Why Meghan's use of 'The Firm' is causing such controversy

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·4-min read

Watch: Meghan Markle accuses 'The Firm' of perpetuating falsehoods about them

Meghan Markle has appeared to accuse members of the Royal Family of "perpetuating falsehoods" about her and her husband Prince Harry, in a new clip released ahead of her sit down interview with Oprah Winfrey.

Harry and Meghan have opened up to Winfrey for a two-hour long special about stepping back from royal life, with Markle hinting that myths about her were coming from inside the palace.

In a clip shared by US broadcaster CBS ahead of the interview on Sunday, Meghan is asked how the palace may feel about her "speaking her truth". She replies: "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, I mean, I… there is a lot that has been lost already."

'The Firm' is a term which is understood by many to refer to members of the Royal Family themselves, rather than palace staff or courtiers.

Emily Andrews, The Sun's royal editor, explained: "Meghan, with her use of 'The Firm' seems to be directly accusing members of the Royal Family of telling lies about her and Harry.

"And now they have nothing to lose as 'so much lost already'. This is turning into war 2.0 Sussexes v Royals, reminiscent of the War of the Waleses."

The term 'The Firm' is understood to have been coined by Prince Philip and stuck.

Watch: Duchess of Sussex allegations: Staff felt bullied

Read more: Buckingham Palace to investigate claim Meghan bullied royal staff - 'We are very concerned'

Royal author Penny Junor wrote in her book The Firm: The Troubled Life of the House of Windsor: "Prince Philip calls it 'The Firm', and all the royal executives and their powerful associates are supposed to make every effort to avoid even a hint of scandal that could diminish the reputation of the family business."

Rather than referring to the traditions and customs of the palace and the royals, using 'The Firm' appears to be making a direct allegation toward the Royal Family.

Robert Jobson, the Evening Standard's royal editor, said: "I would suggest that accusing “The Firm” - name for the Royal Family not the Palace by the way - is pretty upsetting."

Pointing out that the clip was filmed before the reports of bullying surfaced in The Times, royal author Victoria Murphy, told BBC News: "She’s not referring to the latest allegations, so what is she referring to? We know she has been frustrated by no comment stances, we know that from court documents, is that what she is referring to?

"People are looking for specific information here on what it is that makes her feel this."

During his interview with James Corden, Prince Harry referred to decisions made by "that side" as he talked about stepping back from royal life, and what he had to give up.

But he also spoke about catching up with the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh - his grandparents - on video calls, saying that they had seen Archie running around during their chats.

When his mother, Princess Diana, began to speak about her experiences inside the palace, she often referred to "Men in Grey" or "men in grey suits", referring more to the courtiers and staff around her.

Andrew Morton, who wrote Diana: In Her Own Words, said she would worry about the "men in grey" who were "shadowy establishment figures".

The interview has been filmed and will air in the US on 7 March. (CBS)
The interview has been filmed and will air in the US on 7 March. (CBS)

Read more: Royal adviser who complained about Meghan's 'bullying' still working for Kate and William

Meghan and Harry filmed the interview with Winfrey at least two weeks ago, but the clip was released shortly after Buckingham Palace confirmed it would be investigating claims of bullying made against the Duchess of Sussex.

Meghan had said she was "saddened" by reports that a former adviser, Jason Knauf, had raised concerns with the palace HR team, claiming she had bullied two PAs out of their roles.

On Wednesday evening the palace said it was "concerned" about the report and would be investigating to see if lesson could be learned.

Meghan's lawyers had called the reports, which were made in The Times, a "smear campaign".

Oprah with Meghan and Harry airs in the US on CBS on 7 March, and will be shown by ITV on 8 March at 9pm.