Why John Oliver Thinks Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Have ‘Absolutely Done the Right Thing’ With Royal Step Back

John Oliver can empathize with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s decision to step back from their royal duties.

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“I think they’ve absolutely done the right thing,” Oliver, 42, said on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert on Monday, February 10. “I think it was a horrible situation for them to be in. I think one of the recent times I was on this show before the wedding, I was saying, ‘This is going to be rough. The British tabloid press is rough on royalty.’ And so I fully understand why they wanted to get out of there.”

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The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and guest John Oliver during Monday’s February 10, 2020 show. Scott Kowalchyk/CBS

Before Harry, 35, and Meghan, 38, announced their decision to transition away from royal life via an Instagram statement in January, the royal couple grappled with the British media’s coverage of their personal lives. In late 2019, Harry and Meghan took legal action against the publishers of the Mail on Sunday, objecting via court documents to the outlet’s decision to print a “private and confidential letter” to father Thomas Markle that Meghan wrote during a “time of great personal anguish and distress.”

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Harry defended his wife of nearly two years in a public statement he released in October. “I have been a silent witness to her private suffering for too long,” he wrote. “To stand back and do nothing would be contrary to everything we believe in. … There comes a point when the only thing to do is to stand up to this behaviour, because it destroys people and destroys lives. Put simply, it is bullying, which scares and silences people. We all know this isn’t acceptable, at any level. We won’t and can’t believe in a world where there is no accountability for this.”

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Meghan Markle and Prince Harry at a township to learn about Youth Employment Services, Johannesburg, South Africa in October 2019. Tim Rooke/Shutterstock

In their January Instagram statement, the couple revealed their plan to “step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent.” Later that month, following Harry’s discussions with his family members, Buckingham Palace announced that the Sussexes “will not use their HRH titles as they are no longer working members of the Royal Family.”

On The Late Show on Monday, Colbert, 55, observed that Americans care about the British royals more than Brits do, to which Oliver cracked wise. “Even though, you kind of … basically, it was a piece of cultural annexation,” he said. “You took a prince. You sent an American over there and took a prince.”

After a pause, Colbert quipped, “Yeah, it was a long con.”

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All jokes aside — or most jokes aside, rather — Oliver understands why Americans are so fixated on the British royals. “I understand pageantry,” the Last Week Tonight host said. “I understand being fascinated by someone else’s pageantry, in the same way that I’m fascinated by the Super Bowl halftime show. You just think, ‘Wow! Planes going over and J. Lo going boink?’ I just think a royal wedding is just the American version of that.”

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