with open arms and spent a lot of time with her. She did it with conviction and almost forgot her favourite, Princess Kate. ... When Markle joined the royal family, she knew she was opting for strict protocol and rules. She was not an innocent little doe.”

Seznam Zprávy (CZ) /

The world has other problems

Commenting in Seznam Zprávy, Jiří Hošek, the news site's former London correspondent, is baffled by all the attention:

“In the middle of a pandemic that has claimed many lives, billing such an interview as world news seems to me less empathetic than perverse. What's more, we can't be sure whether everything that was said is true. For example, the accusation of toxic racism. Equally unsettling are the statements about suicidal thoughts. But how much truth is there to them? The interview is likely to trigger a major backlash from supporters of the monarchy. Meghan and Harry have stepped into a wasp's nest here. In general, however, today's world really has more important things to deal with.”