Readers implored others to explain what “motivated such pettiness” towards the couple.
Ile955495: “The number of ‘respects’ for the comments against these young people, one born into a dysfunctional system in a country long past its use-by date, the other shunned by her in-laws, is shaming Australia.”
Bossman: “Can’t wait for the interview tonight! Harry and Meghan are very popular in the US and also the US media. The UK media can have the dull royal family to themselves!”
Credo: “Meghan is a self-made millionaire. A self-made businesswoman who before ‘any Royal’ had her online successful business all around the world. World brand. So Meghan has every right to share her story, her perspective. Her truth, her power, and ‘The Firm’ or the little people in grey suits were threatened …yes, by her business savvy and intellect.”
For Europe correspondent Bevan Shields, who was watching the interview and blogging live from London, what unfolded was more explosive than Princess Diana’s famous Panorama interview in 1995.
“I was expecting Harry and Meghan to throw a few barbs towards Buckingham Palace but what we got instead was a volley of grenades,” he says.
“The couple’s claim that they experienced racism from within the royal family was clearly the most damaging part of the interview but I was also shocked by Meghans’ claim that she was on the verge of suicide but palace officials said they couldn’t really do anything to help her.
“If this is true, it’s a genuine scandal.”
Despite the revelations, some readers firmly believed that family spats, regardless of who you are, should be dealt with privately.
Others made the point that, for a couple who are pleading for privacy, granting a tell-all interview was an odd choice.
sue: “Family politics can be very hurtful, but when you go public in such a public family, it can only do much more damage. What is to be gained from this? Only irreparable damage all round. So sad.”
Peter: “Everyone has baggage. However, broadcasting themselves to the world as misunderstood as they build their brand and keep themselves financially relevant is most definitely not working their way through it on a personal level. This unfortunately is the American way.”
Prankster: “… and they moved out of Royal Life to escape the media?!!?”
Rwethereyet: “What a contrast. I’m now reflecting on the lived dignity of the queen.”
Some were incredulous that in a digital age Meghan could have no idea what she was getting into when marrying into the royal family, and that Harry didn’t know better either.
Kel: “But she signed up as a working Royal and took a title so there are rules to abide by, as there are in every company (ie The Firm). She is acting like she should have done whatever she wanted, but the RF has certain rules they go by and if she didn’t like it, she never should have agreed to be a working royal. Both H&M were given the choice to step away before the wedding.”
Pisces: “They didn’t even bother to teach me the national anthem,” complains Meghan. Did she not think to perhaps learn it herself?”
Reader KM agreed: “It was something she KNEW she was going to marry into, so it’s a basic requirement of the job. How long did she know Harry was a prince before the wedding?”
Fair go: “Surely he should have known how difficult it would be for an American actress with so much personal baggage to adapt to life in the royal house of strictures, and with the inevitable lies and attacks from the UK tabloids.”
When some readers questioned why anyone cared about the royals anyway, others happily jumped in to explain the interest.
Richardo: “We are in the grips of a pandemic. Syria is still at war with itself. Famine in Yemen. Why is this news?”
PJH: “It’s the world’s most expensive soap opera. Neighbours with tiaras. It has its heroes and villains, who can fall from grace or be redeemed. There are big glamorous weddings, occasional births and I expect there to be a big ostentatious funeral soon. The spats and scandals add drama and the arrival of new characters is always more interesting when they are controversial. They just need a better theme song.”
Aussie Kenn: “This is so funny reading both the interview and the comments.”
Pluto agreed: “Keeps us sane.”
Shields says while some argue the royals aren’t “news”, the truth is that the media would not write about them if the stories weren’t well-read.
“And they aren’t just well read – they are devoured,” he says.
“There is a bit of an entertainment factor here. Britain, in particular, has been through a national trauma over the past year and a bit of royal drama is a nice distraction for some people.
“And I struggle with the idea that the internal workings of the monarchy is something that the press should ignore.”
On the issue of Archie’s skin, readers revealed their own musings about the skin colour of their future children. “Does that make us racist, too?” they asked.
Tony L: “My wife is Javanese/Indonesian; I’m French Scottish origin white. We also wondered if our kids would be white, tanned, golden… Fair as it turned out. I’m sure blonde, redhead and brunette parents wonder about hair colour. So what?”
FranM: “I think it’s a different situation if you’re wondering about your own children? And I think the context of the question from someone else would be important here, and possibly extremely hurtful.”
Shields says that while Buckingham Palace has put out a 61-word statement about the interview in the hope it all dies down, he doubts it will.
”Harry and Meghan have started a war and they have no intention of backing down,” he says.
Amidst all of it, some readers simply wished the couple a fairytale ending.
AMV: “They didn’t have to go through this. Happy for them, nasty family members are all around us, no matter your income or power. Keep on going, there is just one life, be happy and independent, they don’t own you!”
Bluestocking: “As she said, heroes and villains. She’s not a villain and he’s not ensnared in her web. Love is hard to find and they seem to have found it. Let’s just wish them well.”
Crisis support can be found at Lifeline: (13 11 14 and lifeline.org.au), the Suicide Call Back Service (1300 659 467 and suicidecallbackservice.org.au) and beyondblue (1300 22 4636 and beyondblue.org.au)
Online readers of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age made 508 comments on 26,500 stories in the past week.
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Orietta Guerrera is the Reader Editor for the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Brisbane Times and WAToday. She was previously Federal Political Editor for the mastheads.