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US celebrities speak up for the Duchess of Sussex in the wake of Oprah interview

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The Duchess and Duke of Sussex

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With the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s hotly-anticipated Oprah special having aired in the US last night, social media has unsurprisingly been flooded with commentary around the revealing interview.

Yet while the couple have both their champions and detractors, there are a number of troubling disclosures – such as Meghan’s difficulties in finding mental health support and claims that a Royal Family member expressed ‘concerns’ over how dark Archie’s skin would be – that have caused particular alarm. And of the American audience given a first look at the interview last night, a number of high-profile figures have spoken up to express their support for the Duchess.

Tennis player Serena Williams, who was reportedly one of the organisers of the Duchess’s New York baby shower when she was pregnant with Archie, took to Twitter to back her ‘selfless friend’, who she says ‘lives her life… with empathy and compassion’ and ‘teaches me every day what it means to be truly noble’.

Serena Williams with her husband Alexis Ohanian, attending the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s wedding

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Writing of the ‘pain and cruelty’ Meghan has experienced, Williams related: ‘I know first hand the sexism and racism institutions and the media use to vilify women and people of colour to minimise us, to break us down and demonise us. We must recognise our obligation to decry malicious, unfounded gossip and tabloid journalism. The mental health consequences of systemic oppression and victimisation are devastating, isolating and all too often lethal.’ Alluding to the news disclosed in the interview regarding the gender of the Duke and Duchess’s unborn child, Williams continued: ‘I want Meghan’s daughter, my daughter and your daughter to live in a society that is driven by respect.’

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Meanwhile Amanda Gorman, the talented young poet who shot to global fame after her performance in President Biden’s inauguration, Tweeted: ‘Meghan was the Crown’s greatest opportunity for change, regeneration, and reconciliation in a new era. They didn’t just maltreat her light – they missed out on it.’ She added that ‘Meghan is living the life Diana should have, if only those around her had been as brave as she was’, before concluding: ‘Unclear if this will change the Royal Family, but Meghan’s strength will certainly redefine family everywhere. Think of the women who will be inspired to stand up for their lives, the partners who will be kinder and more courageous than the kin they were born into.’

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Bernice King, daughter of the late Martin Luther King Jr and CEO of his eponymous Centre for Nonviolent Social Change, noted that ‘Royalty is not a shield from the devastation and despair of racism’, adding that she’s ‘grateful that #MeghanMarkle is still here’ – in reference to Meghan’s experience of battling suicidal thoughts while pregnant with Archie. King concluded: ‘We can know racism exists in an institution and still hurt for someone who was hurt by it.’ She also retweeted a post by NBC News, offering contact details for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

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Among the lighter responses, Meena Harris, niece of US Vice President Kamala Harris, dubbed Sunday ‘Meghan Markle Appreciation Day’, before jokingly referring to ‘Her Majesty The Queen Oprah’.

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Indeed Winfrey was widely lauded for her handling of the conversation by American media insiders. Lulu Garcia-Navarro, co-host of NPR’s Weekend Edition, Tweeted: ‘@Oprah is a master interviewer. This is such a hard interview to do and she does it with compassion and depth and leaves nothing off the table. As a viewer and a journalist I’m riveted’.

Mark Landler, the London bureau chief of The New York Times, commented: ‘Suicidal thoughts. An unborn baby’s skin tone. A father who stopped taking his son’s calls. Oprah’s interview with Meghan and Harry was that rarest of things – an impossibly hyped media event that actually lived up to its hype.’

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Ana Navarro-Cárdenas, one of the hosts of America’s highest-rated daytime talk show, The View, concluded: ‘Oof. There hasn’t been this much English tea spilled in America since the Boston Tea Party.’

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The Times reports that #HarryandMeghanOnOprah was trending on Twitter last night, along with the word ‘Monarchy’, the search ‘Paramount+’ (a new CBS streaming service), the term ‘the Firm’ and the name of the hit Netflix drama about the Royal Family, The Crown.

Oprah With Meghan And Harry will be broadcast to UK viewers on ITV on Monday 8 March at 9pm.

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