Royals to show united front before Harry and Meghan's Oprah interview

In an apparent attempt to grab attention before the airing of Prince Harry and Meghan’s tell-all interview, senior members of the royal family are to show a united front on Sunday and praise the efforts of doctors and nurses.

Just hours before the interview with Oprah goes out, Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, Camilla, William and Kate will appear in a programme celebrating the Commonwealth and paying tribute to the world’s frontline healthcare workers.

The move comes amid an increasingly acrimonious transatlantic public relations war, which this week saw Buckingham Palace announce it was probing a claim that Meghan had bullied royal household staff. Other negative stories have also emerged, including claims that the Duchess of Sussex wore earrings lent to her by the tarnished Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.

In the programme, Charles will commend the “extraordinary determination, courage and creativity” shown by the people of the Commonwealth – an association of nations from the former British empire – while fighting the disease.

He will also say the outbreak has shown how “human health, economic health and planetary health are fundamentally interconnected”, emphasising that climate change is another “existential threat” which “knows no borders”.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will speak with the South African doctor and health activist Zolelwa Sifumba about the rights of healthcare workers. “It’s sad, almost, that it’s taken the pandemic for the public to really back and support all those working on the frontline,” Kate is to say.

Her comments come as the UK government comes under mounting pressure to reconsider a proposed 1% pay rise for NHS staff in England, which one nursing representative described as a “slap in the face”.

The messages are to be broadcast from Westminster Abbey, where last year at the Commonwealth Day service Meghan and Harry made their last appearance before stepping back as senior royals.

The couple, who have relocated to the US, agreed last month they would not return to their roles and said at the time “service was universal”.

The interview with US chatshow host Oprah Winfrey is expected to deal with media intrusion into their lives and the decision to quit royal duties in the UK and move to North America.

On Thursday, the US broadcaster CBS released a new clip of the interview in which Meghan said the royal family, which she referred to as “the firm”, played an “active role” in “perpetuating falsehoods about us”.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Sussexes said of the bullying allegation: “Let’s just call this what it is – a calculated smear campaign based on misleading and harmful misinformation.”

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