Sorry Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Oprah’s Most-Watched Interview Is Still This Icon

Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, gave a bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey that aired on March 7. During the two-hour conversation, the couple spoke candidly about their controversial exit from the royal family and the reasons behind that decision. The interview was a big deal and that reflected in the ratings. However, those numbers still didn’t top Oprah’s most-watched interview.

Oprah Winfrey interviews Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on A CBS Primetime Special premiering on CBS
Oprah Winfrey, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle | Joe Pugliese via Getty Images

Millions of people tuned in to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s sit-down with Oprah

The sit-down marked the first time the Sussexes have ever spoken publicly at length about their departure from the royal family, which occurred in March 2020.

Describing what led to their exit, the couple pointed to racist and unfair reports from British tabloids and the “lack of support” they allegedly received from the palace in handling it.

RELATED: Where Was Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Oprah Interview Filmed?

Basically powerless, Meghan sunk into a depression that led to suicidal thoughts. “I went to the institution and said that I needed to go somewhere to get help, said that I’ve never felt this way before and I need to go somewhere, and they said I couldn’t, that it wouldn’t be good for the institution,” she recalled.

Prince Harry, who also admitted to mental health struggles, said he too sought help from members inside the palace, but nothing came of it. Fearing “history would repeat itself” — referring to Princess Diana, who died in a 1997 car crash after being chased by paparazzi — he felt stepping back was the best option for their family.

“We did what we had to do,” he told Oprah.

As expected, the interview attracted a big audience. The Hollywood Reporter notes that 17.1 million viewers tuned in when it aired on CBS on March 7 and that 11.3 million people watched when it came on the United Kingdom’s ITV the next night.

Oprah’s most-watched interview eclipses that one

While those numbers are certainly impressive, they don’t come anywhere close to Oprah’s highest-viewed interview, which was with the late Michael Jackson.

For his first interview in over a decade, Jackson sat down with Oprah at his Neverland Ranch in 1993 for a wide-ranging discussion. Throughout the conversation, he talked about everything from his turbulent upbringing to his personal relationships to the controversy surrounding his changing skin color, which he admitted for the first time was caused by vitiligo.

Michael Jackson outside
Michael Jackson out and about | Carlo Allegri/Getty Images

RELATED: Michael Jackson’s Skin Condition Rumors Were Finally Put to Rest in His Autopsy

According to The New York Times, at least 62 million people watched the interview. “It was the most exciting interview I had ever done,” Oprah said in a later conversation. “It certainly was going to be the most watched interview I had ever done.” 

16 years after that interview, Jackson died of “acute propofol intoxication” caused by drugs he reportedly used to help him sleep, according to The New York Times. He was 50.

How to get help: In the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Or text HOME to 741-741 to connect with a trained crisis counselor at the free Crisis Text Line.