Kate Middleton and Prince William will also take part in the televised special

By Stephanie Petit
February 22, 2021 10:49 AM
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Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's TV special with Oprah Winfrey — their first sit-down interview since their engagement — will air just hours after the royal family will make their own TV appearance.

The annual Commonwealth Day service, which normally gathers people from all over the world at Westminster Abbey, has been canceled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, the BBC will broadcast a television special featuring members of the royal family. Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, Prince William, Kate Middleton and Sophie, Countess of Wessex are all set to contribute, while the 94-year-old monarch will appear in a pre-recorded message from Windsor Castle.

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The Commonwealth Day TV special has been in the works since January, and the time slot was decided around three weeks ago, PEOPLE understands.

Queen Elizabeth, Meghan Markle, Prince Harry, Prince William and Kate Middleton
| Credit: Paul Grover - WPA Pool/Getty Images

The broadcast will air on Sunday, March 7 — the same day as CBS's 90-minute primetime special in which Oprah sits down for an "intimate conversation" with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. (Due to the time difference, Meghan and Harry's interview will air in the early morning hours of March 8 in the U.K.)

Oprah Winfrey; Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
| Credit: David Livingston/Getty; Chris Jackson/Getty

The special airs weeks after Meghan, 39, and Prince Harry, 36, announced that they are expecting their second child — and shortly after they confirmed they would not be returning as working members of the royal family.

CBS said Oprah's talk with Meghan would be "covering everything from stepping into life as a Royal, marriage, motherhood, philanthropic work to how she is handling life under intense public pressure," according to a statement. "Later, the two are joined by Prince Harry as they speak about their move to the United States and their future hopes and dreams for their expanding family."

Commonwealth Day 2020
| Credit: PHIL HARRIS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The March 2020 celebration of Commonwealth Day marked Meghan and Prince Harry's final appearance as working royals — and the last time they were seen with members of the royal family.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at Commonwealth Day 2020
| Credit: Chris Jackson/Getty
Commonwealth Day 2020
| Credit: Phil Harris - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Later that month, Harry and Meghan relocated to California with their son Archie, who will turn 2 in May.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's pregnancy reveal on Feb. 14
| Credit: Misan Harriman

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Less than a week after the couple announced that they are expecting their second child, Buckingham Palace confirmed that the couple will officially not be returning to their royal roles. The announcement came a few weeks shy of their 12-month review period.

Meghan and Harry will no longer keep their patronages (their royal involvement with numerous U.K. charities). Further, Prince Harry will lose his honorary military appointments, which will subsequently be redistributed "among working members of The Royal Family."

Although Prince Harry and Meghan no longer use their coveted His/Her Royal Highness titles, they will retain them — along with their Duke and Duchess of Sussex titles.

"While all are saddened by their decision, The Duke and Duchess remain much loved members of the family," the Buckingham Palace announcement said.