One of the downsides of being a member of the royal family is that every time one steps out of the palace gates for an official engagement (quick, more bunting!) someone is lurking with a microphone.
Take, Prince William who was last year caught joking about coronavirus while in Dublin (while speaking to an ambulance officer he said, "I bet everyone's like, 'I've got coronavirus, I'm dying,' and you're like, 'No, you've just got a cough'.") Or the time that the Queen was inadvertently filmed chiding famed photographer Annie Leibovitz during a shoot. (When Leibovitz asked Her Majesty to take her crown off, she, visibly annoyed, retorted: "Less dressy? What do you think this is?")
And then there's Prince Philip and the belief defying regularity with which courtiers saw fit to roll him out for thousands of events, thus giving him thousands of opportunities to add to his already lengthy list of public gaffes.
In all of these instances, the HRHs should have known better; known that cameras are a modern day pestilence and that journalists' ears are perennially pricked for any juicy sound bites. After all, loose lips generate clicks.
But this Windsor propensity for bespoke-shod feet ending up in their mouths probably can be put down to a lifetime of living in proximity to Fleet Street's hordes such that the odd indiscrete slip is inevitable.
However, this particularly unfortunate royal family quirk does not explain why, when Oprah Winfrey and CBS' cameras were trained on Harry and Meghan, Duke and Duchess of Sussex last month, the couple wheeled out several eyebrow-raising claims that have subsequently come under intense scrutiny.
Take the absolutely jaw-dropping moment in which Meghan told Oprah: "[But] you know, three days before our wedding, we got married. No one knows that.
"We called the Archbishop and we just said, 'Look, this thing, this spectacle is for the world but we want our union between us.' So, the vows that we have framed in our room are just the two of us in our backyard with the Archbishop of Canterbury."
Harry added: "Just the three of us."
Now, that particular assertion is in the news after the Sun put on their deerstalkers and did a spot of journalistic sleuthing and came up with the Sussexes' actual marriage certificate. (And by 'sleuthing' I mean that just contacted the UK's General Register Office; we're not exactly in Woodward and Bernstein territory here.)
There, written in bureaucratise, is the very clear fact that no, the Sussexes were not legally bound to one another during a backyard ceremony conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury standing next to a clump of irises, but their official union took place at St George's Chapel in front of two billion viewers and Idris Elba.
Former chief clerk Stephen Borton at the Faculty Office, told the Sun: "I'm sorry, but Meghan is obviously confused and clearly misinformed … I think the Duchess is confused. Any certificate she may have of her vows on the wall is not an official wedding certificate."
Now, Meghan and Harry's private ceremony might be the moment they consider themselves wed but they surely had to have known it was not a legal union – so why say they got "married"? Surely they had to realise how much confusion their backyard wedding announcement would create and how much newspaper ink and how many pixels would be spilt as the press pawed over the claim to find if it was true or something of a canard?
A spokesperson for the couple has now admitted to the Daily Beast: "The couple exchanged personal vows a few days before their official/legal wedding on May 19." So … not a marriage then.
There are other instances where doubt has been cast over the couple's pronouncements.
For example, Meghan also said that when she "joined that family, that was the last time, until we came here, that I saw my passport, my driver's licence, my keys".
The key part here makes perfect sense – Kate never has to worry about walking out of the Cambridges' London home and wondering if she remembered to lock the palace.
But what of Meghan's passport?
During the duchess' 20-month royal tenure, she went on numerous international jaunts in a private capacity for holidays, a baby shower, to attend a friend's wedding in Rome, to the opening of Soho House in Amsterdam, to New York to see Serena Williams play in the US Open and to soak up the sun at Elton John's French $26 million French Riviera pile.
The Queen is the only member of the royal family who can travel without a passport, all passports being issued in her name, so … how did the duchess leave the country or enter another one? US immigration officers are hardly known for their sympathetic, go-with-the-flow approach to who crosses their border, royal or not.
Ditto the question of her driver's licence.
