Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's March interview with Oprah Winfrey remains one of the most buzzed-about moments of television from 2021, so it was impossible for the U.K. National Television Awards to exclude it from a montage of important TV moments from the year on Thursday. When the montage was shown during the ceremony at London's O2 arena, the clips were reportedly met with boos. The boos did not make it to the ITV broadcast, but a source told The Daily Mail the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were treated as "villains."
Journalist Trevor McDonald introduced the montage, which included a few scenes from Winfrey's interview. The audience "loudly" jeered and booed when Markle and Harry were on the screen. "Immediately, there was audible booing throughout the arena. It was as though they were pantomime villains," one source said. Another source said there was laughing.
"When the clip came up of Meghan there were boos from the audience," the second source, a celebrity who did not want to be named, told the Daily Mail. "Some shouted out and there was laughing. There were a few embarrassed faces but sadly Meghan was obviously not too popular on the night."
The special, named Oprah with Meghan and Harry, aired on CBS on March 7 in the U.S. and the following day in the U.K. on ITV. Markle and Harry made several shocking accusations about the royal family during the interview. At one point, Markle opened up about suicide ideation and claimed the royal family "institution" tried to dissuade her from seeking help for her mental health. Markle also said that a member of Harry's family was concerned about the color of their son Archie's skin before he was born. Harry refused to say which member of his family brought up this concern, but Winfrey later said it was not Queen Elizabeth II or Prince Philip.
Harry and Markle were not the only ones booed during the National Television Awards. Piers Morgan was booed when a clip of the former Good Morning Britain host was shown. Morgan appeared to relish the boos, even tweeting a clip from the ceremony. "Last night's National Television Awards... Love the boos being drowned out by cheers... [Cristiano] Ronaldo gets the same crowd reactions," Morgan wrote.
Morgan, who was nominated for Best Presenter, was criticized for his comments on Markle's mental health admission and said he didn't believe anything Markle told Winfrey. U.K. regulator Ofcom investigated Morgan's remarks. While Ofcom found the remarks were "potentially harbor and offensive," investigators ruled that Morgan and ITV did not break U.K. broadcasting codes with his comments.
"While we acknowledged that Mr. Morgan's questions about the nature of racism had the potential to be highly offensive to some viewers, the conversations about race and racism in this programme provided open debate on the issues raised by the interview," investigators wrote. "We also considered that the programme allowed for an important discussion to be had on the nature and impact of racism. ITV had clearly anticipated that racial issues would be discussed at length as part of the coverage of the interview and had taken steps to ensure context could be provided during the discussions."