Poor Oprah was probably lounging poolside in a designer muumuu when her publicist texted to let her know she had been dragged into this week’s royal drama.
It started with a report in the New York Post. Not long after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex stunned the world with their public resignation letter, a source told Page Six: “Oprah had advised Harry and Meghan about building their own brand.”
The implication was clear. The couple’s “bombshell” decision to abdicate their royal duties may have come from the Queen of All Media. And once again, Oprah was cast as a Svengali and puppeteer yanking the strings of the rich and famous.
Isn’t it weird how often Oprah gets blamed for the decisions of others? Remember when Tom Cruise jumped up and down on her TV couch like an agitated chimp and people were like, “Oprah encouraged him do it for the ratings!”
No, she didn’t. Was Oprah controlling his legs and brain? No. Did Oprah have anything to gain if viewers gasped and thought, This guy is batcrap crazy? No. If anything, Oprah looked as alarmed as the rest of us, you know, like she was minding her own business and reading a paperback on the subway when a filthy vagabond started ranting about the Rapture while undressing and thrusting his pelvis.
Didn’t Lindsay Lohan once blame Oprah as the reason she needed to leave America? Didn’t Seal once blame Oprah for Harvey Weinstein? Didn’t the free world blame Oprah for not running for U.S. president and thereby leaving us with Donald Trump?
And now Oprah is getting blamed for what the media is calling “Megxit”?
Ridiculous. But on Friday, Ms. Winfrey set the record straight in various stories, including “Oprah Says She Had Nothing To Do With Royals Stepping Down,” “Oprah Winfrey Rubbishes Claims Of Advising Meghan Markle And Prince Harry To Step Back From Royal Duties” and “Oprah Denies Giving Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Advice on Stepping Down.”
In a statement to People, Oprah said: “Meghan and Harry do not need my help figuring out what’s best for them. I care about them both and support whatever decisions they make for their family.”
Granted, that is not exactly an airtight denial. Saying a couple does not need your help does not rule out the possibility that you helped. But royal watchers and the British tabs playing the blame game should pay heed to that second sentence.
Oprah is saying Meghan and Harry are in charge of their own destiny.
Oprah is saying Meghan and Harry are beyond Oprah.
And you know what? Everyone should be inspired by this autonomy.
The far easier thing for them to do would be to keep playing footsie with tradition and expectation. They could just keep robotically going through the royal motions, smiling and waving when turning out for sanctioned events. But at some point, they decided this is not the life they want for their family and their dreams.
Walking away and starting over — this is grossly underrated in society. So everyone who is now condemning the couple — and especially Meghan — for allegedly “ruining” the royal family has it totally backwards. Meghan didn’t “force” Harry to abandon his family. She gave him a family. She didn’t “trick” him into running away from his duties. She gave him new aspirations.
Was this bloke supposed to spend the rest of his years standing in the long shadow of throne succession and be the clown in the background? That’s never what he wanted. It’s never what his mother wanted for him. So what the couple’s celebrity pals understand — and it’s not just Oprah — is that Harry and Meghan are already way more influential than the royal family they are leaving behind.
Think about the potential invite list to a Harry and Meghan dinner party.
No royal could ever hope to attract such an A-list gathering.
Get more opinion in your inbox
Get the latest from your favourite Star columnists with our Opinion email newsletter.
Sign Up Now
The other royals are bound by habit and ritual. Meghan and Harry are now free to do and be whatever they want. And I’m sorry, royal groupies, but their links to Hollywood and political power brokers — including the Clooneys and Obamas — will allow them to realize their altruistic impulses in new and exciting ways.
The truth is, no celebrity, including Oprah, should be blamed for Megxit. So all of you Union Jack-waving, football-obsessed, crumpet-eating, pip-pip shouting, “Doctor Who”-watching maniacs need to stand down and let this one slide.
Oprah didn’t make Meghan and Harry leave the royal family.
The royal family did that all on their own.