As anticipation builds for Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, a former aide to the prince’s mother is reminding everyone that lying behind the headlines is a fractured family and people who are hurting.
Patrick Jephson, who served as private secretary and chief of staff to Princess Diana, appeared on CNN Sunday morning, discussing the upcoming interview with host Michael Smerconish.
Having lived through the drama that accompanied Diana’s split from Prince Charles and, by extension, the royal family, Jepshon said he can definitely see parallels between what took place then and what’s happening now with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
“Thirty years ago we were in a comparable situation where rifts were opening up within the royal family and it was starting to escalate,” said Jephson.
“There were a lot of unhappy people involved then, I’m quite sure there are a lot of unhappy people involved now,” he continued.
“First and foremost, we should understand that this is a family rift,” Jephson explained. “It has taken on a lot of the trapping of a big media PR story, but at the heart of this are real people really hurting and I hope that somewhere in the midst of the current back and forth somebody is putting down the seeds for eventual reconciliation, which has to come.”
Patrick Jephson, Princess Diana's private secretary and chief of staff, tells Michael Smerconish it's important to remember the royals are also people — and that "there's a lot of blame all around" for the current rift. https://t.co/UM7IDDrLzv pic.twitter.com/yzFLHaVeGJ
— CNN (@CNN) March 6, 2021
Jephson also sounded a note of caution, explaining that royal interviews don’t always wind up having the intended effect.
“The precedence for royal interviews of this kind are not very encouraging,” said Jephson. “Both Prince Charles and Princess Diana and more recently Prince Andrew have tried to put their sides of the story on TV through these sorts of interviews and in all cases, it has backfired.”
Prince Charles, he added, has “examples from his own history of how these things can be made worse, and how they can be made better.”
Ultimately, Jephson expressed hope that the royal rift can be bridged and a reconciliation can take place.
“I hope that it will be intervention from all well-intentioned people to help Harry and Meghan settle in their new lives and help heal the wounds that arose through the way they departed,” Jephson added.
“CBS Presents Oprah with Meghan And Harry” airs Sunday, March 7 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Global.