The duchess used the term when she said: “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.”
This part of the interview took place before Harry joined Meghan, when the talk-show host was speaking to the duchess alone.
It comes after Buckingham Palace confirmed it would be investigating claims first reported by The Times on Tuesday about bullying at Kensington Palace. A statement on Wednesday said: “Accordingly our HR team will look into the circumstances outlined in the article.”
Meghan has denied the claims and said she is “saddened” by the allegations.
Oprah with Meghan and Harry will be broadcast on ITV in the UK on Monday 8 March at 9pm, the day after it is shown in the US.
What does ‘The Firm’ mean?
The dictionary definition of a ‘firm’ is “an organization which sells or produces something or which provides a service which people pay for”, but the royal family has long been given this ambiguous title by both the media - and reportedly those inside it.
In 2005, royal biographer Penny Juror published a book titled The Firm: The Troubled Life of the House of Windsor, which examines how the royal family operates as a business.
In the blurb, Juror claims that Prince Philip refers to the family as “The Firm” - it has previously been said this is the nickname he used when he first married Elizabeth, and joined the British royals.
It reads: “The House of Windsor is a big business, though one with more ups and downs than the stock market. 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.”
The royal family does have an enormous amount of financial power. In 2019, Forbes magazine estimated that the Queen’s net worth was equivalent to $500m (£360m).
Another book, by historian Edward Owens, in 2019, was called: “The Family Firm: monarch, mass media and the British public, 1932-53”.
In the past, Diana, the Princess of Wales, also referred to the family as more of a business, in an interview she described: “The day I walked down the aisle at St Paul’s Cathedral, I felt that my personality was taken away from me, and I was taken over by the royal machine..”
The term has also been used in popular culture to describe the family: in the 2010, Oscar-nominated film,The King’s Speech, King George VI, portrayed by Colin Firth, says: “We’re not a family, we’re a firm.”
A BBC documentary aired in 2007-2008, was also called Inside The Firm.
Who is included in the Firm?
While the term is supposedly used by the family in private, it is never normally used publicly, meaning Meghan’s use of the term is notable.
Last year, The Mirror reported that the Queen had formed a “New Firm”, or a group of eight royals (including herself) who would make public appearances.
This group, which includes William and Kate, Charles and Camilla, Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex and Princess Anne.
Not included in this group was Prince Andrew who stepped back from his role after his BBC Newsnight interview, Prince Philip, who retired from royal duties in 2017, and Harry and Meghan who had announced they were stepping back.
The Independent has contacted Buckingham Palace for a response.