Again, only Her Majesty is not legally required to carry a licence when she gets behind the wheel. Members of the royal family are regularly seen driving themselves about the place, including Harry (in his former life) and William and Kate who religiously do the school run. So, are their licences hidden away somewhere too? Are they regularly breaking the law by zipping around London and Windsor sans their licence?
Then let's talk about the issue of their security, the provision of which was one of the key points of grievance raised during the interview. Oprah told viewers in a voiceover: "After their move, Harry and Meghan say security normally provided by the royal family was cut off."
Meanwhile, Harry said: "I never thought that I would have my security removed, because I was born into this position. I inherited the risk. So that was a shock to me. That was what completely changed the whole plan."
However, there's just a bit more to the story.
For one thing, the officers who protect the Queen and her family are from a specialist Scotland Yard unit which is obviously funded by the Home Office and therefore ultimately by British taxpayers.
Currently, only a handful of members of the royal house (the Queen and Prince Philip; Charles and wife Camilla Duchess of Cornwall; and William and Kate and their kids) have 24/7 protection. Others, such as Princess Anne and Prince Edward, are protected only when they are out and about undertaking official duties. Non-working members of the royal family such as Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie and Zara Tindall receive no protection.
Decisions about who does and doesn't get protection officers are made by the London Metropolitan Police's Royal and VIP Executive Committee, and according to the Telegraph, the decision to cut the duke and duchess' British police protection was made by this oversight body.
Factor in too here that prior to Megxit, the Sussexes were reportedly designated as International Protected Persons (IPPs), however that classification is reported to have changed when they walked off into the Californian sunset.
"Once Harry and Meghan step down as working royals, they become high net worth individuals/A-list celebrities but that doesn't entitle them to taxpayer-funded security," Simon Morgan, a former royal protection officer has told the Telegraph. "Elton John has to pay for his own security and so do Harry and Meghan."
(So too did Andrew lose his 24/7 taxpayer-funded protection when he stepped back from official royal duties in 2019. If he is still photographed with burly guards in his vicinity then it is only because his dear mama is paying for them.)
Even if the British government had decided to bend the rules and keep picking up the tab for the Sussexes' security, it would have gone down with UK taxpayers about as well as Corrie being cancelled or G&T in a tin being deemed illegal.
All of which is to say, it wasn't the Queen wot done it. So why, during the interview, lay the blame at the palace gates?
What is such a puzzle here is that by the point Harry and Meghan sat down with Oprah, they had a veritable arsenal of devastating charges ready to drop on the palace, so why introduce questionable claims such as these?
It wasn't as if the most cutting indictment Meghan could make against Kate was that she once stole her GHD or that Harry's biggest bone of contention was that William cheats terribly when they play Call of Duty.
And it was not as if this interview was ever going to slip under the radar, a soporific endeavour in soft lighting and obsequious mutual self-congratulation. The Sussexes did not, for a second, need to gild this particular lily to get the world's attention or to generate a global outpouring of sympathy and support.
The potency and power of what they had to say about the palace's treatment of Meghan – that the pinstriped denizens of the Firm ignored her pleas as her mental health deteriorated to the point of suicidal thoughts and that one unnamed royal family member raised "concerns" about their unborn child's skin colour – are of such profundity and weight nothing more was needed to firmly establish the palace as the villain of the piece.
Again, so why in the name of good PR did Harry and Meghan offer up anything that was going to detract from their iron-clad case against the palace?
The gamble the royal couple took in bringing these problematic claims, they have let a hairline crack of contradiction, and therefore scepticism, to creep into the wider conversation and that only gives their critics ammunition to cast doubt over their more substantial disclosures.
In both the UK and the US, witnesses swear to tell "the whole truth, and nothing but the truth". If only Ms Justice Oprah Winfrey had been presiding the day the interview was filmed (if ever there was a person born to wield a gavel it's Oprah) and had made Harry and Meghan swear just such an oath. Oh well, there's always next time isn't there?
• Daniela Elser is a royal expert and writer with more than 15 years experience working with a number of Australia's leading media titles.