The Queen loves Coronation Street. It is a well-known fact.

So much so that when President George Bush's State visit to the UK in 2003 meant she couldn't catch up on the long-running soap, one of Her Majesty's thoughtful subjects taped the episode on VHS and then posted it to the Queen – who promptly penned her a letter of thanks.

All of which makes sense – after a hard day of being the titular head of the armed forces and a church, not to mention officially being in charge of 2.4 billion people, no wonder the 93-year-old fancies a chance to catch up on her stories.

However, her love of the telly is ironic; something that brings her so much personal pleasure, – the TV – has also brought her so much pain over the last 30 years. And, if new reports are correct, she faces even more small-screen induced heartache in the near future.


Today, the Daily Mail is reporting that US talk show host Ellen DeGeneres has scored the coveted first interview with Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex after they spectacularly announced they were quitting the royal family earlier this month.

Jason Reeves drops hilarious rap for Prince Harry titled "Ex Prince With Red Hair". Video / Coast

While their gloominess and growing distress had been on visible display for months – such as in October, when they both told ITV's Tom Bradby about their personal struggles with royal life – the velocity at which things have moved has been breathtaking.

It has been a scant 18 days since they reportedly shocked the Queen by making their intention "to carve out a progressive new role" public. And it was only last weekend that the Queen confirmed that she had given the Sussexes permission to step back as full time working royals and to essentially move to North America.

The first interview with the couple (if indeed, the current reports are proven to be true) would be the 21st century's biggest media prize thus far, no matter which TV host or journalist snags it. We would most likely see global viewing figures in the tens if not hundreds of millions, with any advertising spots sold around the program garnering record-breaking price tags.

For Harry and Meghan, who are both intensely relatable, charismatic and charming, a TV sit down would be a chance to offer up their side of the story. It would give them the chance to counter some of the negative UK coverage of their withdrawal and would be a means of firmly establishing their new public mission and goals.

However, for the Queen and Co., these sorts of no-holds-barred conversations are the stuff of nightmares. You only have to cast your mind back to November last year when Prince Andrew thought it was a super idea to speak to the BBC's Emily Maitlis to try and explain his ties to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

The global reaction to his hubris, pomposity and the selection of odd defences he offered to counter Virginia Giuffre's claims that she had had sex with Andrew after being trafficked by Epstein to London was incredulity. Within days of Andrew's calamitous TV appearance, he announced that he was stepping down from being a working member of the royal family.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II leaves after attending a morning church service at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham. Photo / AP
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II leaves after attending a morning church service at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham. Photo / AP

While the impulse to put their version of events out into the public domain is completely understandable, history has proven it can be perilous. Even the best intentioned TV tete-a-tete can be an exercise in self-sabotage.


Go further back in time and there was Diana, Princess of Wales' infamous 1995 Panorama interview which shook the House of Windsor to its very foundations. Doe-eyed, the Princess famously told Martin Bashir that "there had been three of us in the marriage, so it got a bit crowded".

Her decision to do the interview was largely made in private – even her longtime private secretary at the time Patrick Jephson was kept in the dark about her plans. (So cloak and dagger was the whole operation that Diana explained away the TV crew setting up equipment in her Kensington Palace apartment as workers setting up a new hifi system.)

As 23 million Britons watched, agog, she managed to devastate the image of Prince Charles and to elevate her status as a woman so cruelly wronged by an allegedly cold-hearted husband.

The interview made her the ultimate victor in the War of the Wales' PR-wise but in doing so, she blew up any chance of ever repairing her tattered relationship with the royal family. Again, within days of the broadcast, the Queen wrote to both Charles and Diana telling them it was time for the warring duo to end their marriage once and for all. Their divorce was finalised a bit over six months later.

Even Charles' decision to speak to Jonathon Dimbleby proved to be a mistake.

During the 1994 interview, he admitted that he had cheated on Diana in what many saw as a deeply self-sabotaging move. Suddenly, questions were being asked about his suitability to be king.

Diana, the Princess of Wales holds son Prince Harry while royal families posed for photographers at the Royal Palace, in Majorca, Spain. Photo / AP
Diana, the Princess of Wales holds son Prince Harry while royal families posed for photographers at the Royal Palace, in Majorca, Spain. Photo / AP

All of which is to say, airing royal dirty laundry has time and again only created PR disasters of Hindenburg proportions for the Queen & Co.

If Harry and Meghan do actually sit down with a TV host or reporter to open up about their "journey", it could irretrievably damage their already troubled relationship with the rest of the Windsor clan.

To start with, if they were to do such an interview, they would be peeling back the red velvet curtain on royal life and no matter how political they attempted to be, they would be essentially inviting the nosy, obsessed public to poke around behind Palace walls.

Sure, they might not spill the beans on whether the Queen has a tendency to fall asleep mid-dessert or Kate is an Instagram obsessive or whether Prince Philip in private is a one-man Benny Hill show. Even if they speak about Harry's extended family in the most oblique terms, they will be breaking the omerta that governs the Windsors.

If they did go down the route of giving more forthright answers about Harry's family and how they operate behind closed doors, the long term toll could be even greater.

As Diana's private secretary Patrick Jephson has said, "Making her Panorama broadcast finally condemned her to life as an unsupported solo act."

While the Queen clearly loves her Harry deeply – just look at the highly unusual use of "grandson" and touching words about Meghan in her statement last weekend – it would be nearly impossible not to read any sort of prime time tell-all as anything but a betrayal.

Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex leave after the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey in London. PHoto / AP
Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex leave after the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey in London. PHoto / AP

More broadly, if the Sussexes do decide to speak to Ellen (or any other small screen demigod) and to give up a free and frank account of royal life, they stand to lose the trust they currently have with the Windsors on the other side of the pond.

That sort of nuclear move could see Harry and Meghan pushed even further to the outer of the royal family.

Keep in mind, the current separation arrangement that governs the Sussexes' new life will be assessed by all parties in 12 months, which looks like the Queen leaving the door open for them to return should they change their mind.

A confessional and personal interview could see that door firmly slammed shut.

As Andrew has so ignominiously learnt, when it comes to TV interviews, there is no putting the genie back in the bottle.

Daniela Elser is a royal expert and writer with 15 years experience working with a number of Australia's leading media titles.