Queen Elizabeth II addressed the 54 Commonwealth nations in a speech on Sunday, Mar. 7. Commonwealth Day happened to fall on the same day as Oprah Winfrey‘s interview with Prince Harry, 36, and Meghan Markle, 39, is set to air on CBS. The Queen, 94, began her speech with a look back at the difficult year many have had through the COVID-19 pandemic. “Whilst experiences of the past year have been different across the commonwealth stirring examples of courage, commitment and selfless dedication to duty have been demonstrated in every Commonwealth nation and territory. Notably by those working on the front line,” she said.
“In our everyday lives we have had to become more accustomed to connecting and communicating via innovative technology which has been new to some of us. And I hope we shall maintain this renewed sense of closeness and community,” she added. In a recent interview with James Corden, Prince Harry revealed he has stayed in touch with his grandmother since moving to California over Zoom. “Looking forward, relationships with others across the Commonwealth will remain important as we strive to deliver a common future that is sustainable and more secure. So that the nations and neighborhoods in which we live wherever they are located become healthier and happier places for us all.”
It was announced that The Queen would be speaking on the BBC via a statement on Friday, Mar. 5. The Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr. David Hoyle, said, “The Commonwealth Service is one of the Abbey’s most important annual services, but as it is not possible to gather here, we have seized the chance to take the celebration well beyond these walls.” He added, “We are so pleased that this rich and vibrant BBC programme with the royal family and the Abbey at its heart will celebrate our global connections at a time when we are all so physically isolated.”
In previews shared of the Oprah interview, Meghan expressed how she felt “expressing her truth” since officially walking away from the Royal Family in Feb. 2021. “I don’t know how they could expect that after all of this time, we would still just be silent if there is an active role that the firm is playing in perpetuating falsehoods about us,” she said in a shocking clip, seemingly referring to the Royal Family and palace officials as “the firm.” The pregnant Suits alum then went on, “And if that comes with risk of losing things — I mean, there’s a lot that’s been lost already.” Since, reports have been swirling accusing the actress of “bullying” palace staffers — which she swiftly denied.
It was announced via an official Buckingham Palace statement in January that Harry and Meghan were “stepping down” from official Royal duties. This means they will no longer use their HRH titles, no longer continue work with Royal patronages, and also repay Sovereign Grant used to refurbish Frogmore Cottage, where they lived in the U.K. “Following many months of conversations and more recent discussions, I am pleased that together we have found a constructive and supportive way forward for my grandson and his family,” the Queen said, adding that she “recognized the challenges they have experienced as a result of intense scrutiny.”
“Harry, Meghan and [1-year-old son] Archie will always be much loved members of my family,” she added, thanking them for their “dedicated work” in the U.K. and the Commonwealth countries, which include Canada where they resided in 2019. She ended her statement with the “hope” that the couple could “build a happy and peaceful new life,” while an additional palace statement confirmed that stepping away means “it is not possible to continue with the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service.”
Meghan and Harry responded back with a statement of their own, seemingly clapping back at the “public service” comment. “As evidenced by their work over the past year, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex remain committed to their duty and service to the UK and around the world, and have offered their continued support to the organizations they have represented regardless of official role,” they said, adding, “We can all live a life of service. Service is universal.”
Less than a month later, Harry and Meghan confirmed the happy news that they’re expecting their second child! The couple looked so happy as they smiled and posed under a tree for a black-and-white portrait by their friend Misan Harriman, showing off the 39-year-old’s growing bump. “We can confirm that Archie is going to be a big brother,” a statement issued to HollywoodLife read from a representative for The Duke and Duchess of Sussex. “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are overjoyed to be expecting their second child,” they also said.