As Americans Watch Meghan Markle's Oprah Interview, British TV to Air Queen's Message

The British royal family will present a united front on Sunday, delivering a message praising the Commonwealth just hours before the broadcast of a highly-awaited interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex's pre-recorded tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey will air on CBS between 8 p.m. ET and 10 p.m. ET on Sunday, before being broadcast the following day on British broadcaster ITV at 9 p.m. on Monday (5 p.m. ET).

However, in what could appear to critics as a pre-emptive attempt to divert the attention away from the couple, senior members of the Royal Family will seize British airwaves themselves in a special broadcast to mark the annual Commonwealth Day—a celebration of the association of 54 member states once part of the British Empire.

Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla are expected to give speeches in the event at Westminster Abbey, according to reports in British newspapers The Guardian and The Sunday Times.

Prince William and Kate Middleton, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, will also feature.

In his video address, Prince Charles will praise the "extraordinary determination, courage and creativity" the people of the Commonwealth have shown throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Charles is also expected to single out climate change as an "existential threat" and to highlight how the COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated "human health, economic health and planetary health are fundamentally interconnected."

William and Kate meanwhile, are set to speak about the crucial role healthcare workers have played over the last 12 months and of the importance for them to be properly recognized.

The program is to be broadcast from Westminster Abbey in London, the site of Meghan and Harry's last appearance as senior royals 12 months ago. The pair attended a Commonwealth Day service along with the rest of the royal family on March 9, 2020, before stepping back from their roles.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall attend the Commonwealth Day Service on March 9, 2020 in London, England. The event marked the last public appearance of Harry and Meghan as senior royals. Phil Harris-WPA Pool/Getty Images

The video address on Sunday comes amid an increasingly strained relationship between Buckingham Palace and the Sussexes, who have moved to North American after quitting royal duties.

In a clip of the interview CBS released last week, Meghan referred to the royal family as "the firm", a phrase usually described as Queen Elizabeth II's nickname for the royal family itself, rather than for palace aides.

Meghan also claimed "the firm" had played an active role in "perpetuating falsehoods" about the couple.

"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.

"And if that comes with risk of losing things, there's a lot that's been lost already."

In a separate clip, Prince Harry compared his and Meghan's experience of royal life to Princess Diana's.

The interview is not the only source of friction between the Sussexes and the royal family. Last week, Buckingham Palace announced it had launched a probe into claims Meghan had bullied some of her royal household staff, which the Sussexes have since dismissed.

"Let's just call this what it is—a calculated smear campaign based on misleading and harmful misinformation," a spokesperson for the couple said.

Meghan Markle, Prince Harry with Oprah Winfrey
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry told Oprah Winfrey about the pressures of royal life in a two-hour prime time special on CBS, set for broadcast on Sunday, March 7. Preview clips showed the Meghan claim "the firm" played a role in spreading falsehoods about the couple. Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions

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