More than 11m people in UK watched Harry and Meghan’s Oprah interview

Tell-all interview draws second-highest ratings of the year

A man watches his laptop showing an interview of Prince Harry and Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, by Oprah Winfrey outside King Edward VII's Hospital where the Duke of Edinburgh has been transferred from a specialist cardiac hospital to a private facility to continue his recovery after a heart procedure, in London Monday, March 8, 2021. (Yui Mok/PA via AP)
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Millions of people in the UK tuned in to watch the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey on Monday.

According to viewing figures released on Tuesday, an average of 11.3 million watched the two-hour special on ITV in the UK.

The tell-all interview was broadcast in Britain after it was aired by CBS in the US on Sunday.

The interview was more damaging than expected, with key revelations still dominating the headlines more than 24 hours after the US broadcast.

ITV's head of home news, Matt Williams, said a peak of over 12 million people tuned in to watch the UK broadcast, making it the second most-watched TV event of the year in the UK, after Boris Johnson’s January address on new lockdown measures attracted more than 15 million viewers.

An estimated 17.1 million viewers tuned in to watch the programme in the US.

ITV said the broadcast was viewed by “more than half of people watching television across the UK at that time”.

Oprah With Meghan And Harry had an average audience of 11.1 million and a 54% share between 9pm and 11pm. At its peak, it attracted 12.4 million.

"This was ITV's biggest peak audience since the 2019 Rugby World Cup final and the biggest on any channel (outside government, pandemic-related announcements) since the Strictly Come Dancing final on BBC One in December," ITV said.

The Strictly Come Dancing final, won by Bill Bailey last year, attracted an average of 11.6 million viewers and a peak of 13.2 million, according to overnight ratings.

The Panorama interview with Princess Diana, broadcast by the BBC in 1995, had overnight ratings of 21.1 million.

The Prince of Wales’s interview with Jonathan Dimbleby, broadcast on ITV in 1994, in which Charles admitted he had committed adultery, had overnight ratings of 12.7 million.

ITV also said that 2.2 million streamed the Harry and Meghan interview, which made headlines around the world, on ITV Hub.

The interview was a hit among young viewers, with four out of five viewers aged 16 to 34 tuning in, making it the biggest TV audience for overnight viewing for that age group, outside of news programming, since I'm A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! last year, ITV said.

Buckingham Palace has not responded yet to a claim from the duke and duchess that a member of the royal family expressed concern over “how dark” their unborn son’s skin tone would be.

Palace aides reportedly prepared a statement expressing the family’s love and concern for the couple, but it was not signed off by Queen Elizabeth II.

The Times reported that the queen wanted more time to consider her response to the lengthy interview.

In their interview, the couple also spoke about mental health, Prince Harry’s relationship with his family, and press intrusion.

Prince Harry described feeling "really let down" by his father Prince Charles, who had stopped taking his phone calls for a while.

Meghan, who is mixed race, described herself as "naively" unprepared for life in the pressure cooker of the royal family.

But she said she was denied help for a mental health crisis and targeted by lies in an incident involving her sister-in-law. She said her depression was exacerbated by the concern expressed about the skin colour of her unborn son.

"I ... just didn't want to be alive anymore. And that was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought," she said.

Asked if she had had suicidal thoughts while pregnant with son Archie, the duchess replied: "Yes. This was very, very clear."