The Queen will appear on a television special featuring Prince William and Kate, Sophie as well as Charles and Camilla hours before Harry and Meghan’s US interview criticising the Royal household.
Six senior Royals will be seen on A Celebration For Commonwealth Day which will be broadcast on BBC One on Sunday.
It will be seen by millions of Britons before Meghan’s pre-recorded CBS sit-down with Oprah Winfrey which has already been trailed showing her hitting out at ‘The Firm’.
In fact six of the eight senior Royal Family members widely said to make up The Firm will be seen speaking beforehand – with only Princess Anne and Edward not featured.
The Queen’s annual Commonwealth Day message will pay tribute to communities across the family of nations have come together in response to the pandemic.
The Queen will be joined by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge William and Kate on TV
The Royal family broadcast will go out hours before Meghan and Harry are on US television
Later the Prince of Wales will addressing the universal devastation caused by the coronavirus pandemic in a recorded message and wife Camilla will tell broadcaster Clare Balding about the importance of books.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have also spoken to medical, charity and voluntary staff from across the Commonwealth to hear more about the work they have been carrying out to care for those within their communities.
Finally the Countess of Wessex has spoken to three women from around the Commonwealth, to hear about their experiences of supporting other women and their wider communities.
The 5pm programme steals a march on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to beat them to the airwaves by addressing the nation on TV first.
Her Majesty was due to attend the annual Commonwealth Service on March 8 – but this has been cancelled for the first time in nearly half a century due to Covid-19, Westminster Abbey announced this week.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex made their last working royal show on Commonwealth Day
The Queen will take to the airways without Meghan and Harry who have stepped down
Instead the Queen chose to share her annual message 24 hours earlier for A Celebration For Commonwealth Day.
This will be shown to millions a few hours before Harry and Meghan’s intimate interview with Oprah Winfrey is being screened in a two-hour special on CBS at 8pm EST in the US – around 1am UK time on Monday.
A Westminster Abbey spokesman said: ‘The decision was taken jointly by the Abbey, the BBC and the royal household about three weeks ago.’
The clash between the Queen’s BBC statement and the Sussexes’ multi-million dollar CBS interview has extra significance because last year’s Commonwealth Service was when the couple bowed out as working royals, and when they were last seen in public with Harry’s grandmother, father and brother.
Harry and Meghan are said to be in shock because the Queen stripped them of their royal and sporting patronages after they ‘poured their hearts out’ to Ms Winfrey during a two-day shoot in their £11million LA mansion last week.
The tell-all interview is due to air on Sunday March 7 with no topics off-limits with one source warning Harry’s family the show would be a good ‘time to hide behind the sofa at the palace’.
It has also emerged that Meghan is expected to speak about the feud with her family on her father Thomas’ side after This Morning host Holly Willoughby said that Oprah Winfrey’s team had been in contact with ITV for footage of an interview with her half-sister.
In the January 2020 broadcast Samantha Markle said the former Suits actress and Harry owed her and their father an apology for ‘incredibly wrong, untoward, and shocking’ behaviour after the royal wedding in 2018.
How Meghan used Prince Philip’s nickname for the royal family ‘The Firm’ in bombshell Oprah interview as she accused them of ‘perpetuating falsehoods’
BY DAN SALES
But in the latest clip from Meghan Markle’s upcoming interview with Oprah Winfrey the two-word moniker is used again for that purpose.
The Duchess of Sussex is asked by the US chat show queen how she thinks the Palace might feel about her ‘speaking her truth’.
She responds: ‘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.’
Sources close to the couple claim she was referring to institution of Buckingham Palace, which includes senior courtiers and advisers, headed by the Queen, rather than individual royals.
But Meghan’s choice of words may not have been deliberately chosen to do so, but channels the Duke’s own remarks when he wed into the House of Windsor.
Meghan used the phrase ‘The Firm’ to describe the Royal Family in the upcoming interview
The Duke of Edinburgh coined the nickname The Firm when he married into the family in 1947
It was Philip who first uttered the phrase when he tied the knot with the then Princess Elizabeth in 1947, describing the wedding affectionately as ‘marrying into The Firm’.
But since then members of the Royal Family have appeared to have avoided repeating the term in public, even if they may have in private.
Newsweek had recently claimed that the Queen uses it herself behind closed doors.
It is widely misremembered that Princess Diana uses the term in her Panorama interview with Martin Bashir.
In fact she says ‘When I say many people I mean the establishment that I married into, because they have decided that I’m a non-starter.’
In fact the term is actually more frequently used by commentators than actual members of the family themselves.
It is oft cited that Princess Diana used the term in interview, but was in fact ‘The Establishment’
The modern Firm now: Edward, Sophie, Kate, William, The Queen, Charles, Camilla and Anne
The reluctance may be due to the fact the simple two-word description can also be used to refer specifically to the key personnel within the Crown.
Eight senior royals are said to be within the ‘firm of eight’ chosen to represent the family.
They are William and Kate, Prince Edward, the Countess of Wessex, the Prince of Wales and Camilla, The Queen herself and Princess Anne.
A photo of the group before Christmas left little doubt of their significance within the household.
But despite their own hesitancy in using the label to describe themselves, the easy identifier for the royals has endured through the decades.
Roya Nikkhah, Royal Correspondent at The Sunday Times, told Radio 4 this morning: ‘The extraordinary phrase in that clip is that she is saying The Firm were actively perpetuating falsehoods about her and Harry.
‘I think the use of that phrase The Firm, it can include both the principals, members of the Royal Family, and members of the household so it remains to be seen who she is going to aim her fire at.’
Penny Juror, the royal biographer, even named her 2005 book The Firm: The Troubled Life of the House of Windsor.
The description of the book says: ‘The House of Windsor is a big business, though one with more ups and downs than the stock market.
‘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.’
And the name has even retrospectively placed into the Royals’ fictionalised accounts of history.
Colin Firth in the King’s Speech declares ‘We’re not a family, we’re a firm.’
With its high-profile debut on Oprah’s primetime interview this Sunday, it looks sure to remain in use for much longer.