In one of multiple previews for Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's upcoming interview with Oprah Winfrey, Winfrey asks Markle how she feels about the palace hearing her "speak her truth." "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," Markle responds. "And if that comes with risk of losing things, I mean, there’s a lot that’s been lost already."
"The Firm," which might sound like the name of a secret intelligence organization, is actually a nickname for the British royal family. The name can reportedly be credited to King George VI, Queen Elizabeth II's father who ruled from 1936 to 1952. According to the New York Times, the king was thought to have said, "British royals are 'not a family, we're a firm,'" a line Colin Firth repeated while playing King George VI in the 2010 movie The King's Speech. In a description of her 2005 book, The Firm: The Troubled Life of the House of Windsor, journalist Penny Junor wrote, "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."
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King George VI is also credited with changing the way the royal family interacted with the public, a concept explored in the 2018 book The Family Firm: Monarchy, Mass Media, and the British Public. The book read, "The monarchy's deliberate elevation of a more informal and vulnerable family-centered image strengthened the emotional connections that members of the public forged with the royals, and that the tightening of these bonds had a unifying effect on national life in the unstable years during and on either side of the Second World War."
"The Firm" is a self-aware term acknowledging that the monarchy's business interests are linked to the way it is viewed by the public. Markle and Harry were previously considered members of The Firm before they stepped back from their positions as senior working royals, and Markle's use of the term while speaking Winfrey is notable, as the royal family rarely uses it to publicly refer to themselves. In December, the "New Firm" was revealed at a socially distanced event to thank frontline workers, according to the Observer. The new group of eight senior working royals includes Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince William and Kate Middleton, Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, and Princess Anne, the Princess Royal.