The Queen is speaking out just hours before Meghan’s Oprah interview, with the monarch delivering a live Commonwealth Day address alongside other royals on the BBC.
Her Majesty is appearing in a special broadcast called A Celebration for Commonwealth Day, which also features Kate and William, Prince Charles and Camilla and Prince Edward’s wife Sophie, the Countess of Wessex.
The hour-long programme is taking place to mark Commonwealth Day on Monday – and comes ahead of Meghan’s bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey, which airs on CBS in the United States today.
6.30am: Charles calls for us to be ‘example to world’
Prince Charles has called on viewers of the royals’ special Commonwealth Day program to “offer an example to the world”.
He praised environmental projects including green hydrogen in Australia and sustainable shipping in Barbados.
The Prince of Wales said that amidst the “heartbreak” of the pandemic the “extraordinary determination, courage and creativity with which people have responded has been an inspiration to us all”.
The royals are clearly aiming for quiet dignity and poise with their COVID-focused broadcast before the Meghan interview, but there are certainly some pointed lines here.
For example: is it any coincidence that the Queen’s short speech praised those delivering healthcare and “public services”, following the snarky exchange over how to live “a life of service” with the Sussexes.
6.17am: The royal Commonwealth Day broadcast has begun at Westminster Abbey.
The Dean of Westminster David Hoyle said that “distance doesn’t stop friendship”, adding that “our future is to be together”.
He said the Queen, as head of the Commonwealth, regularly reminded us of its values – “loyalty and friendship and a commitment to peace and to freedom”.
The Queen said today was an opportunity to “reflect on an experience like no other”, highlighting “stirring examples of courage, commitment and selfless dedication to duty” that have been demonstrated in every Commonwealth country.
She spoke of online gatherings connecting people despite distance necessitated by COVID-19.
“I hope we shall maintain this renewed sense of community,” she said.
Prince Charles has chosen to praise the “remarkable diversity” of the Commonwealth.
He said the pandemic had “robbed countless people of their lives and livelihoods”, but hailed the courage and creativity with which people have responded.
He said the pandemic had shown how health and economics are fundamentally connected, speaking of climate change and the loss of biodiversity.
The rival broadcasts by the royal family and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex land amid huge controversy over Megan and Harry’s decision to give a tell-all interview on Palace life.
The Duchess of Sussex is also facing allegations of bullying aides during her time as a working royal, which she strenuously denies, with a spokesperson for the couple saying it is “no coincidence that distorted several-year-old accusations aimed at undermining the Duchess are being briefed to the British media shortly before she and the Duke are due to speak openly and honestly about their experience.”
Last month, the Sussexes officially stepped back from royal duties, after announcing they were expecting their second child. Meghan has also won a privacy battle against a UK newspaper over a letter she sent her father, Thomas.
The Queen will apparently not be watching the Oprah interview, which courtiers have branded the Sussexes’ tell-all chat a “circus” and warned that they are ready to retaliate with new allegations, according to the Times.
In her typically understated style, the monarch is said to be aiming for a “charm offensive” to show that the royal family is “focusing on the big issues”, the newspaper reports.
She is expected to hold further official engagements this week, with her broadcastintended to reveal “Her Majesty’s lifetime commitment to the Commonwealth”, which she has led since 1952, when she was 26.
As well as featuring appearances from senior royals, the BBC programme will include a reflection from British athlete Denise Lewis, a two-time Commonwealth Games champion, and prayers led by the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr David Hoyle.
Buckingham Palace said that the Commonwealth theme for 2021 is “Delivering A Common Future: Connecting, Innovating, Transforming” – a future Meghan and Harry may not feel quite as connected to as royal sources continue to brief against them.
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